Hormones and the Keto Diet: How Keto Improves PMS Symptoms

My Experience with Keto and PMS

The hormone fluctuation that comes with menstrual cycles is commonly accepted as a fact of life. Many women just assume that they’ll be miserable for a few days out of the month. For me, I didn’t experience much pain or mood swings with my cycle until I hit my 40’s. In my 40’s my seizures returned but only right before my period. It wasn’t consistent every month, so it took a long time to connect the two. I aslo started experiencing horrific belching. Like, house shaking burps one right after another. It was terrible. My other PMS symptoms were mild diarrhea and slight abdominal discomfort. 

After starting the Paleo Ketogenic diet with the International Center for Medical and Nutritional Intervention a month ago, I was eager to see if my seizures would return. So far, so good!

My PMS symptoms have reduced by about 50%! I still experience some burps, but they are relatively unnoticeable to my friends and family. They are occurring occasionally instead of constantly for an hour. Much improved! 

What Causes PMS

The biggest cause of pre-menstrual symptoms come from hormonal imbalances either estrogen dominance or low progesterone. The research suggests that lifestyle factors will determine the impact of PMS symptoms. These include stress, diet, and exercise. 

Progesterone and estrogen work together for overall hormone balance. Estrogen dominance can cause mood swings, painful periods, breast tenderness, irritability, headaches, memory loss and heavy periods. Low progesterone contributes to cramps, bloating, and sleep disruption.  

How Keto Can Help

Blood Glucose Stabilization

The ketogenic diet stabilizes bloog sugar levels stable. When blood glucose spikes too high, your pancreas releases insulin to remove the excess sugar. When your body releases insulin, it impacts the body’s other hormones. 

As insulin rises, it leads to reduced levels of a protein called sex hormone binding protein (SHBP). This protein binds to the levels of estrogen and testosterone in your body. SHBP keeps the levels of hormone in check. But when your insulin spikes too high, SHBP goes down and increases estrogen dominance. 

Magnesium Levels

The keto diet drastically reduces the amount of sugar that you eat. One issue that sugar consumption creates is a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium plays a crucial role in your health. Low levels of magenesium are assocated with PMS. 

Studies have discovered a correlation between low magnesium and insulin resistance. When insulin resistance increases, there is a loss of magnesium through urine. 

Magnesium is essential in phase II liver detoxification. This is a critical mechanism which removes excess estrogen from your body. When you have low levels of magnesium, you are more prone to estrogen dominance.

Reduce Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is tough on the hormones. Researchers have discovered that several PMS symptoms were correlated with C-Reactive Protein levels. This is a marker for inflammation in your liver. 

The PMS symptoms associated with inflammation are cramps, back pain, mood swings, increased appetite and mood swings. 

Inflammation is also associated with insulin resistance. This will have an effect on your hormones and could potentially lead to estrogen dominance in some people. 

Hyperglycemia, or too much blood glucose, causes your immune system to release a number of inflammatory chemicals. These inflammatory compounds can put you at risk for organ damage. 

Inflammation can either increase estrogen or lower it. Low estrogen has been associated with poor cognitive functions and memory. 

An essential enzyme, aromatase, is involved in estrogen production. It helps with the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. When this enzyme works properly, it helps to maintain a steady state of estrogen. However, too much inflammation can over-activate aromatase and lead to excess estrogen production and estrogen dominance. 

Brain Functioning

One common PMS symptom is an inability to concentrate due to mood swings or anxiety. Estrogen dominance can result in brain fog and poor memory. 

When you switch your body’s fuel from glucose to ketones, your brain begins to use ketones for fuel. They are anti-inflammatory. The brain can use them more effectively than glucose.

When people are on a ketogenic diet, they often report better memory, concentration and learning. The ketogenic diet increases the protein brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is thought to be the cause of improved brain functioning on the ketogenic diet. Improved bioavailability of ketones to the brain is thought to help brain functioning as well. 


You don’t have to live with PMS! These symptoms are occurring because your body is out of balance due to the foods that spike your insulin. 

If you want to reduce or eliminate your PMS, look to your hormones. Estrogen and progesterone are the main culprits. You can have your doctor check these hormones, or implement a high fat low carbohydrate diet on your own. 

A ketogenic (low carb/high fat) diet supports hormone health and reduces symptoms of PMS. The stable blood sugars balance sugar cravings and help improve brain fog. 

One word of warning, the transition period, which is known as keto-adaptation, can temporarily make you feel worse. If you stick with the diet, there are some fantastic benefits! 

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