Ladies, Hormones & Low Carb

There is a lot of talk at the minute about Carb Backloading and Carb Nite, from myself and a lot of other trainers as well as people on fitness forums.
I see a lot of talk about lack of carbs and ladies in particular struggling with the Ultra low carb portion (ULC) our very own Mrs BusyBee would rip your throat out if you come between her and her carbs.
It turns out there could be a psychochemical reason for this. Women appear to have lower levels of serotonin, this is particularly true during their period when production of in the brain is suppressed. I like to think of serotonin as the ‘happy hormone’ but it not only controls mood but also plays a roll in sleep, anxiety and hunger.
Tryptophan is an essential amino-acid which means the body can’t produce it and it must be ingested, it is a precursor to serotonin so no tryptophan, no serotonin.

Now for the bad news, ingestion of carbohydrate leads to the preferential shuttling of tryptophan into the brain. So by reducing or virtually removing Carbs you could be contributing to reduced mood quality, increased appetite, lack of sleep and increased anxiety, as well as a whole host of other things.

This isn’t to say that women can’t do these low carb diets or that this is going to be the case for all women, but more that they need to be mindful of these factors so that they don’t get sent to prison for murder whilst fighting to get to that last potato. It could be as simple as timing your ULC portions of your diet so that they don’t clash with your period.
I think this quote, although stereotypical and maybe a little sexist really puts the difference between men and women into context.
“The female hormones seem to cause a strong craving for carbs, as the female body isn’t fertile without a layer of fat. This makes this diet very hard for women to follow. Traditionally the women are the gatherers of fruits and (starchy) roots, while the men are the hunters. This is shown today in the different ways men and women go about buying things. The gals “shop” which is a trip through the entire store or mall in search of things to buy. They may not actually buy (gather) anything. The guys on the other hand know what they are after, and then seek it out (hunts it down) and buys it, usually then taking it home right away.”(Stanley)

So the long and short of it is, low carb diets are not right for everyone, men and women alike. If you want to then give it a go, try to take your monthly cycle into consideration if you can. However if it’s not for you then that doesn’t mean you should beat yourself up about it. Most importantly it doesn’t mean you’ve failed just that this particular diet plan may not be for you. This isn’t just true for low carb diets but all diets.
It’s all about finding what works for YOU

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Posted in Nutrition

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