Health & Wellness, Hormonal balance, Period Health, Women's Hormonal Health, Women's Hormonal Health

Is the Keto Diet Right for PCOS?

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Diet is the most crucial component of putting PCOS into remission.

That’s right- having PCOS does not mean you’re doomed!

PCOS is a metabolic syndrome, so women with PCOS must balance their blood sugar in order to heal, this is why many women find success (at a cost) with diabetic medications such as Metformin. However, Metformin depletes B vitamins and has unpleasant gastrointestinal effects so it’s not the ideal option. It’s best to adapt our diets first, and most times (in addition to certain supplements) this is all it takes.

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PCOS and the Keto Diet

For women with PCOS, I’m a huge fan of the Keto diet, but only as a therapeutic diet observed for about 4-12 weeks.  This is because the Keto diet can be harmful if practiced too long.

There was a small study in 2005 that tested the ability of the keto diet to help manage PCOS and even put it in remission, and it showed promising results. However, the trial groups only practiced the keto diet for 12 weeks.

You see, although the keto diet is excellent for reversing PCOS, diabetes, and balancing blood sugar, if practiced over a long period of time, women can stop menstruating.

This is because women need a certain amount of carbohydrates (somewhere around 150 grams daily) to ovulate and have a period. The keto diet calls for less than 50 grams a day, so women who practice this diet very often stop having periods a few months later.

My solution?

Keto for 4-12 weeks (in tandem with working with a health practitioner) and then practice intermittent fasting while observing a “ketoish” diet that includes healthy carbs like a serving of white rice or sweet potatoes once a day, ideally taken in the evening. As women we need to aim at about 150 grams daily.

Intermittent Fasting

A great form of Intermittent Fasting for women with PCOS is what’s called “Time Restricted Eating”. This means one goes 12-16 hours without eating, and eats all of their food for the day within a certain window. Starting at 12 hours is best (for example stopping eating at 8PM and then having breakfast at 8AM) and then working up to 14 or 16.

It’s best to limit your extended fasts of 14-16 hours to 3-4 times a week, but 12 hours should be your daily baseline.

Intermittent fasting is an excellent tool to balance blood sugar levels, increase mental clarity, boost energy levels, repair our DNA, and reset our digestive system. Basically, the more time you let pass between your dinner and your first meal of the next day, the more of an advantage you are giving your body to regenerate and replenish.

This is all due to ketones.

When you go 12 hours or more without eating, our body switches from using glycogen for fuel to fat. When the fat is burned for fuel it produces ketones. Ketones are a more efficient source of fuel for the body, as they promote weight loss as well as lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and insulin resistance.

An example schedule of how you can practice IF:

-8PM Dinner

-Wake Up: Bulletproof Matcha or Coffee

-8AM Breakfast (12 hours fasting)

or

-10AM Breakfast (14 hours fasting)

3  Diet Tips for Women with PCOS:

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1. Balance Blood Sugar Levels

It all starts with blood sugar.

It’s crucial for women with PCOS to keep their blood sugar levels balanced, because high blood sugar leads to insulin resistance, which then prompts the body to pump out more insulin which signals our ovaries to produce excess testosterone. Once we have elevated androgens, the light switch for PCOS is then turned on.

We can flip off this switch by ditching the dairy, gluten, and eating low glycemic foods. 

Women with PCOS must avoid dairy because the protein in dairy spikes our insulin- especially whey protein! Exceptions to this are butter from pasture raised cows, and ghee, but in small amounts.

Gluten should also be avoided 100% of the time, as it not only spikes blood sugar, but it’s inflammatory and provides no benefit to the body.

Everyone should avoid artificial sweeteners that contain either saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose. Studies have linked these to depression and cancer. Studies have also proven them to alter gut bacteria by killing off the good guys and promoting the growth of bad bacteria. This leads to inflammation, which is the root of all disease.

Women with PCOS need to use sweeteners with reservations. Stevia, monk fruit, and xylitol are my preferred sweeteners and can be used daily. Raw honey and maple syrup are okay on occasion.

Chromium has been shown to reduce sugar cravings, and spearmint tea is also a great option. Mint is also great for lowering testosterone so it’s a win win all around. Also, the less sugar you eat the less you’ll crave. So going on a detox from all sugar for a few weeks will help reset your taste buds. My 20-Day Hormone Reboot Detox is a great option to reset and reboot.

2. Lower Inflammation with Healthy Fats

It’s important to keep our inflammation down because staying in an inflammatory response will trigger the symptoms of PCOS.  This is why you should eat as many omega 3 fatty acid fats (the Good Guys)  as possible and stay away from the processed, junk oils (the Bad Guys).

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The Good Guys:

  • Unprocessed organic oils like coconut oil, avocados and avocado oil,
  • Organic butter from grass-fed cows, clarified butter, and extra virgin olive oil.
  • Raw nuts and seeds like chia seeds, flax seeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts.
  • Egg yolks from pastured hens.
  • Lean meat from animals that are free range and/or grass fed.
  • Coconut oil, which has special medium-chain fatty acids that promote a healthy metabolism, immune system, skin and thyroid.

The Bad Guys:

  • Corn oil
  • Canola oil
  • Soy oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats
  • Margarine and shortening

3. Clean Your Protein 

It’s best to avoid all factory farmed meat because you are what you eat, eats. If you are eating beef from a cow that was fed GMO corn, pumped with hormone and antibiotics, you are not eating steak, you are eating glyphosate ridden corn that looks like steak- it’s an inflammatory cocktail that is best to be avoided.

The same goes for farm-raised fish as well. It’s just corn that looks like fish.  This is why it’s crucial to make sure your protein is coming from a clean and humane source.

Factory farmed meat is high in xenoestrogens, which means they mimic your hormones and cause your estrogen levels to skyrocket. This is not good! Estrogen dominance is already something women with PCOS struggle with, so we mustn’t add fuel to the fire!

Signs of estrogen dominance include moodiness, bloating, breast tenderness, acne, annovulation, painful periods, and anxiety.

Game plan: Stick to humanely raised and organic meats to avoid the added hormones, antibiotics, and the inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids. When eating fish opt for Alaskan Salmon.

Remember, PCOS is not a curse. No it can’t be cured, but with the right diet and lifestyle hacks, along with the correct supplements, you can be symptom free and be a #PCOSTHRIVER just like me!

I encourage you to sign up for your 30 minute consultation with me today if you’d like more support.

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With Gratitude,

Health Coach Jenna

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