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Intermittent Fasting & PCOS: Can Fasting Help With PCOS?

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What Is PCOS | Relation Between Intermittent Fasting And PCOS | Is Intermittent Fasting Good For PCOS

Intermittent Fasting & PCOS: Can Fasting Help With PCOS? Let’s dive in! PCOS is one of the most common hormonal disorders seen in women aged 15-44 years. People who suffer from PCOS might experience rapid weight gain and an inability to lose weight. Being overweight or obese while having polycystic ovaries can worsen the condition over time. That is why doctors always advise patients to lose weight and stay active, which helps regulate hormone levels.

Intermittent fasting has shown promising results when it comes to weight loss. It has also become a popular method of managing weight and many other PCOS symptoms in recent years. However, there is still a debate on whether intermittent fasting is good for PCOS or not. This article will look at what researchers have said and find the connection between PCOS and intermittent fasting.

intermittent fasting and PCOS
Concept polycystic ovary syndrome, PCOS. Paper art, awareness of PCOS, image of the female reproductive system, copy space for text

What Is PCOS?

PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome is a prevalent endocrine disorder. PCOS affects women all around the world. It mainly involves the hormone levels, and females suffering from PCOS will produce more androgen than needed, creating hormonal imbalances.

PCOS is also related to weight gain in women and other symptoms such as delayed/missed menstrual cycle, irregular periods, unusual hair growth on the face and the body, pigmentation in various areas of the body, female patterned baldness, hair loss, and much more. If not treated in the long term, PCOS can also lead to chronic heart disease and diabetes. 

PCOS is a syndrome that means that the person suffering from it will show a group of symptoms. The diagnosis of PCOS is difficult as there are no definitive clinical symptoms. However, people who have PCOS may have two of the following three symptoms:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • High levels of androgen in blood and hair growth on the face, belly, chest, and upper thigh
  • Presence of cysts in one or both ovaries

Apart from this, many other symptoms such as body weight gain and the inability to lose weight are also pretty standard. Leading an active lifestyle and following a good diet plan is very important for people with PCOS, and intermittent fasting is believed to show results in women with PCOS.

Many women suffering from PCOS also have Insulin Resistance as one of the symptoms. Hence, there is a chance to develop conditions such as diabetes. Also, insulin resistance increases the risk of rapid weight gain in women.

Intermittent Fasting & PCOS

Relation Between Intermittent Fasting And PCOS

The relation between intermittent fasting and PCOS is not direct. Intermittent fasting helps in dealing with specific symptoms of PCOS. There is a lack of research in terms of intermittent fasting for PCOS. Hence, we will work with the other considerations and factors we already know.

1. Intermittent Fasting Helps With Regulation of Insulin and Improving Insulin Sensitivity

Studies have shown an increase in insulin resistance in women with PCOS, and most doctors also prescribe medicine to improve insulin sensitivity to women suffering from PCOS. Ovaries in women suffering from PCOS can get sensitive to insulin. The ovaries are responsible for testosterone production, and sensitive ovaries release more testosterone. This can promote ovarian function.

Some research clearly shows that intermittent fasting significantly impacts insulin sensitivity. People with elevated insulin levels have benefited from intermittent fasting and maintaining blood sugar levels. Hence intermittent fasting dramatically helps in reducing the insulin levels in the body and, in turn, causes lower testosterone levels. This can help manage visible symptoms of PCOS, such as facial hair growth. Testosterone is also linked to weight gain in women, and hence lower testosterone levels can aid in weight loss in women with PCOS.

2. General Reduction in Energy Consumption with Intermittent Fasting can Help Lose Weight

Intermittent fasting forces a person to consume food only during the eating window, and hence the overall energy consumption goes down considerably. Intermittent fasting, if done correctly, can reduce your energy consumption that happens due to binge eating or mindlessly eating throughout the day. This will automatically help in the reduction of weight. 

In addition to this, if you practice 16/8 intermittent fasting, then after the body has utilized the energy from the food you had consumed, it starts looking for alternative sources, thereby improving your fat metabolism. This way, you will also be burning fat faster with PCOS intermittent fasting.

3. Reduction in Blood Cholesterol

Elevated cholesterol levels are another problem seen in women suffering from PCOS. Increased cholesterol levels are the reason for cardiovascular disease such as coronary artery disease and much more. Intermittent fasting can help in improving cholesterol levels in the body and hence helps people with PCOS.

4. Reduction in Inflammation

Inflammation is commonly found in women with PCOS. This leads to high levels of markers of inflammation such as inflammatory cytokines, oxidative stress, and the number of monocytes and lymphocytes. This is why people often feel achy and uncomfortable on most days. Inflammation is also one of the reasons for the body to become sensitive to insulin. Intermittent fasting shows a reduction in inflammation in the body.

To know about all the health benefits of intermittent fasting, read – 8 Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting: A Complete List

Intermittent Fasting and PCOS

So, Is Intermittent Fasting Good For PCOS?

Overall, yes, intermittent fasting & PCOS can help. Although there is no direct link between PCOS and intermittent fasting, following this fast does help deal with various symptoms of PCOS.

The Right Way of Intermittent Fasting & PCOS

Since we have established that intermittent fasting is helpful for people suffering from PCOS, this does not mean that you will get results for sure. Also, intermittent fasting is not suitable for everyone. 

So, before we tell you how one can practice intermittent fasting to reverse PCOS, here is a list of people who should not try intermittent fasting without consulting their doctor.

  • Pregnant women– Fasting is not healthy for pregnant women. Hence you should stick to a healthy eating pattern and light exercises.
  • People who are on medication– Certain medications would require you to eat food at a particular time, in the morning and the evening. In such cases, do not fast or try any type of intermittent fasting without consulting your doctor.
  • Suffering or having a history of eating disorders– People with eating disorders can spiral back into eating too few calories when fasting. Hence, it is better to consult your doctor before starting to fast in such cases. People with depression, anxiety, or other psychological disorders should also take their doctor’s opinion before starting the fast.
  • Underweight women- Women who are already underweight should avoid restricting their calories. For skinny people, it is imperative to be very careful with fasting since they might end up eating much less than their required daily allowance.

After considering all the above factors, if you feel you can begin your intermittent fasting journey, you should keep the following things in mind:

  • Intermittent fasting PCOS diet will only be effective if you eat a calorie-restricted diet and also eat healthy foods. If you fast and eat all the junk food during your eating window, you will not see any positive effects. Instead, you might end up gaining more weight.
  • Set your fasting period as per your requirement and your body’s natural circadian rhythm. If you feel starving in the morning, say at 8 am, try to eat your last meal by 4 pm and not eat anything until 8 in the morning. If you are someone who has to eat dinner, then skip out on your breakfast and make lunch your first meal. There is no set timing for fasting. 
  • If you suffer from insulin resistance, eating big meals can be detrimental for you; make sure to eat multiple small meals in your eating window. Also, if you cannot eat enough calories in the 8-hour window, you can go with the 14/10 or 12/12 intermittent fasting methods. A fast for 12 hours can also give you all the benefits of intermittent fasting.
  • Cover most of your fasting hours while sleeping. You will spend 8 hours sleeping. Eat two hours before going to bed, and then you can cover the rest of the time in the morning. 

If you are a beginner and want to know more about fasting, read A Complete Guide To Intermittent Fasting + Daily Plan & Schedule.

To Sum Up – PCOS and Intermittent Fasting – can it help?

Intermittent Fasting & PCOS – Can Fasting Help With PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)? The answer to this is pretty subjective. How you practice intermittent fasting and the kind of PCOS symptoms you have determine what benefits you get from intermittent fasting. However, in the majority of the cases, fasting has shown positive results for PCOS patients by reducing their insulin levels and aiding in weight loss. To best help your situation, maintain a healthy weight as best you can, practice calorie restriction during certain times, and make certain lifestyle changes to promote metabolic health.

Remember, when starting periods of fasting, your feeding period should include healthy fats, lean proteins, organic and whole food intake, and fruits and vegetables, this is the best diet to follow for a healthy diet. There are lots of ways you can select your hours of fasting, most go with an 8-hour window of time for feeding, and 16 hours of fasting, but there are lots of options, such as alternate-day fasting, 14/10 fasting and much more! Also consult with healthcare professionals before starting any fasting program. Do not start fasting if you have an eating disorder.

Check out this article – Intermittent Fasting for Women over 50

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