The Keto diet isn’t age-specific. It’s a way of eating that has fueled humans of all ages since prehistoric times.
But that doesn’t mean that Keto can't demonstrate its potential benefits to specific age groups. It can. And in this article, you’ll learn about Keto for women over 50.
Most women over 50 are completing, or have completed, a series of hormonal shifts marked by the cessation of the menstrual cycle. This is called menopause. Combine menopause with the natural aging process, and you have a slew of often frustrating changes hitting the fan.
Let’s review that topic first. Then we’ll talk about how Keto may help.
Health Issues for Women Over 50
Most women enter perimenopause (the period before menopause) in their late 40s to early 50s.[*] During this time, women may experience symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, low libido, mood swings, irregular periods, insomnia, and weight gain.[*]
As a woman transitions to menopause, her pattern of weight distribution often changes. Instead of storing fat predominantly in her thighs and buttocks, she may start storing fat around her abdomen. This shift is driven, researchers believe, by falling levels of the female sex hormone: estrogen.[*]
But the changes that occur aren’t just related to body composition. Due to estrogen deficiency, menopausal and postmenopausal women also have increased risks of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.[*]
Along with menopause, women over 50 must also contend with the natural aging process. As humans pushing into our later decades, we may experience:
- Accelerated muscle loss (sarcopenia)[*]
- More chronic inflammation[*]
- Higher rates of every chronic disease: heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, etc.
- Declines in athletic performance[*]
- More trouble regulating blood sugar[*]
- Reductions in deep, restorative sleep[*]
- A broader perspective on life and love
- The benefits of an AARP membership
Let’s be clear. A Ketogenic diet isn’t going to prevent menopause or aging. But there are a few mechanisms by which it may help.
How A Keto Diet May Help
What’s going on? Probably a couple of things.
Keto also influences fat metabolism. When blood sugar and insulin levels stay low on a low-carb diet, more fat gets burned.[*] This may help offset menopause-related fat storage.
Here are some other potential health benefits of the Keto diet for women over 50:
- Being in ketosis may reduce chronic inflammation by preventing high blood sugar and suppressing inflammatory signaling molecules.[*]
- The Keto diet is a promising therapy for Alzheimer’s disease and certain cancers.[*][*]
- Keto has been shown to improve heart disease risk factors in obese and diabetic populations.[*]
- Keto-adapting (running on body fat) can stabilize energy levels.
For more on Keto health benefits beyond weight loss, check out this blog.
Keto for Women Over 50: 7 Tips to Get Started
Let’s cover some of these tips in more detail, with a special focus on Keto.
#1: Get enough protein
The older you get, the harder it is to maintain muscle. This progressive muscle loss—called sarcopenia—is a major cause of age-related disability.[*]
Getting adequate protein can help prevent sarcopenia. Why? Because the amino acids in protein (especially leucine) provide the building blocks for muscle synthesis.
For most people, 100 grams of protein per day is a good target. If you want to get more nuanced, read this blog about protein on Keto and download the Carb Manager app to dial in your macros.
And no, protein won’t derail your Keto diet. But avoiding it will derail your health.
#2: Strength train
By itself, protein isn’t sufficient to maintain lean mass. You also need resistance exercise.
The formula looks something like this: A high-protein Keto diet + strength training = muscle maintenance.[*]
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Doing push-ups (or knee push-ups), pull-ups (or assisted pull-ups), planks, and air squats 2-3 times per week is a simple but effective routine.
But assuming you use proper form, feel free to lift some weights. Please read our guide to exercise on Keto for more on this topic.
#3: Consider intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting (IF) is the practice of taking regular breaks from food.
It’s nothing new. Humans evolved over millennia to oscillate between fasting and feeding. It works well with our biology.
But try not to be overly aggressive with your fasting regimen. Compared to men, women appear to have more negative effects from longer fasts. (These concerns apply mostly to women of reproductive age). Learn more by reading this guide to IF for women.
#4: Take electrolytes
People talk a lot about staying hydrated on Keto, but they often forget about electrolytes.
Electrolytes like sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and chloride keep your nervous system functioning, your energy levels up, and your bodily fluids balanced. They’re important.
Sodium is the big one for Keto folks to focus on. Not only do whole food Keto diets cause increased sodium loss through urine[*], but they also contain very little sodium to begin with. Keep the salt shaker handy.
#5: Eat Keto superfoods
Here’s a partial list of nutrient-dense Keto foods to support healthy aging:
- Eggs. High in protein for muscle maintenance and choline for liver and brain health.
- Dark leafy greens. High in magnesium and potassium for heart health.
- Meat and fish. Good sources of protein, B vitamins, and iron.
- Beef liver. Nature’s multivitamin—especially high in vitamin A for eye health, copper for immunity, vitamin B12 for energy, and choline for liver health.
The bottom line? Eat nutritious low-carb foods, and your body will age more gracefully.
#6 and #7: Manage stress and sleep well
These tips are deeply intertwined. If you’re stressed, you won’t sleep well. And if you aren’t sleeping well, you’ll be stressed.
Like diet, sleep and stress management are habitual behaviors. Handle your habits and the rest will handle itself.
The Best Diet for Women Over 50
We don’t know if Keto is the best diet for women over 50.
However, based on the available evidence, Keto is worth considering if you're struggling with weight gain, high blood sugar, chronic inflammation, or other age-related problems.
Do a month-long experiment. See how low-carb affects your body, mind the above tips, and adjust if needed. This article will be here if you forget anything.