If you’ve searched online for trending diets, you must’ve seen keto diet on top of every list. So many celebrities have followed this and have vouched for its beneficial effects. But is keto diet for PCOS a good way to manage your symptoms?
What is keto diet?
Keto diet is a no or a very low carbohydrate diet – which means you primarily rely on protein and fats as your primary source of energy. Carbohydrates are essential macronutrients that form an important part of a balanced diet. They are primary energy sources for our body and are found in many foods such as rice, potatoes, wheat flour, breads, among others. The primary aim of following a keto diet is to lose weight – and it does so by not providing your body with carbohydrates, which in turn forces you to utilise the fat reserves for energy. As a result, your body burns fats present in your body for energy instead of burning carbohydrates from your diet. When the body burns fat as a source of energy, it yields a by-product called ketones, and that’s where the name keto diet comes from!
As opposed to fats receiving the bad press, the keto diet involves eating healthy fats instead of carbohydrates to help with weight loss. Healthy fats are found in many sources such as olive oil, fatty fish, avocado and nuts and seeds. Keto diet also promotes intake of protein such as in the form of eggs, lean meat, tofu and soybeans. The only sources of carbohydrates that can be consumed are vegetables and fruits that have low sugar content.
Does following keto diet help with PCOS?
Although the research is still inconclusive, and there are only limited research papers that have studied the effects of keto diet on PCOS symptoms – some papers do suggest that keto diet can help in improving PCOS symptoms. Keto diet may help improve PCOS symptoms such as
- Aid in weight loss
- Reduce insulin resistance
- Improve total cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Reduce belly fat
As stated before, the research was done on a very small number of people, and more studies need to be performed before keto diet can be recommended to PCOS patients.
Is the Keto diet worth trying for PCOS?
Apart from the health benefits of a diet, a successful diet should be easy to follow and sustainable in the long run. Sometimes, diets can be shown to be effective in research studies and on paper, but they might not have the same effectiveness on a daily basis, especially since following a good diet is a way of life. According to many experts, keto is an example of a restrictive diet.
Those who have tried keto in the past have frequently described how unsustainable it can be. Our regular diets, especially the Indian palette, is rich in carbohydrates in the form of rice, potatoes or whole grains. So completely cutting out carbs from your diet is never a good idea.
The downsides of following keto diet
Most experts recommend that a diet should firstly be sustainable because well – what is the point of following a diet, if you cannot see yourself following it for a long time? Once you stop following such restrictive diets, you will only see your symptoms come back and sometimes it can be worse than it was previously. A good diet is one the one that can seamlessly integrate into your daily life.
In fact, it can be especially difficult to follow a keto diet in India, because most Indian households don’t use avocado or olive oil in their regular cooking. Carbs are a staple food item in most Indian households. Additionally, a big population of Indians prefer a vegetarian diet and following keto diet can significantly reduce food options for such people as it focuses on including various options of lean meats for fats and proteins.
Instead of cutting out an entire food group to see results, it is recommended to follow a balanced diet which contains all the food groups i.e. carbs, protein, healthy fats and dietary fibre, in appropriate portions that will help you keep your hormones in check and ultimately improve your symptoms.
So if you are deciding whether to try keto, consider all the downsides first. And before you start any new diet, speak to your doctor first to understand how that could affect your treatment journey. Following a restrictive diet like keto might help you lose weight, and may have an improvement your PCOS symptoms to some extent, but at the same time, it is very unsustainable, difficult to follow, and expensive in the long run. Check out how to treat PCOS with diet here.
PCOS diet is all about sustainability. Eating a healthy, balanced diet that is rich in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, good sources of protein and healthy fats can not only make your diet enjoyable but also keep it sustainable in the long run.