Does the Keto Diet Impact Fertility?

What you need to know before you start

You’ve probably heard of the ketogenic diet – it’s a hot topic these days and for good reason! Keto has been said to do everything from cure epilepsy and PCOS to promote weight loss and help women conceive after years of infertility. There are even some Reproductive Endocrinologists, including Dr. Kiltz from CNY, who suggest their patients use keto to improve the rate of success for IVF.  So, how does it work and what should you know about it?

The aim of the keto diet is to put and keep your body in a metabolic state called ketosis. Our bodies normally burn carbohydrates for energy. When you restrict the number of carbs, the body will break down stored fat, creating molecules called ketones to use as fuel. You are literally turning your body from a sugar burner to a fat burner.  For many people, one of the huge benefits of being in a ketogenic state is having a stable blood sugar level. This means there aren’t any blood sugar crashes since it’s burning fat and this gets rid of those, “hangry – OMG I HAVE TO EAT RIGHT NOW” feelings.  It’s a more stable and consistent form of energy.  The ketones themselves are healing, especially in relation to calming inflammation in the body and hormone balance.

The “sensationalized” version of keto is to, “eat butter and bacon and get pregnant!” But there are few things to keep in mind when you want to get all the health and healing benefits of a ketogenic diet:

  • Quality matters – There’s a big difference in the nutritional profile of a small piece of grass fed and grass finished organic piece of beef and a piece of factory-raised beef pumped full of hormones. The same principles for seeking out the best quality food (and organic when possible) holds true for when you are doing keto.
    • Beef labeled “grass finished” have only been fed grass
    • Beef labeled “grass-fed” could have also been fed grains at some time in their lives
  • There are different versions of keto – Your version of keto may be different than your friend, spouse or what you read online. You may be able to eat more (or less) carbs to stay in ketosis. This is especially true for how keto is for women vs men. Women have a delicate balance of hormones and some women may need to do a “carb up” occasionally to feel good and that’s ok.
  • Metabolic Flexibility – Another option, instead of keeping yourself in a constant state of ketosis, is the idea of “metabolic flexibility.” This is when your body has been “adapted to fat” which means it can switch back from ketosis to using glucose as fuel. This is similar to the idea of “cyclical keto”. However, one needs to be full fat adapted first, before trying cyclical keto, otherwise, it won’t work, and you will not feel the benefits (and possibly feel worse).
  • Fat doesn’t make you fat – To be successful with keto you need to rewire your brain from the belief that, “fat is bad” and that, “fat makes you fat.” Back in the low-fat craze days of the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, there was a lot of misinformation about how fat impacts our health. There’s a lot of information out there that debunks the false science that leads us into the low-fat/no-fat/more sugar trend and all the health issues that ended up being created. You can check out Nutrition Coalition for more information.

The keto diet may be beneficial to you, but before you start any diet you should consult with your physician or reproductive endocrinologist. It’s a commitment to do a diet overhaul. If keto isn’t the right diet for you, that’s also ok. You can also do the basics such as getting enough sleep, cutting down on processed foods and limiting your exposure to pesticides and toxic chemicals.

If you have additional questions, please contact your dedicated Patient Care Advocate.