Multiple disorders afflict the reproductive health of women. The reason is their nutritional deficiencies and sedentary lifestyle.
About 1 out of 10 women of childbearing age suffer from PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). That can lead to hormonal imbalances, weight gain, severe acne, and infertility.
Therefore, women prefer ketogenic diets and low-carb food to improve their puberty health. So then the question arises: Is keto good for PCOS?
Indeed, the PCOS keto diet can be proven beneficial when it is done within recommended guidelines. My goal in this article is to discuss how PCOS and ketogenic diet relate to each other.
Table of Content
What is PCOS?
PCOS is a condition that primarily affects teenage girls and young women. Particularly those with a growing uterus (after puberty). Typically, a patient suffering from PCOS is abnormally releasing male hormones (androgens).
PCOS also generates other symptoms. For instance:
- Heavy menstruation
- Infrequent menstruation
- Coarse hair on the body
- Congenital disorders
Furthermore, ovarian cells may grow a little larger than usual in this condition.
Physically, it is encircled by fluid follicles that may inflame or infect the ovary. Thus, it disrupts the expected release of eggs from follicle tubes.
Apparently, PCOS symptoms are not worse at first. Most of the women ignore their symptoms until they encounter a major reproductive disorder. It primarily causes defects during the pregnancy period.
The symptoms of PCOS manifest in different ways in women. Specifically, your doctor can diagnose the PCOS by examining the following symptoms:
- Coarse facial and body hair (hirsutism)
- Irregular periods
- Heavy mensuration
- Prolonged menstrual cycles
- Fluid-filled follicles
- Menstrual Cramps
- Male-pattern baldness
- Sudden weight gain
- Severe acne
- Clogged pores
- Darken and yellow skin around armpits, necks, bikini areas
- High Insulin level etc.
Besides these, people with PCOS can also experience:
- Mood swings
- Stomach problems
- Skin problems
The majority of PCOS sufferers have insulin resistance. Which means they produce insulin but are unable to make effective use of it. Furthermore, people with insulin resistance are more likely to develop diabetes type 2.
Also, PCOS can result in patches of dark, thick, velvety skin known as acanthosis nigricans.
Causes of PCOS
A woman may develop ovarian cysts at any age after puberty. In particular, women who are overweight and malnourished are vulnerable to this condition.
Although, there is no known cause and reason for cystic ovaries. Yet, here is a list of some factors that can harm your ovary health:
- Having high insulin levels may result in increased androgen production. That results in irregular ovulation.
- Polycystic ovaries produce androgens in response to inflammation (deficiency of white blood cells).
- Some genetic factors may be involved in PCOS.
- Hormonal imbalances lead to hirsutism and acne when the ovaries produce excess androgen.
Besides these, PCOS can also be triggered by
- Sedentary lifestyles
- Unhealthy diets
How Do You Know if You Have PCOS?
In the United States, PCOS is responsible for 5 to 12% of infertility cases. Surprisingly, most women do not realize their ovaries are affected until they begin experiencing symptoms or encounter any serious complications.
Although, there is no single test to diagnose polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). However, physical examinations, ultrasounds, and blood tests can help with diagnosis.
Your doctor tests your blood estrogen levels through a blood test. And performs an ultrasound for your ovaries examination.
As soon as you meet two of the following diagnosing criteria. Your doctor will immediately recommend you PCOS treatment.
- Menstruation abnormality (infrequent, heavy, missed, painful, and prolonged periods)
- High level of androgen in your blood
- Cysts in your ovaries (as seen on an ultrasound)
In case of these symptoms, you should communicate with your doctor for a diagnosis. Otherwise, your marriage relations and pregnancy can be disturbed seriously.
Is Keto Good for PCOS?
A healthy diet can benefit those suffering from PCOS and infertility as it improves egg quality and may increase pregnancy chances. However, is the keto diet good for PCOS? Yes, of course!
A PCOS diet can help you to minimize the effect of PCOS. Consequently, the diet helps the body to maintain normal insulin levels.
When your body enters ketosis, all the stored fat in the body starts to burn. Thereby causing you to lose weight. The result will be an improvement in insulin sensitivity.
A ketogenic diet is more likely to improve egg quality due to its lower carbs and higher protein content (consume 25% of your calories from protein).
Even so, the keto diet may be beneficial for women's health. There are always exceptions to the rule, though. So, if you plan to add keto to your diet, make sure you do your research and ask your dietitian for advice.
Keto Diet Guidelines that PCOS Women Need to Know
It is beneficial to switch to a ketogenic diet if you have PCOS. However, exercise, anti-inflammatory foods, and a healthy lifestyle can also help reduce PCOS symptoms. Below are a few guidelines to create the right ketogenic PCOS diet plan:
Eat a Relatively Low Carbohydrate Diet
Setting your keto goal with 50 grams or fewer carbs per day is the best way to achieve ketosis. Certainly, you will experience some symptoms in this initial zone.
If symptoms persist after a couple of weeks. Gradually increase carbohydrates by 5 grams per day until energy levels return.
Once you retain a healthy energy level, try to reduce 5-10 grams of carb intake per day. Consequently, this will increase fat-burning capacity and free-floating ketone levels.
Fasting is the natural phenomenon to burn fats and kill cancerous cells. Generally, you can fast overnight by skipping breakfast and eating at lunchtime.
Indeed, your body will enter in a fasted state when 12 hours have passed since your last meal. Thus, it automatically burns fat for energy.
When you get the hang of twelve hours in between the meals, try to extend the fasting period to 16 hours.
This intermittent fasting helps you in:
- Fat loss
- Starvation of harmful gut microbes
- Reduced inflammation
- Insulin sensitivity
- Neurological improvements
Do some exercise
Mild exercise for 30 minutes four times a week will help you in
- Lose weight
- Burn fat
- Increase ketones
- Regulate insulin levels
YOGA is yet another form of exercise that may be helpful for PCOS in terms of:
- Improving insulin resistance
- Balancing hormone levels
- Reducing risk factors for heart disease.
Keep Hydrated all the time
It would help if you drank a lot of water to recover from PCOS. Water transports hormones and drives away toxins. Moreover, it also transports nutrients and minerals. Thus, water is essential for building and maintaining a healthy body.
Certainly, ketogenic food lacks several nutrients. Therefore, some natural supplements are recommended, along with keto food. Taking certain supplements with keto can indeed lowering the symptoms associated with PCOS. For instance:
- Help regulate hormones
- Lower insulin resistance
- Reduce inflammation
However, due to the possibility of interactions with other PCOS treatments. You should consult your dietician before taking any of the following:
Apple Cider Vinegar
In treating PCOS, apple cider vinegar has proved helpful because it regulates the level of blood hormones.
Additionally, it promotes weight management. As well as blood sugar levels and regulate ovulation. Consequently, it improves menstrual cycles.
Amount to take: 1-2 tablespoons daily
Flax seeds include omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, which help alleviate PCOD and PCOS symptoms.
It also contains lignan, a type of antioxidant. Moreover, it increases the chances of conception and regulates the menstrual cycle.
Flax seeds are also known for their anti-androgen, anti-insulin, and anti-sex-hormone properties. Thus, it is an ideal supplement for women with PCOS.
Cinnamon lowers insulin levels in the blood. Consequently, it helps women suffering from PCOS to regulate their menstrual cycles naturally.
Moreover, it ensures the proper functioning of the ovaries.
Amount to take: ½ to 1 tablespoon daily
Nutritionists recommend including nuts in every diet. The most beneficial nuts for women with PCOS are walnuts and almonds.
The consumption of almonds decreases androgen levels. Additionally, walnuts boost sex hormone-binding protein. Thus, a handful of nuts every day can be considered a healthy food choice.
Foods like citrus fruits and nuts naturally contain inositol- a chemical compound. Inositol stimulates ovulation and enhances embryo implantation in women.
Also, inositol helps to lower insulin, androgen, and testosterone levels in the bloodstream.
Magnesium supplements aids in the lowering of PCOS symptoms. However, its deficiency can cause insulin sensitivity and nerve excitability.
Moreover, a lack of magnesium can also result in stress, fatigue, and insomnia since the keto diet lacks many nutrients. So it is strongly recommended to add magnesium supplements to your diet plan.
A healthy immune system depends on zinc. It is a key component of enzymes, hormones, and hormone receptors. Zinc deficiency can cause hormonal imbalances and aggravate PCOS.
Vitamins are essential for those who wish to start a family. Keto dieters should consider adding vitamin D, B6, B9, folate, and vitamin B12.
Moreover, vitamins play a crucial role in improving hormonal balance in PCOS.
PCOS Keto Diet Plan
Ketogenic diets can be helpful for PCOS sufferers. However, you should seek the advice of a dietitian for a proper diet plan.
Be sure to follow all dietary guidelines and nutritional amounts for your body.
Also, it would help if you didn't leave a keto diet plan halfway. Otherwise, you will not achieve your goals and will need to restart keto from the beginning.
While on PCOS, make sure you do some brief research, stay motivated, and don't give up. Consequently, you will definitely conquer your keto diet!
How to Build Your Plate to Better Manage PCOS
Balanced meals start on your plate. Foods that are real, whole, and unprocessed are the foundation for good health.
Leafy and non-starchy vegetables should occupy half of your plate. Next, add one-quarter of starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes) or gluten-free grains (tapioca, quinoa).
What should be in the last quarter? A good source of lean protein. Lastly, use virgin coconut oil or olive oil as extra fat on your plate. The only thing you need to ensure is the correct portion sizes.
In addition, you'll feel full and satisfied. And you're less likely to snack on sugary and processed foods that cause inflammation.
Foods to Avoid on PCOS
To cope with PCOS, you should be wary of the food you eat.
As a PCOS sufferer, here is a list of food to stay away from:
- Refined Carbohydrates (white bread, pastries, etc.)
- Fast and Junk food
- Carbonated drinks (sodas, cola, etc.)
- Energy drinks
- Processed meat (sausages, luncheon meats, hot dogs, etc.)
- Solid fats
- Excess of red meat (steaks, hamburgers, porks, etc.)
Avoid these things to prevent PCOS (or keep it from deteriorating)
The factors below may contribute to worsening your PCOS symptoms. Therefore, PCOS women should avoid the following factors.
- Foods with high sugar content
- Chronic stress and depression
- Exercise too much or too little
- Exceeding the recommended calorie intake
- Calories restriction (low-muscle-to-fat ratio)
- Overweight or obese (high muscle-to-fat ratio)
- Exposure to chemicals that disrupt endocrine function. Including methylparaben, nicotine, bisphenol A, 4-methyl benzylidene, sodium fluoride, and PCBs/PBDEs
Can PCOS patients lose weight?
Although losing weight can be a challenging task for PCOS women. However, it isn't impossible at all. Women with PCOS can lose weight by avoiding carbohydrates. And increasing their intake of healthy fats and proteins. Together with exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
How can I get rid of my PCOS belly?
Certainly, PCOS causes you to gain weight due to fat storage. If you follow a ketogenic diet or consume low-carb foods, you can burn these fats. Furthermore, supplements and exercise can help you lose tummy fat.
Is Keto Good for PCOS?
Ketogenic diets may help PCOS women to lose weight and manage blood sugar levels. Moreover, it helps regulate hormones and menstruation.
Does a low-carb diet help PCOS?
A low-carbohydrate diet with healthy fats can help to alleviate PCOS symptoms. As it helps maintain average body weight. Thus, this uproots certain factors related to PCOS.
Does PCOS affect your weight?
Certain metabolic changes afflict PCOS women. Due to abnormal hormone release (insulin, androgen, testosterone, etc.). As a result, they gain abnormal fat and become obese. Indeed, 80% of PCOS women are overweight.
Can PCOS be reversed with diet?
A healthy diet, intermittent fasting, and stress management can help with PCOS symptoms. Indeed, PCOS symptoms are significantly reduced by these treatments.
A Healthy Future Depends on Women's Health!
While PCOS is incurable yet, a healthy diet and regular physical activity can help to alleviate its symptoms. Additionally, the PCOS keto diet can be helpful.
On the whole, women of today need to take good care of their period hygiene and ovary health as they are the creators of new lives.
Hence, their offspring must be in good health and should be safe. Indeed, a proper diet and a healthy internal system are needed to achieve this.
So, women stay well with healthy diets and lifestyles!