This post was inspired today by an Instagram follower who asked about the relationship between PCOS and a ketogenic diet. Basically, she wanted to know if keto was good for helping your body deal with PCOS.
The short answer, is yes, but I’ll explain why below. ;)
Wait, what exactly is PCOS?
PCOS is a hormonal disorder where a woman’s body is making too many androgens (hormones, including testosterone), causing symptoms like ovary malfunction, irregular periods, weight gain, difficulty losing weight, male hair patterns, acne and more.
PCOS seems to be caused by insulin resistance (isn’t everything?), and has been linked with diabetes and other metabolic disorders.
PCOS and a Ketogenic Diet
Causes of PCOS include excess insulin and low grade inflammation, and if you’ve been on a ketogenic diet, or at least have explored it for a little bit, you may already know that a reduction in insulin levels and inflammation just happen to be two of the benefits of eating this way! Granted, this is certainly not a cure, but a reduction in symptoms of PCOS is a pretty exciting idea (imagine, ladies, more regular menstrual cycles, fewer cysts, weight loss, less general awfulness!).
So, what do I eat on keto if I have PCOS?
Basically, you can eat the same kind of things as someone without PCOS on a ketogenic diet (with some minor tweaks)! With this condition, you’ll want to focus on the quality of foods a little more. Your body is already stressed enough, and highly insulin resistant, so keeping yourself strict is important.
Diet & Lifestyle Notes:
- Those with PCOS will want to avoid dairy (at least for a little bit), as this increases inflammation and androgens (the hormones responsible for many PCOS symptoms)
- increase your omega-3 fatty acid consumption to decrease inflammation and balance hormones!
- increase your consumption of zinc- zinc deficiency is linked to higher androgen levels and acne
- reduce exposure to BPA and other endocrine disruptors by switching to natural cleaning products, makeup and body care
- choose high-quality, pasture-raised antibiotic and hormone-free meats
- make sure you’re getting enough fiber – excess estrogen can exacerbate your symptoms and eating fiber actually helps to clear out excess estrogen from your system – aim for 25g per day
- nuts & seeds (pumpkin seeds are especially high in zinc)
- wild-caught, cold water fish (like salmon, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids!)
- coconut (butter/manna, oil & whole fruit!)
- pastured meats
- eggs from cage-free, pastured hens
- nuts & seeds also have some protein (remember those pumpkin seeds!)
- organic soy (studies have shown that the phytoestrogens in soy may help diminish PCOS symptoms)
- In absolute moderation (a few times a week)
- choose berries (which are lower in sugar) over other fruits
- the more fiber and less sugar, the better!
- go wild with leafy and crunchy veggies
- minimize or eliminate starchy veggies (like potatoes & sweet potatoes)
- dark, leafy greens have the most nutritional bang with minimal carbs
- broccoli, cauliflower, kale and other cruciferous vegetables are supportive of liver function, and the liver helps to clear out excess estrogen!
- list of keto-friendly veggies