Everybody’s buzzing about how quickly the keto diet works — and yet many of us try the famous plan only to be disappointed. Now, University of Iowa researchers have uncovered a surprise reason: estrogen.
Turns out, even postmenopausal women typically have enough of the hormone in their system to block keto’s otherwise speedy fat burn. The solution? “Getting more dietary fiber allows your body to naturally optimize estrogen levels and triggers a host of other benefits,” reveals California-based women’s health expert Felice Gersh, M.D., a fan of the new high fiber keto plan by health pioneer Naomi Whittel.
The impact of fiber is so powerful, experts have been stunned to find that keto dieters can double their intake of fiber-rich carbs and still get far more impressive results than those on traditional low-fiber keto plans. In fact, women once struggling to lose a single ounce report melting a pound or more a day!
For those who don’t know, going keto means you swap most of the carbs you’d normally eat (like sugar and bread) for dietary fat (like olive oil, cheese, even bacon). Why? Because your system adapts and starts converting fat — from both food and your fat cells — into compounds called ketones that become your main fuel. Basically, you draw on your trouble spots to make energy.
As a bonus, ketones are also proven to soothe inflammation that drives many of our worst health issues, helping us heal and feel better. It’s the reason Whittel was already on a keto diet when she came across research on the amazing benefits of fiber, including studies that show the sinewy plant matter helps improve everything from digestion and blood sugar to hormone balance, depression, heart health and more.
“I knew I was among the 90 percent of women who don’t get enough fiber, so I started building to 25 grams a day to see if it made a difference,” Whittel recalls. To hit that goal, she pushed her carb intake to 30, 40, 50 grams — double what most keto dieters get. Did she gain? Nope! “I actually lost stubborn pounds I thought were never coming off. And all aspects of my health improved. It was like replacing a rusty old engine with a high-powered new one!”
Inspired, she recruited Jacksonville University scientists to see if the approach would help others too. “We did a clinical study and found that not only did women end up losing a lot of weight, they saw dramatic improvements in blood sugar, blood pressure, anxiety and sleep.” Fiber for the win!
Fiber and Fat Burn
Of the many ways fiber takes keto to the next level, Whittel insists the most crucial is that it feeds good bacteria in our GI tracts. Scientists at Harvard and elsewhere say there’s now compelling evidence these trillions of bacteria play a bigger role in our health than our own genes.
Prime example: Studies show good bacteria actually neutralize excess estrogen, a hormone programmed to lock a “protective” layer of fat on our bodies. Dr. Gersh explains that as the estrogen lock is released, keto can work its full slimming magic!What’s more, breakthrough studies show that fiber-powered good bacteria produce floods of butyrate, a type of fatty acid that switches off fat storage, fires up metabolism and improves blood sugar and insulin.
And according to Canadian scientists, when we have more butyrate in our system, we produce up to five times more ketones. That’s great news for our waistline since the more ketones we make, the more stored fat we incinerate. Says Dr. Gersh: “Women see weight loss very quickly— even within just the first week!”
Carbs You Can Eat on Keto
When using a high-fiber keto approach, allow yourself 50 grams of carbs and aim for 20 to 25 grams of fiber a day. (The free app at CarbManager.com makes tracking easy.) Leafy greens, avocado, and nuts are all good fiber-rich keto choices, as are the carb-lovers’ options at right. Round out each meal with a serving of protein and 2 to 3 servings of fat. As always, get a doctor’s okay to try any new plan.
Mix 2 cups nut flour, 6 Tbs. butter, 1⁄3 cup Swerve, 2 tsp. vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Chill. Spoon 30 mounds on cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit until golden, about 12 to14 minutes. Let cool before serving.
Grill keto-friendly fillings like cheese, meat, and veggies between two buttered slices of low-carb bread.
Brush a low-carb tortilla with oil, cut in triangles, salt to taste and bake at 350°F until crisp, about 12 minutes.
Prepare shirataki noodles per package directions, then stir-fry in oil with meat, veggies, and low-carb teriyaki sauce.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.