If you’ve been following my work, you know that I am passionate about the keto diet and have used it in my own healing journey. Adopting a clean, high fiber diet along with my intermittent fasting routine, has allowed me to further heal from inflammatory eczema that I’ve dealt with since childhood. It hasn’t been without obstacles and plenty of experimentation, however, and I’ve learned a lot along my journey that I love sharing with you here.
Did you know that most of the research on the ketogenic diet has been done on men? This is true for much of the medical research out there. Often this research is conducted on male subjects and extrapolated to women, without considering the significant differences between males and females. Women have a different hormonal landscape, more body fat, go through pregnancies, nurse babies, go through menopause and are more susceptible to certain cancers, heart disease, and autoimmune conditions.
When it comes to a keto diet, I wholeheartedly believe that women, along with men, can reap the extensive benefits, but that women likely need their own, unique approach and keto meal plan. Further, I would argue that we need more research on women to fully understand this complex relationship between diet and health as it relates to the female body.
As part of the research for my upcoming book, High Fiber Keto, I worked with a research team at Jacksonville University and conducted a pilot study using my keto meal plan in women. The women implemented a high-quality, whole food keto diet for three weeks and the results were nothing short of extraordinary as far as metabolic and overall health.
The majority of women in the study (over 90%!) lost weight and experienced other benefits as well, including:
- Improved body composition (less body fat)
- Reduced blood sugar
- Reduced blood pressure
- Improved sleep
- Improved mood
- Reduced cravings
- Increased satisfaction with skin health
What Can Women Eat on the Keto Diet?
Sounds pretty great, right? But you might be asking “what can I eat on the keto diet?” Let’s get into the details.
It is often helpful to track your macronutrients at first using an online tool such as Cronometer, Myfitnesspal or Carb Manager to get the hang of what your keto plate looks like. Shoot for around 75% of daily calories from fat, 15-20% from protein, and only 5-10% from carbohydrates. You’ll likely need to stay under 50 grams of total carbs per day to get into ketosis, but once there you may be able to increase your total carb intake.
If you are a more visual and intuitive eater, use this visual to build your keto plate: Try to fill 50-75% of your plate with high-fiber, non-starchy veggies, include four to five ounces of protein and around three servings of good fat.
Here are the foods to focus on:
- Good Fats: Avocados, avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil, grass-fed butter and ghee, full fat dairy products, fatty fish and fattier cuts of high-quality meat.
- Meat: grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken with skin and bones, bison, elk, pasture-raised pork, turkey. Look for the highest quality that you can find and afford. Local ranchers are a great resource.
- Dairy: If you tolerate dairy, look for full-fat (unsweetened) dairy products from pasture-raised cows. Goat and sheep versions are great too.
- Seafood: wild salmon, Alaskan cod, sardines, anchovies, mackerel are good choices. In general, look for small fish from cold waters because they will be lower in mercury. Canned seafood is a great, convenient option and cod liver oil is one of my go-to daily supplements.
- Non-Starchy Veggies that are hydrating and high in fiber: artichoke, arugula, asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, collard greens, cucumber, garlic, green beans, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, leeks, peppers, seaweed, spinach, zucchini. Learn more in my recent post, Importance of High Fiber Keto Diet Foods.
- Nuts and seeds: High in fiber and healthy fat, these can be a great addition and keto-friendly. Try chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, macadamia nuts, pili nuts, pecans, and brazil nuts.
- Fermented Foods: Add these as condiments to keep your digestion and microbiome happy. Try sauerkraut, kefir, unsweetened coconut yogurt, miso, and kimchi.
- Keto Sweets: Going keto doesn’t mean saying goodbye to sweet flavors forever. Berries can be a great low-carb fruit option, and they contain many antioxidants. Strawberries, blackberries, wild blueberries and raspberries are great choices. Organic is best. For baking up keto treats try pure monk fruit as a sweetener. Pro tip: a little goes a long way!
By focusing on these categories, you’ll likely naturally displace some of the higher carb, more processed foods in your diet and avoid the trap of dirty keto. It is worth paying special attention to avoid processed vegetable oils (corn, soy, canola, safflower), hydrogenated oils and products made with refined flour and added sugar.