Research Review: Keto For PCOS

It’s PCOS awareness month and since 10% of women suffer from PCOS and nearly 50% of them go undiagnosed, I think it is important to highlight Keto as a Therapeutic option.

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Why Keto Can Help

Since PCOS is characterized by insulin resistance, inflammation, obesity, impaired hormone levels, and damaged metabolism, I think the Keto diet can offer some therapeutic value since transitioning to fat and ketones for fuel tends to lead to improved insulin levels, lower inflammation, weight loss, and improved metabolism.

The Research

One study in 2005 put this hypothesis to the test with one of the first pilot studies investigating the effects of a Ketogenic Diet on patients with PCOS (4).

11 obese women with PCOS were volunteers for this study. Participants were instructed to follow a Ketogenic Diet for 24 weeks. Participants returned to the clinic every two weeks for measurements and help sticking to the diet.

At the end of 24 weeks the results demonstrated that those who completed the study decreased body weight by an average of 12%, free testosterone by 22%, LH/FSH ration by 36% and fasting insulin by 54%.  It’s also important to mention that the researchers also reported non-significant decreases in insulin, glucose, testosterone, HBA1c and perceived body hair also decreased.

What is even more incredible, two women became pregnant during the study despite previous infertility problems! If that doesn’t tell you there is something too look at then I don’t know what will.

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As always, we need a lot more research before we can definitively say what the best approach to treating PCOS is but with some of the early studies and anecdotal stories giving these kinds of results, I think it would be difficult to not consider Keto a top option! 


Mavropoulos, J. C., Yancy, W. S., Hepburn, J., & Westman, E. C. (2005). The effects of a low-carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet on the polycystic ovary syndrome: a pilot study. Nutrition & metabolism2(1), 35.

Christopher Irvin