The high-fat, low-carb craze known as keto has been dominating Google’s most-searched diet words and Amazon’s bestseller list for a few years now. And for good reason: The science backs keto, but the results really speak for themselves. Some women report dropping 11 pounds in seven days, 49 pounds in eight weeks, even 200+ pounds in all! But is keto for good for women over 50?
First, let’s get to what makes the keto diet so powerful: It transforms the body metabolically. “At the heart of the keto diet, you limit your intake of carbohydrates to the point where you trigger ketosis — a state where your body burns fat instead of sugar for fuel,” notes cardiologist Bret Scher, M.D., medical director of DietDoctor.com. Indeed, research shows that keto followers increase their fat burn by up to 900 percent. The result: Fat cells shrink as they empty out.
What is the best diet for women over 50?
The diet also reverses a slowing metabolism, making it up to 10 times faster, say researchers at Bethel University in Minnesota. Metabolism is determined by muscle tissue. And studies at the University of Southern California show that women lose about one percent of their muscle tissue each year after the age of 30, and the process accelerates as we get older — in fact, by age 60, most women have lost 20 percent of their total muscle mass. So as we lose lean muscle mass, metabolism naturally slows. But the protein and healthy fats included in the keto diet actually combat this natural decline, helping to preserve metabolism-revving muscle, even as excess fat melts away. As a result, you won’t experience slimming slowdowns as the weight comes off.
An added bonus of keto for women over 50: Keto dieters never feel deprived. “The healthy fats in the keto diet help you feel fuller longer,” Dr. Scher promises, adding that fats increase the production of satiety hormones. And you can enjoy such a wide array of decadent foods that you’ll never feel like you’re missing out. “A keto diet is one of the few approaches people, especially women over 50, can comfortably stick with over the long-term,” says certified obesity medicine specialist Adam Nally, D.O., author of The Keto Cure ($Buy on Amazon, $23.38), who has helped patients drop up to 220 pounds.
As effective as the plan is, though, many women over 50 struggle on the keto. “A lot of weight-loss strategies are too complex to maintain long enough to create new habits,” explains Dr. Nally. That’s certainly true of the traditional keto diet, which requires keeping track of macronutrients by limiting meals to 5 percent carbohydrates, 25 percent protein, and 70 percent fat. Indeed, keto dieters report that all the math is daunting, and figuring out what to eat to hit optimal fat levels can be difficult. Worse, this confusion can lead to slip-ups that stall results and derail motivation.
Fortunately, keto dieters have hit upon a strategy that makes it easy to get results. The key is making the diet simple and automated. “You can skip the keto diet math,” promises Denver-based diet expert Jeffry Gerber, M.D., author of Eat Rich, Live Long (Buy on Amazon, $16.99). Instead, check out these super-easy keto meal plans or create your own meals following Dr. Gerber’s no-stress guidelines: “Start with 2 cups of raw or 1 cup of cooked leafy greens or cruciferous vegetables. Then add 2 to 3 servings of fat from avocado, butter, cheese, nuts, or oils,” he says. “Top it off with a palm-sized serving of protein.”
But, is keto diet safe for over 50? Speedy slimming is just the start of the benefits. Turns out, the ketogenic diet is also a real heart-saver, reducing artery-harming triglycerides by 300 percent and balancing cholesterol levels. “Research shows that the keto diet improves or reverses type 2 diabetes as well,” adds Dr. Scher. More good news: A keto diet has a beneficial impact on the brain, resulting in a 62 percent improved memory. Plus, increasing your intake of healthy fats has been proven to rein in arthritis pain, stimulate hair growth and tighten skin — which helps women lose big without sagging skin.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.