PCOS Diets: What is the best approach?

If you have PCOS what you eat and how much you weigh can dramatically effect your health.  Researchers have found that by just losing five to ten percent of her bodyweight a women with PCOS can reduce her symptoms, and increase her fertility.PCOS DIets

Unfortunately many women with PCOS have difficulty losing weight.  This phenomenon could be attributed the insulin resistance that is common to women with PCOS.

I people who are insulin resistant, the process by which sugars are transported within the body is defective and thus requires the pancreas to produce more of the hormone insulin.  This excessive amount of insulin in the body can bring about several undesirable side effect such as polycystic ovaries, weight gain and/or difficulty losing weight, increased risk of heart disease by increasing LDL and triglycerides, decreasing HDL and increasing clotting factors.

There are many diet plans that can be used to lose weight.  Most dieters they may choose a plan that best suits their personal preferences.  However for PCOS women the choice may not be that simple.  When it comes to weight loss with PCOS some diet plans may work better then others.

Traditional calorie restriction

For many people, reducing the amount of food they eat or the calories they consume daily will result in weight loss.  The traditional guideline of  reducing your calories intake to 500 below your daily requirement  should result in a one pound per a week weight loss.  The benefit of this clear cut approach is that it is rather straight forward.  The dieter does not have to necessarily change their eating habits other then just reducing the amount of food they eat each day.

For women with PCOS this method may not deliver the promised results.  This type of diet will often include many refined carbohydrates.  Consuming refined carbohydrates might aggravate a PCOS woman’s insulin resistance and drive up the amount of insulin she produces.  Having a high level of insulin in the body could promote fat storage.

Low glycemic diet

Low glycemic diets were originally developed to help diabetics control their blood sugar.  Certain carbohydrates raise blood glucose levels faster then others, such foods are given a high glycemic index (GI) score.  Carbohydrates that digest more slowly like whole grain and veggies are given a lower GI score.  Low glycemic diet plans instruct followers to consume low GI foods and avoid high GI foods.

The theory behind low GI diets is that by avoiding high GI foods one can avoid blood sugar spikes and the subsequent spike in insulin.  It has been suggested that this style of eating increases satiety, and improves insulin sensitivity.

A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that PCOS patients who followed a low glycemic diet were able to manage the symptoms of PCOS better then those who followed a traditional healthy diet.

Low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet

Low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diets require dieter to get 30-50% of their daily calories from protein and limit their carbohydrate intake to as little as 20 grams per a day.  Carbohydrates are typically our primary source of energy so when carbohydrates are drastically cut the body begins to burn stored fat for energy thus creating weight loss.

A Duke University Medical Center study found that obese PCOS women who followed a ketogenic diet for 24 weeks lost weight, improved their insulin sensitivity, and saw improvements in their hormonal profiles.

This type of diet has its critics.  Experts have raised concerns about the high amounts of saturated fat consumed while on a low carbohydrate diet.  Severely limiting carbohydrate consumption often leads to less then optimal fiber and vitamin intake as well.

Losing weight is an important step toward managing your PCOS.  If you have PCOS and want lose weight discuss these diet options with your healthcare provider.




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