Do Low Carb Diets Mess With Women’s Hormones?

Low carb diets can be great for weight loss in most cases. However, in some people it can negatively affect the body. For instance, if a low carb diet is too low in carbs or followed for too long, it can cause problems with some women’s hormones. It can cause problems with the menstrual cycle, disrupt sleep quality and even cause infertility. A diet too low in carbs can affect your mood, causing anxiety and depression. It can also interfere with weight loss, to the point it may cause weight gain.

Why a low carb diet may affect menstrual cycles.

Some women on low carb diets may experience irregular periods or completely stop having periods for over three months. Those things can occur for a number of reasons. The first occurs from consuming too few calories or carbs, weight loss, too much exercise or stress. It may be caused by a drop in the hormone that starts the menstrual cycle, which also affects the levels of other hormones. It can cause other hormones like estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, LH–luteinizing hormone and FSH—follicle stimulating hormone to drop.

Like any good chain reaction, it doesn’t end there.

The hormonal changes that affect menstruation can slow the functioning of the hypothalamus, which is part of the brain that causes other hormones to release. It can affect leptin levels, making them drop. Leptin is the hormone that makes you feel full, but also is necessary for normal menstruation. The most obvious cases occur in women who are already underweight and follow a low carbohydrate diet or followed it for an extended period of time.

Adrenal glands may be affected by a low carb diet.

You need all three major glands, hypothalamus, adrenals and pituitary, to be functioning correctly and in balance to be healthy and a low carb diet may interfere with that. The three glands function in synergy, interacting with one another to maintain hormonal balance. That delicate balance controls everything from mood and immune system to metabolism, sex drive and energy levels. A diet that’s too low in carbs may lead to stress on the body, leading to inflammation, diabetes, mood disorders and other health issues.

  • While a low carb diet may be good for weight loss, it also can affect the thyroid functioning if it’s too low in carbs. That can cause weight gain, exhaustion and a foul mood.
  • A low carb diet for too long can affect fertility. All animals reproduce when conditions are best. It’s a natural function of the body. Too few carbs or calories indicate food shortage or starvation to the body.
  • The ideal low carb diet consists of approximately 15-30% of calories from carbohydrates. Moderate carb diets are better for women that are active and have trouble with recovery, have an underactive thyroid, struggle with weight loss on a low carb diet, pregnant or cease menstruating.
  • Low carb diets may be better for women who are obese, diabetic, have polycystic ovarian syndrome, have epilepsy or have certain conditions like yeast overgrowth, some types of cancer or a neurodegenerative disease.

For more information, contact us today at LIV Fitness

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