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Timing Your Meals Helps with PCOS

Food and fertility

a blog by Marta Montenegro, April 2, 2014

To many women’s surprise, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) – a health condition in which sex hormones are out of balance, disrupting normal menstrual cycles, increasing infertility risks, and disturbing insulin and blood glucose patterns – does not discriminate over how much you weigh. Although PCOS is most common in women who are overweight or obese, you can still suffer from PCOS when at a healthy weight.

One of the most common problems with PCOS is insulin resistance, a condition in which your body is unable to use insulin properly, putting glucose levels out of whack. Insulin and glucose are affected by overall caloric intake and the food you eat – white carbohydrates rapidly spike glucose levels, fiber-rich whole grain carbohydrates slow down the glucose response. Yet, a recent study shows meal time and distribution also play an important role in controlling insulin resistance for women with PCOS.

A total of 60 lean women with PCOS were given the same daily caloric intake – around 1800 – but the caloric intake and distribution for each meal varied. For example, the Breakfast Diet had most calories consumed in the morning – 980 at breakfast, 640 at lunch and 190 at dinner. For the Dinner Diet, most calories were consumed in the evening – 190 at breakfast, 640 for lunch, and 980 for dinner. The research, published in Clinical Science, showed that only the Breakfast Diet was able to provide significant fertility-related benefits, such as:

  1. Decreased free testosterone by 50%
  2. Increased sex hormone-binding globulin by 105% – an important protein in controlling testosterone and estrogen that decreases when high testosterone and insulin are present
  3. Increased ovulation rate

The researchers attributed the results to improved insulin sensitivity and to a reduced enzyme that affects the sex hormones, particularly testosterone, which is produced in excess when you have PCOS. So watch what you eat — and when.


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