Keto For PCOS - The Do's and Don'ts

Women suffering with PCOS find diet one of the trickiest elements to deal with when struggling with the condition.

Eating the wrong thing can result in bloating or a hormone flux. Thus, some women try different diets to help manage the adverse side effects of PCOS like weight gain. One of the most popular trends at the moment for PCOS-sufferers is the keto diet which has been used to help relieve the symptoms of the condition.

However, with all diets there can be problems. You should invest a lot of time into understanding the effect a keto diet lifestyle can have on your body.

What is a Keto Diet?

A ketogenic diet, also known as the keto diet, is a ‘low-carb, high-fat diet’, which involves ‘drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat’. The reduction in carbs puts your body in a state called ketosis. This lowers your blood sugar and insulin levels and helps you lose weight and speed up your metabolism.

How Can a Keto Diet Help PCOS Sufferers?

The keto diet may have several potential benefits for women with PCOS, primarily due to its impact on insulin sensitivity, hormone regulation, and weight loss. The diet aims to reduce carbohydrate intake, which can help to regulate and stabilize blood sugar levels. This can help to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other health conditions associated with insulin resistance. By reducing carbohydrate intake, the body is encouraged to enter a state of ketosis, where it burns fat for energy instead of glucose. This can result in significant weight loss, which can be beneficial for women who are experiencing weight gain as a symptom of PCOS.

The keto diet may also promote hormone regulation by increasing the production of ketones, which can help to reduce the overproduction of androgens. Androgens are male sex hormones that are naturally present in women; however, excessive levels can lead to PCOS symptoms. By reducing androgens through the keto diet, women may experience a reduction in symptoms such as hirsutism (excessive hair growth) and acne.

Women who suffer with PCOS often struggle with infertility and getting pregnant. The reason for this is because the high insulin levels caused by an insulin resistance overpower the production of eggs. Cleveland Clinic conducted a study on four women suffering from polycystic-ovary syndrome. They switched them to a keto diet to see the effect it would have on their fertility. All four of the patients in the study were having irregular periods prior to the start of the research. Within just four to eight weeks of starting the diet, all four had regular menstruation and two even conceived spontaneously.

Diet Doctor believe that a low-carb diet is essential in effective treatment for polycystic-ovary syndrome. They have listed studies that have shown ‘great promise’ in a keto diet helping reverse the adverse symptoms of the condition.

The Do's and Don’ts of a Keto Diet For PCOS

The Do's:

  1. Focus on healthy fats: When following the keto diet for PCOS, it’s essential to choose healthy sources of fat. Eating healthy fat sources such as avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish can help support hormone regulation. Healthy fats provide the body with essential nutrients and can help keep us feeling fuller for longer.
  2. Prioritize low-carb vegetables: Vegetables are a crucial component of any healthy diet, including the keto diet. Non-starchy vegetables such as leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, and asparagus are examples of vegetables that will fit into a PCOS-focused keto diet. These vegetables are low in carbohydrates and high in fiber, making them an excellent choice to support healthy digestion.
  3. Moderate protein intake: While protein is an essential macronutrient, it’s important to moderate your intake when following the keto diet. Opt for lean protein sources like chicken, fish, tofu, and eggs. Be cautious not to overconsume protein, as it can interfere with ketosis.
  4. Stay hydrated: Hydration is always a crucial aspect of maintaining overall health, regardless of the type of diet you follow. Water helps to flush out toxins, support digestion, and promote kidney function. Aim to drink at least eight cups of water per day.
  5. Monitor your progress: Monitoring progress is an important part of any change you make to your lifestyle. When making dietary changes such as the keto diet, it’s beneficial to keep track of your symptoms, overall well-being, and progress. This can help you identify what works best for your body and make necessary adjustments along the way.

The Don'ts:

  1. Don't rush into it: Transitioning into the keto diet can be challenging, and it's essential not to rush your body into a drastic change. Try gradually reducing your carbohydrate intake over a period of time. This slower approach may help prevent any drastic side effects that may arise and support a more sustainable transition.
  2. Avoid processed and refined foods: Processed and refined foods often contain high levels of added sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. These foods can negatively impact hormone regulation, insulin sensitivity, and overall health. Stick to whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible.
  3. Don't neglect essential nutrients: While following the keto diet, it’s important to ensure you're getting all the nutrients your body needs. Consider supplementing with vitamins such as B-complex, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids to support overall health in consultation with a qualified healthcare professional.
  4. Limit dairy consumption: Dairy products can often aggravate PCOS symptoms for some women due to their potential to increase insulin levels. If you choose to consume dairy, opt for full-fat, low-lactose options and monitor how your body responds.
  5. Avoid over-restriction: Restricting too many calories or following the keto diet too strictly can have a negative impact on health. It’s important to listen to your body's hunger and fullness signals and ensure you provide it with adequate nourishment.


The keto diet may have potential benefits for managing PCOS symptoms and overall health. However, it’s important to proceed with caution and seek guidance from healthcare professionals before making any significant dietary changes.It may be incredibly useful to those trying to conceive or lose some weight, but on a long-term basis, a keto PCOS diet may not be the most suitable lifestyle for everyone.

Remember to prioritize your individual needs and work alongside healthcare professionals to develop a personalized approach to your PCOS journey. In closing, always remember that you are your best advocate when it comes to taking care of your health and well-being.

You can read some of our recipes for low-carb meals here.

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