Treating PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) requires you to change your lifestyle, and I have found few as delicious as keto. If you haven’t heard of the keto diet, it is a low-carb, high-fat diet, and it has helped a lot of women in treating their PCOS symptoms.
This is because high insulin levels (caused by elevated blood sugar) triggers the production of androgens, which are male hormones that you can blame for symptoms, such as acne, hair loss, excess hair growth, even weight gain, irregular periods, and the lack of ovulation. These symptoms are strongly linked to PCOS, and the symptoms vary from woman to woman.
If the idea of giving up carbs in an effort to improve your symptoms seems daunting to you, let me put your mind at ease. If you think carbs are great, then you haven’t explored the possibilities of a keto diet fully. High-fat foods can be delicious, and are very satiating, which help a lot in reducing overall cravings.
So, how can a keto diet help PCOS?
Eating Low-Carb, High-Fat Reduces Insulin Levels
One of the first things that your doctor probably recommended, if you have been diagnosed with PCOS, that you should follow a low-GI diet to help manage your symptoms. The truth is that regardless of what you eat, every time you eat, your insulin levels go up, and a low-GI diet often is not enough to reduce insulin enough to improve your symptoms. Even fat and protein increase insulin.
Fat increases your insulin levels the least. And while protein technically doesn’t contain glucose, which is what is derived from carbohydrates for energy, if you eat too much, your body will turn the excess protein into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis. You could be saying no thank you to pasta, bread, and even vegetables, and only eat meat, but if you eat too much, a lot of your efforts will be cancelled out and your symptoms won’t improve as much.
That is why choosing a diet structure like keto – where your diet consists of roughly 70% to 90% fat, and you limit your carbohydrates to less than 50 g a day – is beneficial. What makes it different from a high protein diet like Atkins is that your protein intake is moderate. It is good to aim for 1 g of protein per kilogramme of bodyweight.
If you weigh 67 kg, you only need to aim for that amount of protein in a day on the keto diet. To give you some perspective, here is an idea of the amount of protein found in a serving of a few popular sources:
|Food||Amount||Protein in grams|
|Cottage cheese||½ cup||14|
|Peanut butter||2 tablespoons||7|
|Cheddar cheese||28 grams||7|
|Red meat||100 grams||25|
A Low-Carb Keto Diet Trains Your Body to Become Fat-Adapted
If you are still trying to figure out how to lose weight with PCOS, consider changing to a low-carb, high-fat diet. There are a few reasons for this. PCOS makes losing weight a lot harder, and if you want to have any chance of shedding any fat, you have to control your insulin levels. To do this, you need to lower your intake of sugar and processed carbohydrates, and reduce your carbohydrate consumption.
There is also another reason why it might be a good idea to go on a low-carb diet if you have polycystic ovaries. If you are eating carbohydrates regularly, or way too much protein, your body constantly has access to glucose, which is its preferred source of energy.
What happens then is that when there isn’t glucose available for energy, your body will start breaking down muscle before it will break down fat, because it can turn it into glucose. If you want to lose fat, you must train your body to prefer fat for energy. This takes time, and it can take roughly six months for most people to become fat-adapted.
How to Become Fat-Adapted to Lose Weight by Following a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet
To become fat adapted, you should eliminate sugar and carbohydrates from your diet, thereby starving your body of glucose. At the same time, you should also increase your fat intake, so that your body can become used to using fat for energy. Within a few days or weeks, remember that every person’s body is different, your body will start burning your fat when it has no available energy.
Let your carbohydrates come from vegetables, especially leafy green vegetables, which are high in folate. Women with PCOS usually have a folate deficiency.
Balance Oestrogen if You Want to Become Fat-Adapted with A Low-Carb Diet
A lot of women with PCOS also have high oestrogen levels as part of their symptoms, which inhibits your body from using fat for energy. If your oestrogen levels are too high, you will struggle to see results on a ketogenic diet. However, you can add a lot of cruciferous vegetables to your diet like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage, and supplement with DIM.
DIM is derived from cruciferous vegetables. These additions to your diet will help by aiding your body in the breakdown of oestrogen, and helping to prevent levels from becoming high.
How to Make a High-Fat Diet Delicious, so That You Won’t Miss Carbs
The first thing you need to do if you want to try a low-carb, high-fat diet is search for “fat bomb” recipes on Pinterest. Imagine an endless supply of delicious high-fat treat recipes that include fudge, ice cream, breads, muffins, and a lot of bacon. There is a high-fat, low-carb alternative for whatever your heart desires.
Ditch the chicken breast, and buy yourself some chicken wings (not the barbeque sauce filled with sugar kind), as they have more fat. Add the yolks back to your scrambled eggs, and put some coconut cream in your coffee. Fat is good. Aim for two to three servings of fat at every meal. Remember: fat is calorie-dense, so you still should not go overboard.
Too much saturated fat can also make PCOS symptoms worse by increasing testosterone levels, so make sure that you eat a lot of unsaturated fat from foods like avocado, nuts, and seeds as well to create a better balance.
Try keto and embrace a new low-carb, high-fat lifestyle for a few weeks to see if it will help with your PCOS symptoms, and help you lose weight. Keto can be life-changing. It has helped me greatly, and it might do the same for you.
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