PCOS is the number one cause of infertility in women. If left untreated PCOS can increase the risk for cancer. Additionally, women with this condition are at an increased risk for diabetes and heart disease. Many experts believe that following a PCOS diet should be part of any treatment plan for this condition. While more research is needed, it’s believed that a PCOS diet can help to reduce insulin resistance. Before making any significant changes in your diet it’s important that you first consult your physician. If you have been recently diagnosed with PCOS your physician will speak to you regarding the benefits of exercise and making changes in your daily diet. They may also refer you to a dietician in order to help you to make this type of transition.
Why you may need to follow a PCOS Diet
Reducing insulin resistance will not only help with correcting erratic menstrual cycles, acne and hirsutism but it can also help to reduce the risks for diabetes or heart disease. Exactly how and why PCOS develops is not clear, however, many experts agree that insulin plays a large role. Insulin is released by the body’s pancreas, in response to food consumption, especially carbs. It will transport sugar out of the blood, into the liver cells, fat and muscles, where it will then be stored as fat or converted into energy. Most patients with PCOS will have insulin resistance. This means the process of transporting sugar out of the blood into the cells is defective because the cells are resistant to insulin. The pancreas will need to secrete more insulin in order to get sugar out of the blood and transported into the cells. High levels of insulin can wreak havoc in the patient’s body, which can lead to weight gain, difficulty losing weight, increasing clotting factors, an increased risk for heart disease and an increased risk of diabetes by the age of forty.
When it comes to treatment for PCOS, it’s no longer just directed at treating individual concerns such as an erratic menstrual cycle. Instead, treatment is now directed at treating the underlying cause of PCOS: insulin resistance. If the patient is indeed suffering from insulin resistance, this will be treated by making changes in their diet and creating an exercise program if needed. A physician may also prescribe insulin sensitizing medication. Most doctors will prefer to begin with implementing the PCOS diet and incorporating an exercise regimen and will turn to prescribing medication if necessary. Not all women with PCOS suffer from insulin resistance, but most do.
How Dietary Changes can help you Lose Stubborn Fat
About sixty percent of women with this condition are significantly overweight. It has been shown that losing around five percent of body weight can work to improve the patient’s skin, menstrual cycle regularity and decrease insulin levels. However, most women with this condition will experience difficulty losing weight, due to the high levels of insulin that promote fat storage. To lose weight the basic low fat diet may not be the most effective. A high intake of carbs can quickly turn to sugar, causing an elevated level of insulin in the body. Since a high level of insulin can cause a number of problems for the patient, a better diet would be the low glycemic index diet. This type of diet includes foods that don’t cause a rapid rise in blood sugar.
Since most patients with this condition are overweight, calories are very important. When it comes to weight control, all calories will turn to fat. In order to actually lose weight the patient will need to stay within their daily calorie goal.
For the PCOS diet, the patient should not eat carbs by themselves, but should instead combine the carbs with fat or protein. It will be important to select lower gycemic index foods, which will cause a slower rise in blood sugar. The lower glycemic carbs have more fiber than higher glycemic foods. You should never minimize your carb intake so low that you induce ketosis. Eating less than forty grams of carbs daily can induce ketosis. Carbs should be spaced out throughout the day. This causes less of a rise in blood sugar when compared to eating all of the daily allowed carbs at one meal. You should also avoid eating carbs such as pasta, which can trigger cravings. Drinking at least nine cups of fluid a day will also be important in order to avoid dehydration.
For heart health, the patient should limit foods that are high in trans and saturated fats, such as whole dairy products or red meat. Choose mainly foods that are monounstaturated fats, such as canola oil, olive oil and nuts.
Exercising regularly can help to burn calories, aiding in weight control, while also working to lower blood pressure and improving insulin resistance.
Resistance training can help the patient to build lean mass, which will help to speed up their metabolism, while also preventing osteoporosis.
How to Count Carbs
If the patient is on a very low carb diet they should check with their physician regarding the need for a potassium supplement.
Keeping track of your carb intake will be very important. You should count the total grams of carbs, not just the grams of sugar. All carbs will eventually turn into sugar in the blood. In order to count the effective grams of carbs, simply subtract the grams of fiber in the food from the total amount of carbs.