Do Low-Carb Diets Alter Female Hormones?

Studies show that low carbohydrate diet helps in weight loss and improve metabolic health, being beneficial for some people, but not so much for others. And it is that to make a diet low in carbohydrates for a long time could alter the hormones of our body, especially if you are a woman.

Keep in mind that hormones are released into the blood by glands, very abundant in our body. They have a very important function that consists in monitoring all the situations that happen inside our body. For example, bad mood and weight are regulated by hormones.

Learn how low-carbohydrate diets affect female hormones and what problems these can cause for your health.

Can a low-carbohydrate diet be harmful to women?

Women’s hormones are regulated by three major glands: hypothalamus (located in the brain), pituitary (located in the brain) and adrenal glands (located in the upper part of the kidneys). These three are responsible for keeping the hormones in balance, causing a hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, known as HPA.

The hormonal glands are very sensitive to caloric intake, stress and physical exercise , which is why a low carbohydrate diet could affect us noticeably, being reflected in our attitudes. On the other hand, it is not a secret that long-term stress is harmful to our body , because the overproduction of cortisol and norepinephrine creates an imbalance in our body and increases the pressure on the hypothalamus and the adrenal glands.

In turn, this pressure leads to a dysfunction of the HPA axis, referring to adrenal fatigue. One of the most common symptoms is presenting fatigue, weakening of the immune system and an increased risk of health problems.

In this sense, a study also found that, regardless of weight loss, a low-carbohydrate diet increases cortisol levels compared to a moderate fat, and can deduce in this way that these types of diets could alter our stress levels of women, among other variables.

What problems can low-carb diets cause?

In addition to the alteration of stress levels, eating few carbohydrates can affect our health, because if you do not consume enough you will experience irregular menstrual cycles or amenorrhea (menstrual cycle absent for 3 months or more).

On the other hand, low levels of leptin (hormone produced by fat cells), is another possible cause of amenorrhea and irregular menstruation, since several studies suggest that women need a certain level of leptin to maintain a normal menstrual function.

Thus, if your calorie or carbohydrate intake is very low, you will completely suppress leptin levels causing an irregularity in your menstruation. Particularly, women with low weight almost always suffer from low levels of this hormone. In turn, other studies report that amenorrhea tends to appear as a side effect in women who follow a low carbohydrate diet for a long period of time.

How many carbohydrates should a woman eat?

Not all of us have the same organism and the same diet or exercise routine does not work for everyone, so the optimal amount of carbohydrates varies for each individual . Many nutritionists recommend that you consume between 15-30% of total calories in the form of carbohydrates, this is equivalent to most women at about 75-150 grams daily. However, some may also find a higher or lower carbohydrate intake as beneficial.

On the other hand, certain women may consume a somewhat larger amount of carbohydrates (around 100-150 grams per day). This includes women who meet the following characteristics:

  • They have followed a very low carbohydrate diet for a long time.
  • They want to recover after a hard workout.
  • They want to lose weight or, on the contrary, start to gain weight.
  • They have stopped menstruating.
  • They are breastfeeding or pregnant.

Only for these types of women is a moderate diet, because it will maintain a good level of state of mind and will provide them with a lot of energy to face their daily activities, as well as a normal menstrual function and a better sleep. Another type of women, like athletes, can eat more than 150 grams of carbohydrates.


A diet must always be balanced, in addition to adapting to your needs. That is why it is not advisable to search the Internet to discover some diets, instead it is much better to make an appointment with a specialist and he will advise you, because depending on your situation or how you feel you can make the diet you need and thus allow you to maintain a good diet Health.

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