Let's Talk about Carbohydrates and PCOS
"Are carbs the enemy?"
"Should you eat carbs?"
"Is Low-Carb or Carb-Free the right diet/option?"
"Should you eat carbs when you have PCOS?"
All these questions go through our mind at one point in our life. It might be because we want to lose weight, carbs may make you feel bloated or they do not agree with your stomach. It may be that you have PCOS or any other illness. Or it may be that someone told you that carbs are the enemy and that they make you fat, so you decided to follow their advice.
I have pondered all these questions many times and have gone through low carb dieting to see if this would help with my PCOS and weight loss. However, carbs are not the enemy.
Why Do we Need Carbohydrates?
Carbs are just another food source, another nutrient required for a balanced lifestyle. Carbohydrates should not be feared or banished from our diet. All macronutrients have their purpose and benefits in our diet.
Carbs and full glycogen stores benefits
- It is our bodies first source of energy.
- Gives you fast/quick energy (simple sugars)
- Lower cortisol
- Increased metabolic rate
- Improved sleep
- Necessary for a balanced lifestyle, restriction leads to an unhealthy relationship with food.
- Whole grains are sources of fiber, B Vitamins, protein
Should you eat carbs if you have PCOS?
My personal answer is yes, after reading various articles, listening to people's experience and also learning from my struggle too. I believe everybody should eat carbohydrates and avoid cutting them out completely or going way too low on them.
Health researcher Matt Stone has discussed this topic, and he states that reducing or eliminating your carb/sugar intake to manage insulin resistance may feel like you are treating it, however, you still have not healed it by getting to the root cause.
Cutting out carbs will cause a whole host of other problems such as; mood disorders, constipation, adrenal fatigue, mineral imbalances, leg cramps.
Although, research has indicated that reducing dietary carbohydrate to a moderate level can help reduce both insulin and testosterone. Reducing the number of processed carbs can have great benefits for women with PCOS.
Carbs, as well as fat, are necessary for your hormones. Reducing your carb intake too low or eliminating carbohydrates from your diet is not good for your thyroid. It is vital for women especially that we eat carbohydrates for our fertility/menstrual health.
Your hypothalamus loves carbs/glucose; it is one of the key regulators of your hormones and it signals to your brain and ovaries that you are being fed. The hypothalamus produces the Thyrotropin-Releasing Hormone; a low Thyrotropin-Releasing Hormone is the cause of irregular menstrual cycles.
There is nothing wrong with being wary about what carbs you eat if you have PCOS or not. However, since the true cause of PCOS is unknown and a vast array of people have balanced their hormones and managed their PCOS symptoms through following a normal diet, which means eating carbs, it is important not to restrict any food groups. Unless you are fully certain that food group is causing your problems with your health.
Better carb options for PCOS:
Most of your carbohydrate intake should come from non-starchy carbohydrates/vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables include; okra, broccoli, zucchini, egglpant, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts.
Quinoa- fiber, magnesium, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various antioxidants.
Bulgar wheat~ High fiber, Iron, Potassium, Zinc and Niacin (vitamin B3)
Sweet Potatoes~ Vitamin B6, Potassium, copper, Vitamin C, manganese, phosphorous, fiber, Vitamin B3 and pantothenic acid.
Beans~ Vitamin B, Iron, magnesium, phosphate, manganese, calcium, copper, zinc and potassium, Polyunsaturated fat and no cholesterol.
Lentils~ molybdenum, folate, fiber, copper, phosphorus, manganese, iron, protein, Vitamin B1, pantothenic acid, zinc, Vitamin B6, potassium.
When it comes to bread, rice and pasta, choose brown. Whole grains are better sources of carbs due their slow release of energy which in turn not spike insulin.
Between 100-200 g/day. It is recommended at least 100 g/day and not lower than 50 g/day.
Most of all, it is important to remember that we are not all the same, what worked for one person may not work for you. Therefore, the best option is to follow a balanced and healthy lifestyle, to ensure both physical and mental health.
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