Paleo and treating PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome)

by 318 · February 15, 2014 at 04:20 AM

Hello all,

My name is Nick and I am a personal trainer based in London. I have a question for you all regarding a client of mine that has Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

(For those of you who are just reading but don’t know PCOS is this… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polycystic_ovary_syndrome)

She came to me with 3 goals in mind. 1) Get off Metformin - her diabetic drug (done) 2) Have regular periods again and increase fertility (getting there) 3) Lose weight (Frustrating as hell)

I've implemented a lower carb version of the Paleo diet with her that I am monitoring with a photo food diary once per week (so low she cant take metformin) and have managed to restore much of her insulin sensitivity and menstrual cycle but weight loss is still really stubborn.

I was wondering if there are any good blog posts out there or if someone here can offer me some advice on how to deal with this situation. Is it the case that people with PCOS need to be nigh on Ketogenic to see fat loss? How else can I help this person?

I am looking for very prescriptive information as a "Paleo diet" can obviously mean a great number of things.

Thanks for your assistance as always.

Nick Kinsella

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8 Replies

11648 · April 30, 2012 at 09:17 AM

The following is not a medical advice, just what I personally do for my similar problems:

If she is doing everything right and she still doesn't lose weight, I'd check the thyroid. Also, for some women especially, if the estrogen levels are too high (and usually if you have PCOS, you have high estrogen), a reduction in calories might be needed, not just reduction of carbs. For me, who I'm small framed, if I eat more than 1200 calories per day, I don't lose a gram.

Regarding a Paleo-ketogenic diet (not plain keto), I think it will help lots. I have a few gynecological pains myself that are going away when on less than 40 gr of carbs per day for over a month (25-50 gr of carbs per day is the goal I keep). I also take a grapeseed/pomegranate/trans-reservator extract, and a curcumin extract, that helps with inflammation in these body parts (and they also lower estrogen).

And of course, it's not just what you remove from the diet, but also what you add: bone marrow broth, offal, coconut oil (very important in the keto diet), sea vegetables, live sauerkraut, and home-made goat kefir. If your patient doesn't go out much either, she should consider supplementing with 5000 IU D3 almost daily (which also lowers estrogen btw, among other major things it offers). These are not optional in my opinion. It's what I do to myself to get healthy from similar ailments. My superfoods: http://eugenia.queru.com/2012/03/05/top-10-must-eat-paleo-foods/

Regarding fertility btw, no matter what you might hear about dairy in Paleo sites, home-made GOAT kefir (24-36 hour fermentation, which means very little lactose, and different casein than that of the offending cow dairy), is the top "drug" you need: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=real-males-eat-yogurt Kefir is 5-10 times more potent than yogurt, so as long as your patient AND her husband eat kefir, I'd expect good baby results. But it MUST be home-made (store-bought kefir doesn't contain all the needed yeasts and bacteria because of bottling regulations). More info about kefir: http://eugenia.queru.com/2012/04/19/a-word-about-kefir/

If she's trying to get pregnant (and if her doctor is ok with this, don't take this reply as a medical advice), she might need to supplement with folate (not folic acid, they're different) a few times a week too, about 3-6 months before she conceives. Especially if she goes low calorie Paleo-keto, where folate becomes less common in the food. http://chriskresser.com/folate-vs-folic-acid

I'd highly suggest she keeps a food blog, like on fitday or on Chronometer.com, to see which vitamins she's missing. Then she could supplement accordingly (but not overdo it of course, D3 and Mg are the most important ones).

5888 · April 30, 2012 at 12:01 PM

You might find some useful info on Pepper's websites:



3990 · May 13, 2012 at 08:41 AM

Many women with PCOS need not only to watch their carb intake, but their fat/calorie intake as well.

10 · September 02, 2013 at 02:19 AM

I would lose weight and gain it right back even on Metformin. I have PCOS, Insulin resistance. I knew something else was wrong - hypothyroid. Go to an endocrinologist to get this checked. With the natural supplements and eating right and exercising all together, the weight is under control.

435 · August 23, 2012 at 04:52 PM

What has been working for me is very low carb, moderate protein and high fat.

There have also been other helpful tweaks; giving up dairy helped, as did adding coconut oil. Now that I have lost much of the weight, I do ok with adding an ounce of almonds and a cup of berries daily.

144 · September 02, 2013 at 09:48 AM

Stephanie Ruper 'Paleo for Women' is all about women and hormones and POCs. She recommends a higher carb version of paleo for women with POCs to balance out their hormones. As a POCs sufferer myself, I've got my weight down to 59kg and 24% body fat. Always used to sit around 27% bodyfat with chubby (but not fat) weight of around 63kgs before changing to higher carb version of paleo. I felt really agitated and stressd when I tried to go low carb. I have roughly 80g-100g starchy carbs a day. Still low compared to the typical SAD diet.

0 · August 23, 2012 at 03:20 PM

You might want to talk to primalgirl.com she seems to have figured it out.

122 · July 24, 2012 at 08:58 PM

I have PCOS and was on metformin until recently. I had issues with metformin in that it made me crave carbohydrates and made animal protein unappealing. I also had to be prescribed waterpills. It was kind of a mess. I was prescribed the metformin to increase my insulin sensitivity, but I have decided to stop taking it and manage it through Paleo and Crossfit. This seems to be working well for me, albeit very slowly. If she drops the weight, the disorder does reverse, but therein lies the problem. She will have to increase her activity. I'm not saying she has to up her sessions to everyday, but doing stuff like walking a couple miles outside more than once a day, or more time working in the yard in addition to regular workouts.

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