Did you know that insulin resistance causes excessive blood insulin?

Sounds a little confusing at first, but let me explain. When cells in our body don’t respond to insulin (insulin resistance), our body tries to compensate by continuing to making more insulin, resulting in excessive blood insulin levels!

Hallmark of PCOS – Insulin Resistance:

The diagnostic guideline of polycystic ovarian syndrome had been evolving over the years. In October 2013, the Endocrine Society defined positive PCOS diagnosis as when 2 of the following 3 conditions are present:

  • Androgen excess – high levels of insulin leads to hormone imbalance.
  • Ovulatory dysfunction – too much androgen lead to impaired ovulation.
  • Polycystic ovaries – again, caused by hormone imbalance brought on by insulin resistance.

As you can see, insulin resistance is one of the root causes of PCOS.

What are some options for treating PCOS?

There are several things you can do:

  1. Insulin sensitizing agents – drugs like metformin that treat diabetes can be prescribed by your doctor to reduce excessive blood insulin.
  2. Anti-androgen – targeting the hormonal imbalance aspect of PCOS.
  3. Life style alterations – if you are overweight, exercise and diet change can help reduce body weight to alleviate insulin resistance.

Medical studies demonstrate that losing weight can improve menstrual cycles and ovulation in overweight PCOS women, thereby favouring pregnancy. Unfortunately, for PCOS women with normal to low body mass index (BMI), this did not seem like a viable method until recently…

New research demonstrates that timed caloric intake can improve chances of a successful pregnancy in normal weight PCOS women!

Meal timing could impact on mass, appetite and insulin resistance in healthy individuals. In a recent publication, researchers from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University compared the effect of timed caloric intake on insulin resistance in PCOS women with normal BMI:

  1. Heavy Breakfast – 980 kcal breakfast, 640 kcal lunch and 190 kcal dinner.
  2. Heavy Dinner – 190 kcal breakfast, 640 kcal lunch and 980 kcal dinner.

The total caloric intake is the same in these diets, but the timing is different.

Result from this study showed that consuming a heavy breakfast could greatly reduce androgen and increase ovulation rate. Strikingly, no improvement was observed with a heavy dinner diet.

The lead researcher in this study stated, “Diet is not about weight loss but insulin management.” Therefore, PCOS women with normal BMI can also benefit from diet management!

The researchers also note that PCOS impacts on in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments, therefore managing insulin levels by timing caloric intake could help with fertility treatments.

What’s next?

If you would like to learn more about PCOS and fertility, please check out our related posts on Fertility Problems in Women: When to Ask for Treatment and PCOS Management During Pregnancy. Or download our free Ebook on female infertility below:

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