1

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Talk to me about PCOS and Paleo.

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 21, 2013 at 4:04 PM

I am a 29 year old female, 100lbs overweight, PCOS with insulin resistance and high free testosterone (taking Metformin and Spironolactone - ugh), severe gluten intolerance (negative celiac genetic test but plenty of gut damage confirmed by an endoscopy/colonoscopy), GERD and Fibromyalgia. I have a history of hypothyroidism as well, but this hasn't been a problem in several years acc. to blood tests. I'd like to lose weight and get my immune system/gut back in good shape.

The more I read PaleoHacks, the more I am confused about what I should be shooting for with my diet. I feel like I'm getting mixed signals from my body (GI/stool issues) and don't know what may be temporary re-adjustments or signs I should be adding more carbs. I did 60 days of no legumes, grains or dairy in May/June of last year and felt good. Did more of an 80-20 thing, still focused on good fats and always gluten free since then. After a vacation where I ate more of an SAD for a month (and got glutened a few times), I've renewed my commitment to paleo and cut out grains two weeks ago. I never really went back to legumes as they seem to really irritate me. I haven't gone back to the amount of dairy I was eating before Paleo, but probably have it two days out of the week now - hard cheese, sour cream/mexican crema 2x each this week. I do use grass fed butter for cooking as well.

How many carbs should I be eating? Which sources should I be using for carbs? Fruit? Or just root veggies - white/sweet potatoes/yuca? What about Non GMO corn? Am I deluding myself by thinking its okay to keep eating limited amounts of dairy? Should I be counting calories/minding my portion sizes a bit more? I feel absolutely lost.

7b9b5de13a30c823dae64a971cb14add

(540)

on September 03, 2013
at 12:54 AM

I'm about to hit the reset button again. VLC was giving me horrible stomach problems, so I was doing trial and error to find the sweet spot and got off track. Just started seeing an ND this month to get back on track since there are a few other things going on with my health - hormonal stuff that seems to go against the idea of VLC and I wanted some more personalized guidance. ND also gave me Progensa to use from ovulation on since my mood was a mess, among other reasons. Good luck!

7b9b5de13a30c823dae64a971cb14add

(540)

on January 23, 2013
at 03:26 PM

Thanks. I will check that out.

532cfd279d793e8fcc23b9f6d91dde5c

(1981)

on January 22, 2013
at 07:12 PM

Also, keep in mind that the health-benefits (as opposed to fitness-benefits) of cardio plateau after 30-40 minutes per day, and you can start to work against yourself for weight loss if you are doing more than 50 minutes per day. The Perfect Health Diet site has a collection of links to articles and studies with the details.

532cfd279d793e8fcc23b9f6d91dde5c

(1981)

on January 22, 2013
at 07:05 PM

Once a week is what I did for a long time. I pick a work day, so that I'm distracted enough not to be bothered by thoughts of food. I actually do it almost every day, now, but it took me most of a year to work up to that.

7b9b5de13a30c823dae64a971cb14add

(540)

on January 21, 2013
at 10:18 PM

Really helpful, thank you. Especially for the encouragement, which is very much needed. I might be overdoing it on the fat, after reading your thoughts. I haven't been doing resistance training. Never have actually - always tons of cardio when I do exercise. When you refer to occasional fasting - how frequently? Would you say once per week?

7b9b5de13a30c823dae64a971cb14add

(540)

on January 21, 2013
at 10:14 PM

Thanks for the encouragement and your story! Low carb diet + metformin did nothing for me previously, but that always STILL included whole wheat, brown rice, spelt etc since I was always told to eat 100 - 125g of carbs a day! Clearly my endos were not so swift... So when you refer to carb limits re: berries, how did you figure yours out/what is it? Do you calculate the carbs you get from veggies and still aim for a certain number? I want to count at least at the beginning while my head is getting re-organized. My previous understanding of low carb really doesn't apply.

532cfd279d793e8fcc23b9f6d91dde5c

(1981)

on January 21, 2013
at 05:31 PM

That was my experience, too.

3fe2bf1367970868757ddf7ed7c62531

(817)

on January 21, 2013
at 05:14 PM

I think that your point about getting to much fat should be highlighted :) I was very confused when I started paleo - thinking I should be eating veggies swimming in fat. But it was not until I stopped this that I really started to lose weiht and feel healthier.

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5 Answers

best answer

3
532cfd279d793e8fcc23b9f6d91dde5c

(1981)

on January 21, 2013
at 04:51 PM

I have been exactly where you are. I am so glad you are here.

(My qualifications: lost 140lbs on paleo, periods have normalized, acne is gone, taking no medications anymore)

Corn is a grain, even non-GMO corn. Avoid it like the plague. It comes out the other end looking the same because you didn't digest it, because it's not food.

Are you doing any resistance training? Lifting weights once a week (heavy weights, with someone teaching me proper form) made a big impact on my insulin resistance, now I lift 2-3 times a week.

I was unable to lose much fat until I cut my fruit intake way down. I have it as a treat, usually less than one serving/week, and then I usually choose raspberries or blackberries. I also found it helped to keep an eye on how much ADDED fat I was consuming. Fatty cuts of meat, yes, eggs, yes, and then add just enough butter or tallow or coconut oil to my vegetables to make them yummy, and no more. Fat is good, but you absolutely can overdo it.

Counting calories isn't something I've ever found very helpful. It just makes you feel guilty about feeling hungry.

An occasional 16-20 hour fast (overnight and then skip brekkie and eat a late lunch) will also have a positive effect on your insulin sensitivity.

I've found that my rate of fat loss stayed steadiest when I ate very-low-carb most days, and then ate higher-carb once a week or so. I've since learned that this can also improve insulin sensitivity, but I did it because it made a very-low-carb lifestyle easy to stick to, and then on my higher-carb day, I could have the potatoes or sweet potatoes or fruit that I felt like having.

3fe2bf1367970868757ddf7ed7c62531

(817)

on January 21, 2013
at 05:14 PM

I think that your point about getting to much fat should be highlighted :) I was very confused when I started paleo - thinking I should be eating veggies swimming in fat. But it was not until I stopped this that I really started to lose weiht and feel healthier.

532cfd279d793e8fcc23b9f6d91dde5c

(1981)

on January 22, 2013
at 07:05 PM

Once a week is what I did for a long time. I pick a work day, so that I'm distracted enough not to be bothered by thoughts of food. I actually do it almost every day, now, but it took me most of a year to work up to that.

532cfd279d793e8fcc23b9f6d91dde5c

(1981)

on January 21, 2013
at 05:31 PM

That was my experience, too.

7b9b5de13a30c823dae64a971cb14add

(540)

on January 21, 2013
at 10:18 PM

Really helpful, thank you. Especially for the encouragement, which is very much needed. I might be overdoing it on the fat, after reading your thoughts. I haven't been doing resistance training. Never have actually - always tons of cardio when I do exercise. When you refer to occasional fasting - how frequently? Would you say once per week?

7b9b5de13a30c823dae64a971cb14add

(540)

on January 23, 2013
at 03:26 PM

Thanks. I will check that out.

532cfd279d793e8fcc23b9f6d91dde5c

(1981)

on January 22, 2013
at 07:12 PM

Also, keep in mind that the health-benefits (as opposed to fitness-benefits) of cardio plateau after 30-40 minutes per day, and you can start to work against yourself for weight loss if you are doing more than 50 minutes per day. The Perfect Health Diet site has a collection of links to articles and studies with the details.

5
3491e51730101b18724dc57c86601173

(8395)

on January 21, 2013
at 04:50 PM

You need to understand that a lot of people who hang out here on Paleohacks are young, healthy--high percentage of males, withno celiac, no fibro, no PCOS, nowhere near 100 lbs overweight. Not everyone, of course. For example, I'm an obese, middle-aged female with PCOS, so I know not everyone's like I describe above. But that's where some of the conflict comes in.

You need to get your head straight for what's going to work for you in your unique situation. Many people here don't have these issues.

Since you are celiac, NO GRAINS. NONE. It doesn't matter if corn is GMO or not. Don't touch it. Oats either. They may have just enough non-gluten proteins to irritate your gut anyway. Try to eliminate dairy 100% too or you may continue to have damage from cross reactivity. Once your gut calms down you might try small amounts of full fat raw and/or fermented dairy. I'd start with perhaps some ghee and see how that goes.

For PCOS, there's no such thing as a "safe starch". NONE. You are highly insulin resistant and ANY starch will spike your insulin and by extension your testosterone levels, exacerbating your PCOS. No fruits, no roots. (A very small serving of berries within you car limits may be OK). Not until the weight is under control. You need a very low carb diet to reverse the symptoms. Your question about whether GMO corn is OK tells me you are not on board with that. I doubt you will see any benefit unless and until you bring those carbs down and keep them down. 80/20 just isn't going to work for you. Sorry, this is probably not what you want to hear, but it's the truth. If you can get the carbs down low enough, the cravings WILL disappear and it truly will not, be so hard.

And for the fibro and celiac, you may want to look into the GAPS diet or a paleo autoimmune protocol to heal the gut, reduce systemic inflammation, and cool down the auto immunities. Just remember to integrate that with the avoidance of too many carbs, and you cannot introduce grains, ever.

I know whereof I speak. 13 years ago (age 41!) a very enlightened endo put me on met and a low carb diet (not paleo back then). Weight literally fell off. I had my first ovulatory period EVER within one month and was pregnant 6 months later (she's 12). My testosterone levels dropped like a stone, acne disappeared. Low carb absolutely works, Metformin helps to normalize your metabolism. Paleo, with its emphasis on "clean" eating (grass fed, pastured meat and dairy, wild caught fish, organic veggies, emphasis on essential nutrients, avoidance of grains and often dairy) is the best path to restore health when combined with low carb for you.

My biggest regret after my baby is that I fell off the low carb wagon. My weight came back and more (100+ pounds) and my health suffered greatly. I've been back on low carb and paleo more than a year, 60 lbs down and I feel great. I know what you're going through and I know you can do it. At 29 you have a lifetime of health ahead of you you can do it!

7b9b5de13a30c823dae64a971cb14add

(540)

on January 21, 2013
at 10:14 PM

Thanks for the encouragement and your story! Low carb diet + metformin did nothing for me previously, but that always STILL included whole wheat, brown rice, spelt etc since I was always told to eat 100 - 125g of carbs a day! Clearly my endos were not so swift... So when you refer to carb limits re: berries, how did you figure yours out/what is it? Do you calculate the carbs you get from veggies and still aim for a certain number? I want to count at least at the beginning while my head is getting re-organized. My previous understanding of low carb really doesn't apply.

2
32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3

(5802)

on February 23, 2013
at 03:08 PM

There is a ton of info on this site, and even an ebook dedicated to paleo and pcos:

http://www.paleoforwomen.com/paleo-and-pcos/

1
0c8f3010ebaee7d5e9338e49824753af

(150)

on February 23, 2013
at 03:04 PM

I'm not the right person to give you any word of advice as my phenotype of PCOS is way different than yours. But a couple of things I know might help you.

As Scratch mentioned above, resistance training has been proven in several studies to lower IR. It could be a ray of hope for you as for some, reversing IR gets improves hormonal profile to a great extent.

Fructose is proven to exacerbate insulin resistance. Berries are the way to go...

0
75b431f05d4b755c56e887e7f4850a4b

on July 26, 2013
at 07:32 PM

I am about a half a year late on this thread but am so glad I found it. I am also PCOS and just started Paleo. I am interested to see how you are doing. I have been on my period (two weeks early) for 9 days now and have been eating paleo for 11 days. Did anyone have this happen? Any tips on what to do? I really don't want to have to go to the doctor if it is just something I need to wait out.

7b9b5de13a30c823dae64a971cb14add

(540)

on September 03, 2013
at 12:54 AM

I'm about to hit the reset button again. VLC was giving me horrible stomach problems, so I was doing trial and error to find the sweet spot and got off track. Just started seeing an ND this month to get back on track since there are a few other things going on with my health - hormonal stuff that seems to go against the idea of VLC and I wanted some more personalized guidance. ND also gave me Progensa to use from ovulation on since my mood was a mess, among other reasons. Good luck!

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