Low carb diet may be problematic for women, scientists claim

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Over and over again, we’ve heard the keto diet touted as the greatest solution to shedding weight, improving blood sugar levels, helping ward off chronic diseases, and so on.

However, a new study has scientists concerned about how the controversial could affect women differently to men – and it’s not good news.

The findings, presented at the Endocrine Society’s recent ENDO 2019 meeting in New Orleans, Los Angeles, suggest women could be less likely to lose weight on the keto diet, and could even cause disruptions in their blood sugar control.

To conduct the study, the researchers fed a group of female and male mice with either a ketogenic diet or a regular control diet.

The keto meal consisted of 75 per cent fat, three per cent carbs and eight per cent protein by mass, while the control diet consisted of seven per cent fat, 47 per cent carbs and 19 per cent protein by mass.

After a period of 15 weeks, the researchers found that the female mice on the keto diet showed no changes in weight, but had impaired blood sugar control. On the other hand, the male mice on the keto diet showed a decrease in body weight and stabilised blood sugar control.

“These results may help explain discrepancies in this diet’s success rates across the sexes,” Jesse Cochran, study lead researcher and a research assistant at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, said in their presentation.

The researchers then tried to remove ovaries of some female mice to see if estrogen plays a role in how the body responds to the keto diet. The results showed that the mice without ovaries and on a keto diet had lower body weight and body fat.

“This finding suggests that postmenopausal women could potentially experience better weight loss outcomes with the ketogenic diet compared to younger women,” Cochran said.

Although conducted in an animal study, the team concluded that people should always seek advice from a medical professional before trying the keto diet to avoid the same problems the mice experienced.