- What is Ketogenic Diet?
- Is Keto Diet Good for PCOS?
- PCOS Weight Loss Diet: How To Control PCOS With Diet?
- PCOS Diet Tips: How to Diet with PCOS?
- What Should I Not Eat with PCOS?
- Food Diary: Which Is The Best Diet App For PCOS?
- Putting It All Together
Clueless which diet to follow to jumpstart your weight loss? With hundreds of diets available, you’re probably wondering which diet is safe, effective and most importantly would help manage your PCOS symptoms.
After losing a few pounds from taking medication alone (Metformin), I was so inspired to lose more via diet and exercise.
Browsing through Instagram, I saw this latest diet craze that social media influencers and celebs swear by – the Keto diet.
Few pieces of research later, I found out that some doctors actually recommend the Keto diet for PCOS patients…
Before we jump into it, I must admit I’ve been a yo-yo dieter at some point which is definitely not good for my body. I’ve tried quick diets (such as the Military Diet and Cabbage Soup Diet) and long-term ones (such as turning vegan and later on doing 80/20 diet).
I love the long-term ones as they keep me full and satisfied. However, I started questioning if the minimal (to none) intake of fat (sidenote: butter is life for me), meats and other sources of protein is really for me.
I felt less energetic, often times dizzy and got terrible headaches here and there – red flags that my chosen diet wasn’t working.
So, that’s the reason I chose to give the Keto diet a try. Healthy meat, proteins, and fats, here I come!
What is Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet (or keto for short) is a diet that consists mainly of fats and a tiny amount of carbohydrates.
By replacing your carbs with fats, your body goes into a metabolic state which is known as Ketosis and through this, you can effectively burn fat and turn it into energy!
Fat in your liver is also turned into Ketones which supplies your brain with the energy it needs. Compared to other diets, this seems to be the best diet for women with PCOS.
Is Keto Diet Good for PCOS?
A PCOS weight loss diet that will reverse or totally cure PCOS symptoms is yet to be discovered. But don’t you worry girl, medical professionals all over the world are working hard to find us a diet that is both safe and effective.
As a matter of fact, a study done by medical researchers confirmed that a low-glycemic index diet yields positive results for women with PCOS.
However, the results of this study seemed mediocre in contrast to another study where the Ketogenic diet was used. In this study, 5 overweight women were put on keto (taking only 25 grams of carbs daily) for a span of 24 weeks. The results of this study are mind blowing, it showed:
- 12% average weight loss.
- 22% decrease in free testosterone.
- 54% drop in fasting insulin.
- As a bonus, 2 out of 5 women got pregnant albeit having infertility problems prior to testing.
These results are somewhat expected as Keto has been around for quite some time and has been tried by both healthy individuals and those with Type 2 Diabetes.
And they’ve shown a remarkable improvement in their insulin levels while reducing insulin resistance, something that women with PCOS could benefit from aside from rapid weight loss.
PCOS and Keto seem like the perfect match, in my opinion!
PCOS Weight Loss Diet: How To Control PCOS With Diet?
Losing weight is the key to managing PCOS symptoms. Personally, it feels like a balancing act trying to keep your hormones and glucose within the normal range through healthy eating and some physical activity.
Effective weight loss through diet can be achieved through the following:
Minimize Your Intake of High-Carbohydrate Foods
I’m not telling you to go starve yourself, but do you really need to eat that donut? Try replacing your carbs with a healthier and high-fiber version: grab an apple, a handful of grapes, a few slices of cucumber or a handful of nuts.
It’ll keep you full while increasing your fiber intake.
Read more on this here.
Avoid Eating (or Drinking) Excess Calories
I used to enjoy my meals with a side of soda (high sugar = high calories). But after being diagnosed with PCOS, this is the first thing I omitted in my life.
Yep, we don’t need to eat or drink to our heart’s content (it’s actually more of mental contentment!), eating and drinking in moderation and calorie counting (more on this later) are the keys in making sure you’re not going overboard!
Take It Easy With Gluten!
Y’all probably going like “What?! Why is gluten bad for PCOS? I thought whole wheat is healthy!”
Well, sorry to burst your gluten-filled bubble girls but gluten can ante up your chances of getting inflammation and autoimmune diseases, thanks to insulin resistance that typically marks PCOS. More on that here.
PCOS Diet Tips: How to Diet with PCOS?
Dieting has such a bad rep. Prior to starting my weight loss journey, I saw dieting as being deprived of food (goodbye my favorites), I was so afraid to be hungry.
More than the act itself, dieting is a mindset. Instead of focusing on things that I can’t eat, I shifted my focus on the hundreds, even thousands of food that I can replace it with.
The best foods for polycystic ovarian syndrome are fiber-rich vegetables that are low in carbs, lean protein, and healthy fats.
But since vegetables are not created equal (yes potatoes, you can’t sit with us), here are some of the best vegetables for PCOS that will support your Keto diet:
- Cruciferous veggies like cauliflower, broccoli and Brussel sprouts (if you can’t eat them in their normal state, you can turn them into something else. Cauliflower rice, broccoli tater tots, the options are endless!)
- Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, arugula, etc.)
- Bell peppers (green, red, yellow make your plate as colorful as the rainbow!)
- Beans and lentils *
- Almonds and walnuts
- All sorts of berries
- Daikon Radish
* Although soybeans are classified under the bean family, women with PCOS should avoid soy products (such as soy milk, tofu, tempeh, and miso) as much as possible as it can contribute to an overflow of the female hormone, estrogen, which may directly affect our fertility.
What Should I Not Eat with PCOS?
Okay, here’s the part y’all are waiting for… presenting, the antagonists in the polycystic ovaries diet:
- Soy products.
- Dairy (except butter) – Regardless whether a study proved that full-fat milk contributes less to infertility compared to low-fat milk, the end result is the same, PCOS and dairy just doesn’t mix well! It’s just like choosing the lesser evil. In that case, go full fat or go home.
- Refined carbohydrates (including processed food and all sorts of sugar) – bread, pastries, cakes, pasta (especially those made with wheat), food and drinks containing any type of sugar.
- Red meat.
- Processed meat products.
As mentioned earlier, a good dose of protein is also recommended. Fish and chicken are good sources of protein for women with PCOS.
How would you know if you’re getting enough proteins and other macros? Through the keto calculator or the best calorie counting app!
Food Diary: Which Is The Best Diet App For PCOS?
I may not be a fan of the weighing scale (and yes even the tape measure!) as they seem inconsistent in my opinion (a difference in 10 pounds between two scales is enough for me not to trust it!) but if there’s one thing I’m totally obsessed about, it’s using a food diary or a calorie counter app.
Easy. I want to make sure I’m not going overboard with what I’m taking in my body.
Which app is my fave? My Fitness Pal! I’ve been a user of this amazing app for 3 years now.
How does it work? It begins by calculating your required daily calorie intake based on your target weight loss and your timeline (how soon you want to achieve your target). After it sets your daily goal, feel free to enter all the food and drinks that you’ll be taking in.
It even has a barcode scanner that automatically searches for that specific food, neat! At the end of the day, you can check if you’ve been on track with your goal, went overboard or under your daily calorie intake (even check the macros, which is vital for keto diet).
What’s more, is that you can link your health apps (such as a pedometer or running apps, even your Apple watch and Fitbit) with My Fitness Pal*. If you do, it will automatically calculate the total calories burned from your physical activity and deduct that from your current calorie intake.
I mentioned how tracking your macros is vital in the Ketogenic diet. The amount of fats, carbs, and proteins that you should intake daily varies per person. It is dependent on your height, weight and physical activity level.
To calculate for your required daily macros (to guide you when you’re using My Fitness Pal), you can check out this helpful website: https://www.ruled.me/keto-calculator/
*My Fitness Pal can be downloaded from both the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Is Coffee Bad With PCOS?
At the moment, there are two contrasting opinions that make the answer to this a bit confusing.
One shows that shortly after drinking a cup of coffee, the caffeine component of this drink makes your body less sensitive to insulin (aggravating insulin resistance which is a characteristic of PCOS).
However, the other claims that long-term intake of coffee may actually improve insulin resistance reducing your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
I personally think that it’s not just coffee itself that is causing problems but the add-ons as well. Do you like to drink it with a splash of milk or soy milk? Non-dairy creamer? Two cubes of sugar?
See, all these may add on to your daily calorie level and not to mention increase your glucose level.
Want a healthier alternative to drinking regular coffee? Try the decaffeinated version!
If you’re planning to start Keto, might as well give Bulletproof coffee a try. Using brewed decaf coffee as your base, add unsalted butter and MCT oil to your cup and voila! The perfect supplement to your keto diet!
Are Eggs Good With PCOS?
By all means, yes! Eggs are loaded with nutrients that help alleviate PCOS symptoms while being an awesome source of protein!
Egg whites contain all the vital amino acids needed by our muscles, nerves, and tissues to function well (like a well-oiled machine!) while egg yolk contains vitamins and minerals that are critical for eye health (such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and carotenoids).
Make it a part of your breakfast, add it on to salad, just don’t go crazy, ok! Eggs are definitely part of a Keto diet, so you should be fine.
Can PCOS Be Reversed?
The truth of the matter is… PCOS is a lifetime condition. On the good side, its symptoms are totally manageable. When paired with medications, diet, and exercise, you can stay on top of your PCOS.
To learn more about PCOS and it’s symptoms and my experience with it, you can read my article on PCOS here.
Putting It All Together
Keeping your PCOS symptoms manageable or letting it rule your life depends on one person – you!
You have to want to make changes that will benefit your own body (like trying Keto diet for PCOS). You don’t have to implement a lot of changes all in one day, things just don’t work that way.
An important rule is to BE REALISTIC in setting your goals. Start small and start now (don’t wait till New Year before you start changing your bad habits). Expect to fail a lot of times, learn from it and forgive yourself.
The most important thing is that you keep trying and keep pushing forward until that day comes when it doesn’t feel like you’re trying at all.
According to a Chinese proverb “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, there’s no shortcut to amazing results, you have to work hard for it.
The fact that you’re here reading this article means that you’re interested in making a change, now you’re ready to take the next step!
Which lifestyle changes are you willing to make today? Write them in the comments box below. I wish you the best of luck in your journey.