Possibly Worth Studying: Women and Low-Carbing
Trigger Warning for Eating Disorders/Body Image/Diet Talk
In two weeks, I will report my low-carb findings. Right now, I can’t stop being surprised by how little of the information on low-carbing available online is relevant to most women.
After two decades of trying to lose weight, I thought I knew what to expect with low-carbing. What I’d never considered was the fact that while most weight loss plans are dominated by and at least somewhat geared towards women, low-carbing is one of the few where men seem to make up a majority, at least online. Exact numbers vary according to personal experience, and I have no hard data, but in my research on the matter (i.e. hours spent searching and bookmarking specific keto concerns), I’ve discovered that many of the answers I’d found are only relevant to most men, i.e. not so for most women.
Medical studies often ignore how drugs can affect women differently; similar issues can be found with exercise studies. The phenomena below have yet to be studied, but many ladies on keto report having experienced them (I apologize for the problematic name of that sub-Reddit). Proper scientific studies on diet and exercise are difficult to conduct and therefore rare, and even rarer are ones that take such differences into account.
Again, to clarify: This list does not represent peer-reviewed scientific studies because such research has yet to be conducted. I do think that any item would make an excellent hypothesis to be tested.
It would be interesting to find out whether or not the following phenomena occur at all, and, if so, are due to women low-carbing.
5. Does keto trigger early periods?
Not only does the infamous “Atkins flu” cause PMS-like symptoms (irritability, incessant hunger, nausea, weakness, fatigue, and so on), but induction into low-carbing seems to cause shorter menstrual cycles in some women. Annoyingly, water retention during menstruation, a proven phenomenon, can create the illusion that a woman has gained rather than lost weight, which can be highly disappointing.
4. How do bodily fluids (any and all of them) change for women on keto, if at all?
Keto forums are rife with posts about how urine and saliva change in odor, appearance, and so on. While shifts in diet are known to change vaginal secretions, low-carbing’s effects in particular seem quite dramatic.
3. How much do weight fluctuations factor into women’s results from low-carbing?
Period-related water retention aside, many women’s bodies are quite sensitive to things like sodium, so a woman’s weight can vary throughout the day, leading to great dismay at the scale. This is true regardless of keto, but is especially relevant to keto because so many men post their dramatic results online, results that women can’t seem to replicate.
2. Is weight loss truly slower for women than for men? If so, by how much and due to what?
“I lost a zillion pounds in just 3 days!” declare the dudebros on keto forums. Unfortunately, similar results are generally unheard of in women regardless of diet/lifestyle choices. For a variety of reasons, most women seem to lose weight at a slower pace than most men do.
1. Can you really eat all the calories you want to and still lose weight by counting carbs?
Conventional wisdom calls for the calories-in calories-out method. There is controversy over this in keto-land (no one seems to be able to agree whether or not calories as well as carbs count) but for many women, weight loss seems to be slow or impossible without restricting calories as well as carbs.
Bottom line? Your mileage may vary, and probably will, if you’re a woman comparing your weight loss to that of men. Also, we need more studies on this sort of thing.
EDIT: Changed to ensure that the speculative nature of the piece was clear.