PCOS and Intermittent Fasting | Is it Safe for PCOS?
In short, we do not recommend Intermittent Fasting for long term PCOS symptom relief. If you have PCOS, it is very important to consume multiple small meals throughout the day. This approach will allow your insulin levels to self-regulate and remain balanced. If you are intermittent fasting, your large meals cause Hyperinsulinemia (excess insulin in the blood). Hyperinsulinemia increases androgen production, increasing the clinical effects of PCOS!
Different forms of fasting, such as intermittent fasting (IF, including alternate-day fasting, or twice weekly fasting, for example) and periodic fasting (PF, lasting several days or longer every 2 or more weeks) are currently being tested in several in vitro and in vivo studies. Changes in the circulating levels of Insulin Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1), Insulin-like Growth Factor-Binding Protein 1 (IGFBP1), glucose, and insulin are typical effects of fasting which may play a key role in aging and metabolic homeostasis. Considering the paramount importance of InsR and compensatory hyperinsulinemia, different fasting regimens can reduce IGF-1, IGFBP1, glucose, and insulin levels and consequently have beneficial effects on ovarian function, androgen excess, and infertility in PCOS women.
How can intermittent fasting help?
Intermittent fasting, or taking a break from eating for periods of time, has been shown to help with symptoms of PCOS. This pattern of eating reduces inflammation, ameliorates glucose and insulin levels, and leads to a broad improvement of androgen levels and ovarian function (with possible beneficial effects on infertility). It has also been speculated that fasting could ameliorate the impact of male hormone excess on the human body by limiting the excess of insulin, which is partially responsible for the abnormal release of androgens. Changes in glucose and insulin blood levels are a few benefits of intermittent fasting that lead to a balanced metabolism. With normal insulin and glucose levels, you can expect to see weight loss or, at least, no weight gain. And with a decrease in male hormones, you should see reductions in facial hair and skin improvements. To get started, we recommend 12-hour overnight fasts, adding 1-hour increments every 5 days or so. 16-hour fasts have been shown to reduce markers of inflammation and cellular damage in women with PCOS, but the number of hours you fast depends on how much weight you want to lose and your goals. Intermittent fasting is flexible and can be adopted regardless of your lifestyle.
Avoid Intermittent Fasting altogether if you have higher caloric needs
- You will most likely notice your stomach is grumbling during fasting periods, primarily if you are used to constant grazing throughout the day. To avoid these hunger pains during fasting periods, avoid looking at, smelling, or even thinking about food, which can trigger the release of gastric acid into your stomach and make you feel hungry.
- Non-fasting days are not days when you can splurge on whatever you want as this can lead to weight gain. Fasting may also lead to an increase in the stress hormone, cortisol, which may lead to even more food cravings. Keep in mind that overeating and binge eating are two common side effects of intermittent fasting.
- Intermittent fasting is sometimes associated with dehydration because when you do not eat, sometimes you forget to drink, so it is essential to actively stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking, on average, three liters of water.
- You will most likely feel tired because your body is running on less energy than usual, and since fasting can boost stress levels, it can also disrupt your sleep patterns. Therefore it is crucial to adopt a healthy, regular sleep pattern and stick to it so you can feel rested on an everyday basis.
- The same biochemistry that regulates mood also regulates appetite with nutrient consumption affecting the activity of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which play a role in anxiety and depression.
- That means deregulating your appetite may do the same to your mood and therefore you will most likely feel irritable on occasions when you are fasting.
- The last piece of advice for individuals who are interested in an intermittent fasting diet it limits your alcohol intake only during eating periods. Do not drink alcohol during or immediately after fasting and even if you drink during your eating periods, keep in mind that drinking alcohol means that you are displacing your opportunity for adequate nutrition.
Intermittent fasting seems to be the new trend swirling among society. Intermittent fasting is a predetermined period that an individual purposely doesn’t eat food. There are many different kinds of fasting techniques, just like there are many kinds of diets.
However, most of the studies done on this topic have been performed on animals over a short period and have measured glucose levels rather than long-term health outcomes. Many argue that intermittent fasting is not necessarily dangerous, but many also agree that intermittent fasting is not safe for everyone. So yes, it is possible to lose calories, fat and weight from this popular diet however it is also possible to just as quickly gain the weight back, develop low energy stores which can result in a depressed mood, problems sleeping and even organ damage if the fasting is extreme.
Keywords: Diet, Fasting, Insulin Resistance, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Fasting, Fertility, Hormonal Imbalance, Intermittent Fasting, Ovulation, PCOS, PCOS Awareness, Polycystic Ovaries, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Reproduction, Women’s Health