Following the keto diet may improve fertility, preliminary findings show
05/21/2019 // Zoey Sky // Views

Most people go on diets to lose weight, improve their health, or both. But can it improve a woman's ability to get pregnant? According to health experts, the ketogenic diet can help boost the fertility of couples who are trying to conceive.

The keto diet can help you lose a substantial amount of weight quickly. This is important for women since being overweight or obese may reduce your chances of getting pregnant or maintaining a healthy pregnancy.

Data suggests excess body fat is linked to a higher risk of miscarriage, and overweight women who want to conceive will be glad to know that the keto diet can help them lose weight and improve their fertility at the same time.

The basics of the keto diet

A keto diet "is high in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbohydrates." This puts the body into ketosis, a natural metabolic state.

This diet dramatically reduces your intake of carbohydrates, the body's primary source of energy. As a result, your body burns fat instead of carbs for energy.

Preliminary research shows that this shift can temporarily boost weight loss.

Kristin Kirkpatrick, a registered dietitian and wellness nutrition services consultant at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute in Ohio, said that ketosis could also help reduce systemic inflammation, which is crucial since inflammation may reduce "overall fertility." If you follow a keto diet properly, you can also reduce levels of insulin and "better regulate levels of other reproductive hormones, including follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), and testosterone.


How your diet affects your body weight, hormones, and ovulation

Dr. Rashmi Kudesia, a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist at Houston IVF, a Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM) Network Clinic in Texas, explained that the keto diet could help women who don't ovulate (release an egg) regularly, like individuals with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

PCOS, a metabolic and hormonal disorder, is one of the leading causes of infertility in women. The condition can also cause problems during pregnancy for you and your baby.

Women with PCOS have higher rates of:

  • Cesarean section (C-section)
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Miscarriage
  • Preeclampsia

If women with PCOS lose at least five to 10 percent of their body weight, they may resume ovulating. According to some studies, the keto diet can help women with PCOS lose weight and rebalance their hormones.

Additionally, the keto diet could help women who had previous infertility problems become pregnant on their own.

In a small study published in the journal AACE Clinical Case Reports, researchers monitored four overweight women with PCOS who were trying to conceive. The women followed a keto diet, and their progress was monitored monthly.

After six months, all four women lost at least 19 to 36 pounds. The women all had irregular periods before they started the diet, but they resumed regular menstruation within six months. Two of the women even "conceived spontaneously without requiring ovulation induction." (Related: Your go-to guide to the best low-carb fruits to eat while on the keto diet.)

The keto diet can also benefit men

Being overweight and poor eating habits can also affect men’s fertility. The standard American diet is full of refined carbohydrates and sugar, which have both been linked with poor sperm health. A poor diet also negatively affects "sperm motility, morphology [shape], and shape count."

A fertile woman can still have trouble conceiving if her partner doesn’t have enough good-quality sperm. The keto diet, which is full of healthy fats from nuts, seeds, and fish full of omega-3 fatty acids, can also boost sperm health.

Reminders before starting the keto diet

Before you follow the keto diet, health experts suggest that women should use the diet to improve their lifestyle habits and lose weight before they try to conceive. Dr. Kudesia warned that your body shouldn't be in a state of ketosis around conception, or any part of pregnancy.

Instead of just restricting calories, you should consume enough nutrient-dense whole foods for a healthy conception and pregnancy. In a study published in the journal Nutrients, researchers determined that low-carbohydrate diets with less than 45 percent of the day’s total calories come from carbs, can help improve the reproductive hormone levels and regular ovulation in women who are overweight or obese. On the other hand, a standard keto plan usually allows a maximum of 20 percent of your calorie consumption to come from carbs.

While there are benefits to following the keto diet, make it your goal to maintain a healthy weight and eat more nutritious foods to improve your chances of getting pregnant naturally.

Sources include:

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