womens health

How the Ketogenic Diet Can Help Women with PCOS Manage Symptoms

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age. It affects about 10% of women worldwide and can cause irregular periods, weight gain, acne, hair loss, and infertility. While there is no cure for PCOS, research has shown that following a ketogenic diet may help manage some of its symptoms.

What is the Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that aims to put your body into ketosis – a metabolic state in which your body burns fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. The standard ketogenic diet typically consists of 70-80% fat, 20-25% protein, and 5-10% carbohydrates.

How Does the Ketogenic Diet Affect PCOS?

Research has shown that following a ketogenic diet may help improve insulin sensitivity – one of the underlying causes of PCOS. Insulin resistance occurs when cells in your body become resistant to insulin’s effects on blood sugar regulation. This leads to higher levels of insulin in your bloodstream and contributes to weight gain and other symptoms associated with PCOS.

A study published in Nutrition & Metabolism found that women with PCOS who followed a low-carbohydrate/high-protein diet similar to the ketogenic diet experienced significant improvements in insulin sensitivity compared to those who followed a traditional low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet.

In addition to improving insulin sensitivity, following a ketogenic diet may also lead to weight loss – another important factor for managing PCOS symptoms. A study published in Obesity Reviews found that overweight or obese women with PCOS who followed a very-low-calorie-ketogenic-diet lost significantly more weight than those who followed other diets such as low-fat or Mediterranean diets.

Other potential benefits of following a ketogenic diet include reducing inflammation and improving hormone balance – both important factors for managing PCOS symptoms.

Is the Ketogenic Diet Safe for Women with PCOS?

While the ketogenic diet is generally considered safe for most people, it may not be suitable for everyone. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid following a ketogenic diet due to potential risks to their baby’s health. Additionally, those with certain medical conditions such as liver disease or pancreatic insufficiency should consult with a healthcare professional before starting a ketogenic diet.

It’s also important to note that following a ketogenic diet can be challenging and requires careful planning and monitoring of macronutrient intake. It’s recommended that women with PCOS work with a registered dietician or healthcare professional to ensure they’re meeting their nutritional needs while following this type of diet.

Future Advances in Managing PCOS Symptoms

While research on the ketogenic diet and its effects on PCOS is promising, there are still many unanswered questions about how best to manage this complex condition. In recent years, researchers have been exploring other dietary interventions such as intermittent fasting and low-glycemic-index diets as potential ways to improve insulin sensitivity and manage PCOS symptoms.

In addition to dietary interventions, researchers are also investigating other treatment options such as medications that target specific hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS – including insulin resistance and high levels of male hormones like testosterone.

As our understanding of PCOS continues to evolve, it’s likely that we’ll see new advances in both prevention and treatment strategies for this common condition affecting millions of women worldwide.


1) Kavakiotis I et al., “A review of machine learning methods in polycystic ovary syndrome,” BMC Med Inform Decis Mak 2019;19(1):51.

2) Paoli A et al., “Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets,” Eur J Clin Nutr 2013;67(8):789-796.

3) Gower BA et al., “A low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet improves weight loss and blood lipid profiles in women with polycystic ovary syndrome,” J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2005;90(8):4592-4597.

4) Moran LJ et al., “The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus,” Nutr Diabetes 2010;e36.

*Note: this site does not provide medical opinions or diagnosis and should not be relied upon instead of receiving medical attention from a licensed medical professional.

author avatar
1WH staff