At this point in time, I am not aware of any studies that provide data as to the recommended level of carbohydrates for a woman with PCOS. Some diets include The Food Pyramid-based diet (55 percent of calories from carbohydrates.but select mainly from whole grains), a diet which is 40 percent carbohydrates (The Zone), or a very strict diet that allows only 20 percent of calories from carbohydrates (Atkins or Protein Power). In my experience, there is no one level that will work for all women. Dr. Walter Futterweit, clinical professor of the Division of Endocrinology of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, has been working with women with PCOS for 25 years. He suggests that nonobese women with PCOS who get regular periods eat a balanced diet, moderate.not excessive intakes of carbohydrates (approximately 50 percent of calories), and select complex unrefined carbohydrates over refined carbohydrates. An obese insulin-resistant woman should consume a diet that is 40 percent carbohydrates or less, depending upon the degree of insulin resistance. These are only guidelines.the diet should be tailored to fit the individual person. I would suggest starting with a diet that is 40 percent carbohydrates and work your way downward if need be. Some subjective indicators that the diet is "working" are: decreased cravings and increased energy levels. Some objective measures that the diet may be working are: weight loss, decreased insulin levels, regular periods. Clearly, this is an area that needs to be researched.
Several of the popular low carbohydrate diets contain as much as 60 percent of calories from fat, much of it saturated. I do not recommend these diets as saturated fat has been linked to heart disease. These diets could be especially dangerous for women with PCOS, as they already have an increased risk of heart disease. In addition, these diets are low in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and disease fighting phytochemicals. Remember that this is not a temporary diet.it is one that you will need to follow long term! Therefore, you will need to make it as healthy as possible.
Since the majority of women with PCOS are overweight, calories are very important. For weight control, remember.all calories, whether from fat, protein or carbohydrate, in excess of your body's needs, will turn to fat. In order to lose weight, you must stay within your calorie goal.
Suggested caloric intakes for weight maintenance:
• Multiply your current weight by an activity factor between 10 and 20. Use a higher number (15 to 20) if you are younger, moderately overweight or of ideal weight and moderate to very active. The less active and more overweight you are, the lower the number should be (between 10 and 14).
Suggested caloric intakes for weight loss:
• To lose one pound a week, subtract 500 from your maintenance caloric level.
• To lose two pounds a week, subtract 1000 calories from the maintenance level.
Example: A 30-year-old female whose height is 5' 5", weight is 145 pounds, and who exercises three times a week for 45 minutes would multiply her weight by 15. Therefore, her maintenance caloric needs are approximately 2,175 calories a day. To lose one pound a week (subtract 500 calories), she would consume 1,675 calories a day. To lose one and one-half pounds a week (subtract 750 calories), she would consume 1,425 calories. It is not recommended that anyone eat less than 1,200 calories on a regular basis as this may slow the metabolism as well as be nutritionally inadequate.
The following recommendations can help you plan your diet. The bottom line is that you need to find a diet that works for you and is one that you can live with.