How Do Ketones and the Menopause React with Running or Exercise?
is the keto diet good for menopause

How Do Ketones and the Menopause React with Running or Exercise?

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If you’re going through the menopause, you know all the not-so-fun side effects that come along with it.

Hot flashes, weight gain, messed up blood sugar levels, even heart palpitations—not to mention not feeling like yourself, becoming easily irritated or having a decreased sex drive.

One way many women try to cut back on the frustration behind menopause is with various diet and lifestyle changes.

For example, a diet that’s high in sugar (and let’s not forget that carbs break down into sugar), causes spikes and crashes in insulin and blood sugar levels, which can contribute to a hormonal imbalance.

Recently, there’s been a lot of attention on the keto diet for menopausal women.

So, how does this type of diet work with menopause, and where does exercise come into play?

The basics

If you’re following a ketogenic diet, you know how it goes—it’s a low-carb diet lifestyle that transforms your body into a fat-burning machine.

You’ll enjoy good fats, fish and seafood, meat, eggs, vegetables, cheese, and more.

Things to avoid include starch-based foods, like bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and anything with a lot of sugar/starch.

So, why do so many menopausal women choose a keto diet?

A true ketogenic diet has 70-80% of your calories coming from healthy fats.

Fat is a key factor in hormone production, as well as maintaining and balancing proper levels.

Subsequently, this improvement will reduce or in some cases even eliminate all those awful symptoms associated with menopause.

A ketogenic diet can help cut back on hunger pains and cravings, which means you’ll lose weight faster and have an easier time keeping it off.

So, the next question is, where does exercise and a running routine fall into play?

It’s no secret that, when you’re on a ketogenic diet, you burn more fat during your cardio routine.

This is due to the limited amount of carbohydrates that your body is storing.

But you have to make sure you’re giving your body everything it needs before you get started exercising.

Don’t start right away

Not only is your body going through menopause, but if you’re making a lifestyle change, you need to give your body some time to adjust.

Stick to what you’re doing. If you’ve been running, stick with your usual routine. 

If you've been hitting the gym, stay with that.

Don’t try anything new during this time.

Why?

Because as your body is adjusting to a ketogenic diet, you may not feel your best. 

A lot of people starting off on the ketogenic diet go through the “keto flu,” which consists of an upset stomach and other flu-like symptoms.

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Drinking plenty of water and taking an electrolyte supplement will help ease you through this transition that usually only lasts a few days.  

Get The Right Fuel

Eat enough

And Here’s the thing with a keto diet.

Not only does it help balance the hormonal changes that menopause can cause, but it also boosts your energy levels. 

However, it’s essential to give your body the energy it needs for a killer workout or run!

The key is being fully fat-adaptive before you start or continue on a rigorous exercise routine with limited carbs.

This takes about 4-6 weeks if you've been following a strict ketogenic way of eating.

When this happens, your body will produce ketones to fuel your workouts when your glycogen stores quickly run out.

Being fat-adaptive means your body can efficiently switch from glucose-burning to fat-burning to support whatever activity your body is performing.

However, if you're just starting to go through menopause and switching to keto at the same time, then you might want to hold off on your workouts.

At least just for a little while.

Menopause can throw your female hormones out-of-whack.

And keto forces your body to burn fat for fuel which it hasn't done since you were baby. 

Asking your body to do all this right away and expecting to be able to perform at your best during a workout or run is too much.

Luckily, the body is extremely adaptable and before you know it, you can be back at your peak level.

And an added bonus: glucose runs out fast but fat will fuel your workouts indefinitely. 

Drop Those Pounds

A lot of people, especially women going through menopause, decide to go with keto because of the rapid weight loss.

There’s no doubt about it—it absolutely does work.

But how does that new fat loss affect your exercise and physical activity?

Obviously, being lighter will make your workouts easier and fat is a more efficient fuel source for your body to use.

Unfortunately, there is not enough research to prove that it will actually increase your performance.  

Here’s what we do know.

When you've been on keto, your body becomes efficient at burning fat but can also easily switch back to using glucose when needed.

High anaerobic activity, like sprinting, usually requires quick energy from glycogen stores in the muscles.

During aerobic activity, like doing long runs at a pace where you can still hold a conversation, the body uses fat for fuel.  

So, when you go for a run or hit the gym, you’ll find your keto diet can help increase fat oxidation while using less oxygen, thus increasing your endurance.

Another great way to help will weight loss.

Never the less, while it may not make you faster or improve your intensity, you will be able to perform longer.

HIIT Might Not Be It

In the last few years, there's been a lot of talk about the benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

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This is popular for many people because workouts are typically shorter.

But this may not be the case for women in menopause on the ketogenic diet.

During HIIT, your body relies on stored glycogen for its fuel to get through your workout.

The problem: glycogen is a byproduct of eating carbs.

So, if you aren’t eating carbs, your HIIT workout may fall short.

Therefore, if you’re going to do exercise or go running, low to moderate-intensity workouts are the way to go.

A Deadly Duo

“Studies have shown that a ketogenic diet coupled with moderate-intensity exercise can positively affect one’s body composition,” says fitness expert at DrAxe.com Chelsea Axe, D.C., C.S.C.S.

“They have shown that a ketogenic diet enhances the body’s ability to burn fat, both at rest and during low to moderate exercise intensities, so your weight loss efforts may be maximized while training in these zones.”

Need more evidence?

The Journal of Endocrinology published a study in 2011 that showed that a ketogenic diet was found to increase human growth hormone (HGH).

This helps women going through menopause because HGH plays a role in muscle and bone strength, heart health, and youthfulness—all things that will help menopause symptoms.

Great Exercise For You

When you’re ready to mix exercise into your keto diet, start with aerobic exercise.

This is cardio, which is lower-intensity but lasts for longer periods of time.

This could be running (at a conversational pace), swimming, or biking.

This is ideal for the keto dieter because it’s a steady-state of cardio and focuses on fat burning.

Anaerobic exercise isn’t a great choice, and HIIT definitely falls under this category.

Carbs are the fuel behind this exercise so just fat and protein won’t be enough to give you the energy you need.

Flexibility and stability exercises are good choices as well.

Flexibility exercises stretch out your muscles, support your joints and help your range of motion.

Yoga and other stretches would fall under this category.

Stability exercises are core training and other balance exercises, which will help with your muscle strength, too.

Resistance training is great for any age but especially in older women to preserve and maintain bone health.

At the end of the day, what matters most is how you feel.


 Listen to your body and figure out what works for you. 


Between keto, menopause, and exercise, you may need some time to work out the kinks. 

So be patient and remember, as with everything, consistency is key!