Managing PCOS can feel like an overwhelming challenge. For the majority of females with polycystic ovary syndrome, health difficulties are abundant, such as insulin insensitivity, infertility, excessive weight, as well as greater vulnerability for cardiac illness.
Reducing body mass can help with some of the effects associated with PCOS, but decreasing calories dramatically is not the best approach to eradicating excess body fat. This is not a viable solution in the long run; it typically only provides a fleeting reprieve before the individual experiences renewed hunger and gains back the weight.
In comparison, reducing carbohydrate intake appears to be the most advantageous dietary practice for women who have PCOS. Evidence exists that demonstrates a decrease in insulin resistance as well as other threats to diabetes and heart disease.
Additionally, ketogenic and low-carb regimens can incite shedding of pounds and adipose tissue through administering appetite, cutting down insulin levels, and refining hormonal oversight. Ultimately, a low-carb diet can be beneficial, healthful, and able to be sustained for an extended period of time.
It is indisputable that research data and testimonies support ketogenic and low carbohydrate diets when treating PCOS, but it is important to note that they may not be successful for everyone. Every female is unique and must discover the solution that works best for her own situation.
Nevertheless, those who suffer from PCOS may wish to experiment with a low-carb or ketogenic diet, as well as a few of the life-style adjustments addressed herein. By taking these measures, you may find it easier to conceive, lose, sustain, or maintain weight, enhance overall wellness, and enhance your quality of living.
The condition previously known as Stein-Leventhal syndrome, which was identified by two researchers close to a century ago, is now known as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
This is a typical endocrine problem that usually occurs in young adults or during the start of adulthood and is one of the most prevalent sources of infertility. It is guessed that around one fifth of women of a reproductive age have PCOS, with possibly as much as seventy percent remaining untouched upon.
In PCOS, the lack of an egg from the ovary being released each month can be caused by a disturbance of hormones, where too much luteinizing hormone (LH) is present but not enough follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
Hence, the egg fails to finish developing and produces a minuscule cyst inside the ovary. This routine is conducted every 30 days, going back and forth between the pair of ovaries, in result creating a multitude of cysts as time progresses.
A surge in LH will lead to too much androgens (hormones usually seen in males, such as testosterone) that can prevent ovulation. As well, females with PCOS have a diminished amount of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), a substance that usually holds testosterone in the bloodstream.
When SHBG is low, free testosterone rises. Overproduction of free testosterone can prevent ovulation and can create physical markers of masculinity. Ultimately, decreased SHBG levels lead to insulin insensitivity, as does the reverse scenario.
Some of the common signs and symptoms of PCOS include:
- Menstrual irregularities, including absent periods (amenorrhea) or infrequent periods (oligomenorrhea)
- Overweight and obesity
- Acanthosis nigricans (skin tags and darkened pigment in the skin folds of the armpits, groin, thighs and neck)
- Masculinization due to hyperandrogenism (high levels of testosterone, DHEA and other androgens). Symptoms include hirsuitism (excessive facial and body hair), acne, male-pattern baldness, and a deep voice
Nevertheless, not every female with PCOS displays all of these signs. In addition, some have no signature cysts present on their ovaries. Based on what is known as the Rotterdam consensus, women must meet at least two of three criteria to be diagnosed with PCOS:
- Infrequent or absent menstrual periods
- Polycystic ovaries confirmed by ultrasound
There are four different phenotypes of the disorder, yet only one in which all three criteria are met:
- Frank or Classic PCOS: menstrual irregularities, hyperandrogenism, and polycystic ovaries
- Ovulatory PCOS: regular periods, hyperandrogenism, and polycystic ovaries
- Non-PCO PCOS: menstrual irregularities, hyperandrogenism, and normal ovaries
- Normoandrogenic PCOS: menstrual irregularities, normal androgen levels, and polycystic ovaries
In addition to infertility and other chronic symptoms, women with PCOS are at increased risk for a number of diseases and health conditions, including:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Coronary artery disease (CAD)
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
- Obstructive sleep apnea
Insulin Resistance and Hyperinsulinemia Often Play a Major Role in PCOS
Approximately 64% of females dealing with PCOS have issues with insulin resistance and high insulin levels, commonly seen in those who are overweight or obese.
Women with PCOS tend to have an abundance of free testosterone plus insufficient amounts of SHBG, which leads to insulin insensitivity and accumulation of visceral fat in the abdominal zone and near the liver as well as pancreas.
Too much fat in the abdomen area leads to insulin issues, inflammation, and the further making of androgens, resulting in a difficult cycle that is difficult to get out of.
It is essential to keep in mind that not all females with PCOS go through the regular indicators of the disorder. Conversely, a large number of individuals are diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, which is a condition that makes it difficult for the body to use insulin, and is closely related to type 2 diabetes.
Metabolic syndrome is formally diagnosed by meeting at least 3 out of 5 criteria:
- Large waist circumference: 35 inches (89 cm) or higher for women
- Elevated triglycerides: 150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L) or higher
- Low HDL cholesterol: 50 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L) or lower for women
- High blood pressure: 130/85 mm Hg or higher
- Elevated fasting blood sugar: 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) or higher
An investigation of females with PCOS determined that almost half (43%) satisfied the terms of metabolic syndrome.
There was a difference in free testosterone levels, SHBG levels, and the presence of acanthosis nigricans between women with just PCOS and those who had both PCOS and insulin resistance. The women with both conditions had higher levels of free testosterone, lower levels of SHBG, and a greater prevalence of acanthosis nigricans, all marks of intense insulin resistance.
PCOS and Weight Loss
People with PCOS whose bodies do not properly respond to insulin usually have a very hard time reaching and staying at a healthy weight. Approximately four out of five women in the U.S. suffering from PCOS are either overweight or obese.
It is often recommended that these women shed pounds in an effort to prevent the continuation of insulin resistance and hormone irregularities, which can put them at a greater risk of illness and interrupt normal hormonal patterns.
Although it is simple to say, anyone who is prone to this condition recognize that it is difficult to reduce their weight and sustain the accomplishment.
Research has concluded that when someone minimizes the amount of calories they are consuming to a low number, it results in weight loss for the majority of people, including those with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
A controlled investigation spanning a period of four weeks revealed that when females suffering from PCOS were supplied with an 1,000 calorie diet that either had more or less protein content, both groups experienced a decrease in their body weight and also showed reductions in their blood sugar and insulin levels.
This study indicates that restricting your caloric intake leads to weight loss, but these diets are neither healthy nor practical in the long run. Lowering calorie consumption too much can cause refluxed hunger and overeating, lack of energy and emotional troubles.
In addition, drastic cutting of calories leads to decrease in muscle mass and a slowing down of the metabolic rate, making it difficult to sustain weight loss in the long run.
Keto for PCOS
Keto is a beneficial approach to PCOS as it is designed to address the source of the condition and not just the indications. Keto means eating high-fat and ultra-low carbs. Lowering the amount of carbohydrates you consume significantly reduces the amount of glucose in your bloodstream.
It appears that having elevated glucose levels in the bloodstream might be the source of PCOS. Glucose has two main effects that can cause Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): It can lead to prolonged imbalances in hormones. By causing chronic oxidative stress–what we commonly call inflammation.
Glucose raises insulin levels. Evidence suggests that too much insulin in the body, a state known as hyperinsulinemia, is a major contributor to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Hyperinsulinemia has the effect of reducing production of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), leading to an escalation of levels of male sex hormones (androgens) in females with PCOS.
The presence of excessive amounts of testosterone and other male hormones can disrupt how ovulation functions since it prevents the production of progesterone while keeping estrogen concentrations elevated.
The disruption of hormones triggers the follicles that should have matured and detached from the ovary to either stay attached and continue to expand or stay behind in a pouch.
The sac that is left over can reseal and be filled up with a liquid, thus resulting in a cyst. An ultrasound can be used to observe the progression of cysts over a period of time. Hormonal manifestations connected to PCOS can include enlarged hair growth, overweight, a lack of libido, and other problems.
Research has indicated that the ingestion of carbohydrates has been associated with inflammation and oxidation imbalances in many studies.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is an inflammatory condition, thus it is clear that how many carbohydrates one consumes is a major factor when it comes to PCOS. Research indicates that women with PCOS may suffer from increased oxidative stress and cellular inflammatory responses if their diet is especially rich in carbohydrates.
The surplus of male hormones in women who have PCOS may aggravate inflammatory cells, even when carbohydrate consumption is not taking place.
The cells that were initially stimulated by ingestion of carbohydrates, and then overwhelmed by male hormones, are further vulnerable to inflammation caused by the presence of glucose.
Analysis have indicated that women who have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) have a greater proportion of abdominal fat than those who do not have PCOS. It has been established that this is valid even for female individuals who do not possess an excessive level of bodyweight.
In women suffering from PCOS, this fat around the abdomen is continually creating inflammation. Even if you are on medications intended to address hormone imbalances connected to PCOS, inflammation can still occur in women of a normal weight.
Keto for PCOS: What the Studies Say
Despite the traditional medical field being slow to accept the benefits of the ketogenic diet, recent studies provide optimism in regards to treating Polycystic Ovary Syndrome with it.
A research conducted on females with polycystic ovarian syndrome who followed a ketogenic regimen for a period of half a year showed that the individuals lost on average 12% of their body mass and decreased their insulin level by 54%. It is noteworthy that the hormonal disturbances linked to PCOS make it very challenging to shed pounds.
An extensive study focusing on PCOS and infertility demonstrated that minimizing insulin resistance was an indispensable element in managing PCOS and improving fertility.
A 2017 analysis of seven studies with high-grade data that investigated how low carbohydrate diets affect fertility hormones in overweight and obese women concluded that lessening the carbohydrate intake leads to decreased insulin in the body, a corrected hormonal irregularity, and the return of ovulation. All these factors were shown to improve pregnancy rates.
Keto for PCOS Guidelines
These are some easy to follow pointers and a set of advantageous supplements that can help you in designing the ideal keto diet plan specifically for PCOS.
Enjoy a high fat, very low carb diet
Attempt to establish a target to begin under 50 grams of overall carbs each day.
Allow for a few days for your diet to take hold, making sure that you are getting 70-80% of your calories from fat. In order to boost your ketone levels, decrease your carbohydrate intake by 5-10 grams a day and this should propel your ability to burn fat.
Make the most of the hours while fasting naturally during the night by not eating breakfast and having lunch instead. Once 12 hours has elapsed since the last meal consumed the night before, the physical body is now in the “fasted” position and will start to burn fat for energy.
Once you are comfortable with limiting your meals to 12 hours apart, attempt to extend the period of time between meals to 16 hours. Some of the advantages of periodic fasting include shedding pounds, improved insulin sensitivity, hindering of unhealthy bacteria in the gut, better brain functions, and lower levels of inflammation.
Engage in mild physical activity for a period of between half an hour and 45 minutes four times a week to enable your body to burn fat, produce ketones, and reduce weight while maintaining a healthy level of insulin. If you are interested in yoga or are just starting out, this guide can help you locate the form of yoga that is suitable for you.
Water is critical to treating and recovering from PCOS. Aquatic movement delivers hormones to diverse sections of the physical structure, removes damaging toxins, and supplies necessary nutrients to reproductive organs.
Fast Facts About Keto for PCOS
- Roughly 1 in 10 women have PCOS, making it one of the most common conditions causing infertility.
- PCOS often goes undiagnosed until a woman is found to be infertile.
- Common symptoms of PCOS include irregular or absent menstrual cycles, excessive hair growth, and infertility.
- A high-carbohydrate diet may be the primary contributing factor of PCOS
- Carbohydrates cause inflammation and hormonal disturbances–the root causes of PCOS.
- PCOS is often treated with diabetes medications that target blood sugar and insulin levels.
- Keto is a high fat, ultra low carb diet that reduces blood sugar and insulin.
Eating lots of carbs raises the levels of sugar in the blood which leads to a high insulin concentration and oxidative tension. These are the primary factors that lead to PCOS.
Excess amounts of insulin can lead to hormonal irregularities, while the problem of oxidative stress leads to the inflammation of cells throughout the whole body. A ketogenic diet, which involves the restriction of carbohydrates, works to lower insulin levels and decrease inflammation, and is therefore an effective way to address the origin of polycystic ovary syndrome.