Egg in a pan

Why a Keto Diet is Good for Managing Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal condition that affects roughly 4% of women. I am one of them. 

Treating Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can require that you switch to a healthy, low-carb diet like the ketogenic diet. If you are not familiar with the ketogenic diet, it is a low-carb diet that is high in fat, and it has proven to be quite effective in treating PCOS symptoms.

That is because having high insulin levels, caused by elevated blood sugar levels triggered by excessive carb consumption and stress, triggers the production of androgens, which are male hormones that cause Polycystic Ovary Syndrome symptoms, such as hormonal acne, cystic ovaries, hair loss, excessive hair growth, weight gain, absent or irregular periods, and anovulation. Infertility, due to a lack of ovulation, is common among women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. PCOS symptoms do differ from woman to woman. 

If simply thinking about giving up carbohydrates to improve your PCOS symptoms is already too much, allow me to put your mind at ease. If you think that carbohydrate-rich meals are wonderful, then you have not tasted the delicious possibilities of a ketogenic diet. Low-carb, high-fat foods can be really tasty and are usually very satiating, which can help you a lot in reducing hunger and cravings.

Just do a quick Pinterest search for keto recipes, or if you love dessert, check out the low-carb recipes in The Dessert Diet Club. Just know that going low-carb does not have to be boring and it can be very satisfying. 

But how can a ketogenic diet help improve symptoms associated with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

A Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet Reduces Insulin Levels in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

If you have been diagnosed, your doctor probably recommended that you follow a diet low in glycaemic carbohydrates in order to help improve and manage your symptoms. The truth is that regardless of the food you eat, each time you eat, your insulin levels rise, and I do not believe that just following a low-GI diet is enough to reduce insulin to improve symptoms for a lot of women. 

Fat has the lowest impact on your insulin levels. And while protein technically does not contain glucose, if you eat too much, your body can turn the excess protein into glucose. This process is called gluconeogenesis. You could be saying no thank you to obvious sources of carbs like pasta, rice, cereal, bread, and even vegetables, and only eat zero-carb foods like eggs and meat, but if you eat too much protein, it can kick you out of ketosis. 

How to Follow a Keto Diet To Manage Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Symptoms

When you follow a keto diet, your diet consists of 70% to 90% fat, and you limit your carbohydrates to less than 50 g or even 20 g a day. How low can you go? I do think that trying to go as low-carb as possible is beneficial for women with PCOS. Unlike a high-protein diet like the Atkins diet, your protein intake on a ketogenic diet is moderate. I still think that it is a good idea to aim for roughly 0.8 g to 1 g of protein per kilogramme of bodyweight.

The easiest way to track your protein consumption and macronutrient ratios on a ketogenic diet is through using a food-tracking app like MyFitnessPal.

Becoming Fat-Adapted With a High-Fat Diet

Being fat adapted means that your body is used to burning fat for energy. To become fat adapted, you need to switch your body from burning glucose from as its main source of energy to burning fat, which you can do by following a low-carb, high fat diet for a few weeks and/or months.

Changing to a low-carb, high-fat diet can help you lose fat when you have PCOS. There are a few reasons why it helps with fat loss. When you have PCOS, losing weight becomes a lot harder. If you want to have any chance of losing fat, controlling your insulin levels is key, as your insulin levels need to go down and your glucagon levels need to go up to trigger fat loss. 

A ketogenic diet is one of the best diets you can follow to lower insulin and treat insulin resistance when you have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

How to Make a Ketogenic Diet Delicious, so That You Will Not Miss Carbohydrates 

There is a healthy ketogenic alternative for any dish or dessert your heart desires. If you want something savoury, then you can have some fatty meat, eggs, cheese (if you choose to have dairy), bacon, crackling, nuts, etc. 

If you want something sweet, there is an endless supply of keto sweet treats known as fat bombs that you can find on Pinterest and Google. I still recommend that you check out The Dessert Diet Club, as a lot of the dessert recipes in the book are keto and can really show you how delicious a dessert diet can be.