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I have PCOS – do I need to cut carbs from my diet?

We’ve been chatting quite a lot about women’s health just recently and it seems that you guys get plenty of benefit from that. Over here all I want to do is to provide value, so let’s chat PCOS and nutrition.


If you are unsure of the basics around PCOS including what it actually is then there’s a blog in the archives for that – just take a look back.


One of the things that you will find when searching out about how to manage your nutrition with PCOS is the recommendation to cut or significantly reduce your carbohydrate intake. This can seem super difficult, especially as anecdotally women living with PCOS tend to report higher carbohydrate cravings. Where’s the justice?! Now I know that I chat time and time again about having everything that we would like in our nutrition within moderation and the same, of course, still applies but I wanted to have a little gander at what the research is saying.


It's also worth saying early that ‘carbs’ does not only mean pasta and bagels – veggies, amongst other things given a health halo, are also considered to be carbohydrates! Spoiler - I’m never going to condone cutting those out that’s for sure.


We know and have spoken previously on blogs over here about one of the main issues with PCOS is in reducing our insulin resistance which can lead to lower blood sugar levels which is where these recommendations around reduction of carbohydrate intake come from.


There is some research to suggest that women with PCOS on lower carbohydrate diets have seen some improvements in their health markers like their cholesterol and insulin levels, ‘healthier’ bodyweights and lower testosterone but it is important to say that the women within the research did not cut carbohydrates all together and in fact only reduced them from the general population daily recommended allowance a really small amount. This simply reinforces that we do not need to abstain from entire food groups to be healthier – PCOS or not.


All foods can be placed on what we call the glycaemic index which essentially looks at how food affects our blood sugar or blood glucose levels – the low GI foods have a smaller effect on our blood sugar.


There is evidence to show, in women with PCOS, that switching some higher GI foods in our nutrition to lower GI options might help to regulate our hormones and our periods, a very common issue in those that I have seen with PCOS. So, when we chatted earlier about veggies being carbs as well as things like pasta and bread and the like, they are all carbohydrates, just simply with different GI measurements. A fairly solid recommendation for most people in general but including those with PCOS for this reason, might be to have a go at switching out the white, starchy carbohydrate sources in your diet to wholegrain options and those carbohydrate options containing lots of fibre – think things like beans, veggies and wholegrain oats. You might just see an improvement in symptoms for very little cost in terms of still being able to enjoy all of the things that you love.


I hope that this short post has gone some way to reassuring you that you certainly do not need to cut carbohydrates from your nutrition altogether despite what the internet might tell you – PCOS or not. Cutting food groups out of our nutrition can lead to poor relationships with food – is it really worth it? To create unhelpful eating patterns that we take through our lives for years to come? Believe me, I’ll tell you from experience, it isn’t. If you enjoy some carbohydrates, which I’d be surprised if we don’t enjoy some form of carbs (veggies included!!) then we can work to include a little bit of all things that we enjoy into our nutrition in a healthy and moderated way. There may be some things that we can tweak to support those living with PCOS manage their symptoms but that isn’t cutting carbohydrates altogether.


If you need some support with some potential tweaks and changes that might just help you to manage life and your goals that little bit more seamlessly, I’d love to hear from you.


Peace and love for now, A x

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