Carbs. Salty, chewy carbs. Tortilla chips, sourdough bread, crackers, potatoes, rice. MMMM. CARBS. Oh, how I love carbs. I’d take the warm, chewy sourdough bread with a tab of melting butter over the freshly-baked chocolate cake any day. Who needs sugar when you can have BREAD?!
When all the Atkins and Southbeach and Zone diets started coming out, I remember having this reaction, summed up so exquisitely by Michael Cera in Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World: (And yes, Scotty, I could eat garlic bread for every meal, too.)
Now that I know what’s up with my body (PCOS and subclinical hypothyroid), it makes sense that in my dieting life, the only diet that’s ever worked has been low-carb. When you have PCOS, you are typically insulin resistant, which means that sugars and carbs spike your blood sugar, causing you to hold on to those calories and sugar grams much more than fat. Here’s a nifty diagram that explains it:
I’ve had the sad realization lately that a low-calorie diet with exercise ain’t gonna do it. Oh no. My body needs less, and in a way, it needs more. More fat, less carbs. My doctor is sadly moving on to another practice, so next week I’ll meet with her replacement, hopefully somebody who can work with me and be like “THIS IS WHY YOU’RE FAT” (and, ahem, not point out the meal I had last week that *was* just a giant piece of garlic bread. Naaaaah. Couldn’t be that.) Today I started a super low dose of Synthroid to help get my sluggish thyroid moving a little bit, and I was also put back on Metformin, the diabetes drug that helps with PCOS insulin resistance. When I was on it last time for a few weeks, I remember lovvvving the energy boost I felt. I wasn’t dragging through the day. I’m looking forward to feeling normal again, even though a nice, nasty summer cold showed up today and I sound all froggy.
I’ve decided to start counting carbs again. While I’m not necessarily doing an Atkins style diet, I’m going to try to eat around 100-150 grams of carbs per day. I came to this number by doing some extensive Googling. The first two weeks of Atkins, induction, has you eating 40 grams of carbs or less. I figure 100 is a nice number that allows me to still have a piece of bread here and there, but for the most part, my meals need to be vegetable and protein. It’s not too bad, I suppose. I’d honestly rather eat low-carb than 1,000 calories, because at least on low carb you can enjoy olive oil, butter and cheese, sparingly. And who doesn’t love bacon?! I’ve been using My Fitness Pal and a new app called Daily Carb.
Given that low-carb has always been the key to success with me and weight loss, I’m hoping this new approach towards eating plus regular exercise and my new medicines will help get things moving the right way. Thankfully I’ve maintained a couple pounds down in the past month, which I’m hopeful about as the scale has FINALLY stopped moving up. I suppose it could be different when I weigh in at the doctor’s next week, but for now, I’m trying not to focus on the number so much as getting into a routine. Because consistency is key, right?
Have you noticed anything about how carbs affect your weight loss? Does it not matter? Are you one of those lucky people who could LOSE weight by eating only carbs?
Without going into all the details (just note I was TIRED of conventional medicine treating symptoms, so I went to a natureopath who said – clean your diet, the rest will follow), I think you should try the Whole 30. It is ONLY 3 days. I did it. Four friends did it with me. We have all experience INSANE benefits. Off diabetes meds. IBS GONE. Allergies CURED. We are all dropping weight without trying. Not to mention every last one of us (after suffering through headaches and withdrawal) feel insane. I am running 8, 10, 13 miles withOUT bonking for the first time ever. My severe hypoglycemia is GONE.
Take a look: http://whole9life.com/2011/10/whole-30-v5/
You can feel free to email me if you have any questions. I know I sound like an ad, but I swear I am a real person. I didn’t know how easy it could be to change my health.
Thanks for commenting – I’ll definitely check it out, I’ve seen lots of my bloggy buddies do it with good results. I tried to go Paleo once before but I think I ate too much almond butter to see good results, haha! 🙂
Low-carb moderate-calorie works WAY better for me than low-fat high-carb low-calorie. Right now I’m trying to be around 125 g carbs a day and it’s definitely doable for me so long as I keep ice cream out of the house!! This way I still have the option of 1 serving of grains a day if I REALLY want it, but most days I just forgo the grains altogether. Eventually I will move to 100% paleo but I’m not quite there yet and it’s nice to have a little bit of wiggle room while I get used to things made of…well…FOOD. I grew up on fast food and Kraft so there’s definitely been a learning curve!
And girl I hear you on the almond butter! I realized it was becoming an Issue so I had to let it go for a little while since I was relying way too much on it.
LOL Brittany I’m so glad I’m not the only one who has almond butter problems…. I was eating it waaaaaay too often. That and cashews. So maybe I need to go the Paleo concept an honest try without almond butter and cashews, haha! 125g of carb is a good number to try, I’ll probably end up around there with my “grace period” of 100-150 carbs. Thanks for commenting <3
My Irish husband insisted I watch this lovely talk on sugars and carbs and how they break down… It was pretty interesting if any of you guys are interested in learning more about glucose – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM
If I even look at a carb, I gain weight. For me it’s feast or famine, no carbs whatsoever are the only way I can completely avoid them.
I’m writing a post about this type of thing right now! 🙂 And I love that clip from Scott Pilgrim.
I am not a fan of conventional medications, so I am treating my PCOS via a nutritionist & exercise. My acupuncturist (also a nutritionist) suggests keeping the carbs <80g/day! Initially it seemed impossible, but most days I can keep it around 85g/day, which is a HUGE improvement from my prior average carb intake of 200-300g/day! I lost 10lbs due to reducing the carbs! I also found that reducing the carbs helped to regulate my period flow. I use myfitnesspal to help me track, and I am a lifetimer with Weight Watchers.
Hello! I also have PCOS – and nothing seems to work to loose weight…I do low cal diets and exercise, and I gain weight, while my sisters (who don’t have PCOS and started the weightloss journey with me) loose weight! I have been reading a lot that low carb diet is the way to go for PCOS. I find it so hard since I am a full time student so $$ is an issue as is time, and pasta is always the simplest thing for me to make! growing up we had pasta every other night! (and on other nights, rice or potatoes or corn!) So I know this will be a challenge, but I love reading about others and their journeys! so thanks for sharing! However, I noticed this post is from the summer…could you give an update on how this has worked for you (being half a year later?) ? Or if there is a blog, can you point me in direction?! thanks!
I was officially diagnosed with PCOS just a week and a half ago, although a family friend who has had it her whole life predicted a year ago that I had it. She has been on a grain free, sugar free, low carb diet and she got her bloodwork from terrifying to perfect in one year. She lost 50 pounds between two summers of me seeing her. So I have quite a bit of inspiration. It’s incredibly hard for me because guess what my all time favorite foods are? Pizza. Pasta. Potatoes. Popcorn. Lovely right? Well, I figured that once I lost the weight that I want, which will take a while, I can slowly incorporate some of those on OCCASION. That’s the key. It’s a struggle, though, believe me! But if I can do it, you guys can do it!
I also have PCOS but just found out about it in June and just this month have been started on metformin day 15 today and was told to go low carb by my doctor after gaining weight but yet cutting calories and walking more due to my job so this low carb thing is completely new to me. I actually acepted my diagnosis really well as I’ve had 4 years to come to terms that something is definately not right and with my husband talking about ttc got me going to find out whats up. Loved the article and hope to find much more info to use on your site!
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I am WAY late to this post but found it while doing some research. I have PCOS, am insulin resistant, and way overweight. I recently lost 20 pounds by cutting carbs to 20g a day but I am FREAKING MISERABLE. I am contemplating adding whole grains back into my diet. How is it going for you? I need the weight gone but I also need my sanity.
I’d be interested to talk to you via email. I’m 27 years old (current weight is 240) and was diagnosed with PCOS in high school. For years I’ve struggled with carb control. in 2013-2014 I lost close to 75lbs on low carb diets but have since put some weight back on. I’m currently “clean eating” and have lost 17 but then kind of stalled. By clean eating, I basically just mean eating healthier grains and limiting carbs to around 75 grams a day. I’m not near as miserable as I was before when I ate around 30 a day. But the weight comes off much slower it seems.
I’ll try to leave my email below so you can contact me if you’d like to share ideas.
Thanks and best of luck,
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Thanks for this article! I have PCOS and am on metformin. I lost 30 lbs in 4 months on Take Shape for Life, and found your article because I am researching for maintenance how many carbs I should be aiming for. For weight loss, my plan says between 80-100 g of carbs results in a mild state of ketosis. I loved the plan because it was so mindless. Just buy the food (which tastes carby) and make one meal a day. I love it!
This is by far the best website and blog I’ve found! My DR didn’t tell me I had PCOS. I had to see a fertility specialist. And now my OB just likes to spend my appointments telling me how overweight I am… instead of telling me what I can eat she just said I should see a nutritional dr and instead of the 2 miles I walk “maybe I should walk 4” lovely right but this has been the most informative thank you so much!!
Please help me lose weight . I have PCOS. I always felt my hunger and being over weight was my own fault..I didn’t think PCOS was to blame.I am 29. 5ft 10..weight 230 lbs. I have never been below 200. I have seen Dr. says to see an specialist GYN. They dont talk about carbs at all. Just tell me to lose weight. I was on metformin years ago-it was horrible experience.The effects of it–made me very ill.So I’d like to lose weight counting carbs and trying to work this out myself if I can. Thanks. Steffie
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