Did you know there is a way to get most women’s PCOS under control, and lose weight with ease?
PCOS is fundamentally an issue with insulin regulation and use in the body. When that system is broken, our hormones get all out of whack, and an ever-increasing spiral of fatness starts happening.
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What Happens in PCOS
For whatever reason that triggers it in the first place, your insulin levels are raised, which causes your cells to become less sensitive to the insulin. Insulin is like the annoying guy that keeps throwing things through your window.
So your cells start boarding up their windows to keep all that insulin out.
Your body has to make more insulin to get the message through.
This raised level of insulin triggers the release of estrogen and testosterone from the ovaries (and insulin can act like testosterone as well!).
Raising estrogen encourages fat storage. Fat cells also produce estrogen. Which encourages more fat storage (can you see where we are going?)
Insulin’s main job is to shunt sugar into your body’s cells that are hungry for some energy.
But because there has been so much insulin around for so long, many of the cells have boarded up most of their insulin/sugar windows. So despite the cells screaming “I’m hungry” and there being plenty of sugar and insulin around, it is failing to get through the windows in to the cells, as most of them are now boarded up.
So the cells yell louder, and your brain gets the message and sends you off to go and eat the sugar your cells are so desperately craving.
Mean while your poor liver is struggling under the weight of all this sugar that you are eating, but the insulin isn’t able to shunt it into cells, so the liver has to convert it to fat.
Also the liver’s job is to break down the extra estrogen that is running around, but because it is so overworked, it only gets halfway through breaking it down, before pinging it back out into the blood stream as dealing with the sugar is more critical – too much loose sugar can kill you within hours, loose estrogen just gives you chronic symptoms.
This half metabolized estrogen is still biologically active, so it runs around doing all the things normal estrogen does, including encouraging more fat storage.
What does all this have to do with the keto diet??
How the Keto Diet can Stop the PCOS Fat Spiral
The fundamental essence of the Keto Diet (also known as LCHF ) is the obvious lack of sugar and carbohydrates that your body converts to glucose (sugar).
Basically, a ketogenic diet significantly restricts carbohydrates, while focusing heavily on high fats (healthy fats) and moderate protein.
The upshot to this is your body will learn how to burn fat as its main fuel source, not glucose.
Without all the spare sugar running around in your body, your insulin levels will drop. Without the insulin being annoyingly at the window all the time, eventually (3-12months) the cells will start to un-board their windows, making a clear path for the insulin to deliver the glucose in to the cells normally again.
The burning of fat instead of glucose creates a by-product called ketones, hence the name of the keto diet (1).
The Benefits of Ketogenic Diet for PCOS
This is the most obvious, and the one we all line up at the doors to get. The keto diet is one of the easiest, and for some women the only, way to lose weight with PCOS.
Once you have cut off the supply to the carbs and sugar, your body is forced in to burning fat for fuel. It can be quite a rough 7-10 days while your body makes this switchover. But once you are there, the fat will start to melt off.
I am not about weight loss, for weightloss’ sake. I believe even us fatties can be healthy, and can be fertile and can have babies. It is not about vanity. It is about allowing your body the freedom from all those excess hormones, and all the damage that excess insulin and sugar is doing long term to your body.
A Reduction in Cravings
As you can see from the story above, when you are caught in this cycle, your body is ACTUALLY hungry. That need for sugar is real, it is strong and it is so hard to fight.
Once you have powered through the first 7-10 days, you will notice your cravings start to lessen. I find that myo-inositol really reduced my sugar cravings too. It is a great supplement for women with PCOS to take alongside doing the Ketogenic diet.
Sugar spikes and crashes are the main driver of hunger signals in most women with PCOS. Removing the carbs that cause these crashes, and introducing healthy fats that keep you full for much longer means that you won’t feel like you are starving yourself like you do on other calorie restricted diets.
No Calorie Counting
There are no calorie counting, no points and no spreadsheets. Once you have found some keto friendly recipes, you don’t have to worry about any of those numbers anymore.
Simply eat until you are satisfied, and eat again when you are hungry. Eat plenty of leafy green vegetables, some healthy protien and plenty of healthy fats (butter, lard, tallow, olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil.)
Improved Hormone Balance
One study conducted with women with PCOS who followed a LCHF diet for 6 months found significantly reduced testosterone, fasting insulin and improved LH/ FSH ratio. The women also lost about 12% of their body weight over the 6 months (3).
You will probably find your cycles become more regular, and you have less trouble with acne too.
The Down Side to the Keto Diet
The Carb Flu
This cute phrase is code for “feel like absolute rubbish”. As your body is switching from sugar fuel to fat fuel, it can be a rough ride.
Take it easy on yourself, drink plenty of water, and rest as much as you need to. It will pass and you will feel amazeballs for it in 7-10 days. I promise.
The diet can be hard to follow
Following a ketogenic diet can be very restrictive and difficult to follow. You are eliminating a huge amount of carbohydrates and that can be difficult for a lot of people.
Keep good snacks in your bag and in the car, and try your best to plan ahead. Eat before you go out, so you won’t be starving and vulnerable when you get there.
How to get started on a Keto Diet to treat PCOS
First off read what you can eat and what you can’t eat on a keto diet. After that, I want to to focus mostly on what you CAN eat. Eat nutritious, whole foods. We are focused on giving your body a high nutrient diet, that is full of all the things it needs to heal itself.
Then grab a copy of the Keto Reset Diet book by Mark Sisson from Marks Daily Apple. He has a plan in there that will wean you on the the Ketogenic Diet over the first 21 days, and it has meal plans and recipes there for you.
Remember to beat PCOS with diet, you should be both gluten and dairy free, so skip or substitute any dairy in LCHF or keto recipes that you find.