Polyscystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is closely related to insulin resistance so it is not surprising that a low carbohydrate diet is helpful in thIs condition.
According to the PCOS Guidelines issued by the American Reproductive Medicine Association (ASRM) in 2018, the implementation of a healthy lifestyle is the first line management method for all PCOS patients. Modification of the diet, adequate exercise, and effective weight loss, all play an important role in PCOS treatment.
In 2005, Mavropoulos and colleagues followed 11 women with PCOS as they went on a ketogenic diet for six months. The five women who completed the study lost weight and improved their hormonal status and perceived amount of body hair.
Mavropoulos, J.C., Yancy, W.S., Hepburn, J. et al. The effects of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet on the polycystic ovary syndrome: A pilot study. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2, 35 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1186/1743-7075-2-35
Gower’s 2013 study found that even a very modest reduction in carbohydrates (41% of calories) can lead to significant improvements in weight, hormones and risk factors for women with PCOS Gower BA, Chandler-Laney PC, Ovalle F, et al. Favourable metabolic effects of a eucaloric lower-carbohydrate diet in women with PCOS. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2013;79(4):550-557. doi:10.1111/cen.12175
A 2017 review of clinical trials by McGrice and colleagues found that low-carb diets tend to reduce circulating insulin levels, improve hormonal imbalance and resume ovulation to improve pregnancy rates.
McGrice M, Porter J. The effect of low carbohydrate diets on fertility hormones and outcomes in overweight and obese women: a systematic review. Nutrients. 2017; 9(3):204. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9030204
A 2019 meta-analysis of randomized trials by Zhang et al showed similar findings, concluding proper control of carbohydrate intake provides beneficial effects on some aspects of PCOS and may represent one of the important interventions improving the clinical symptoms of affected patients.
Zhang X, Zheng Y, Guo Y, Lai Z. The effect of low carbohydrate diet on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Int J Endocrinol. 2019;2019. doi:10.1155/2019/4386401
In a 2020 study, Antonio Paoli studied14 women with PCOS who followed a ketogenic Mediterranean diet for 12 weeks. By the end of the study, they achieved lower blood glucose and insulin levels, improvements in reproductive hormone levels and function, reduction of heart disease risk factors, and an average weight loss of nearly 10 kg). The LH/FSH ratio, LH total and free testosterone, and DHEAS blood levels were also significantly reduced.
Paoli A, Mancin L, Giacona MC, Bianco A, Caprio M. Effects of a ketogenic diet in overweight women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Journal of Translational Medicine. 2020;18(1):104. doi:10.1186/s12967-020-02277-0
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