We receive many questions from women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) about managing insulin resistance and weight gain, which are frequent results of PCOS. These patients do not respond normally to insulin, leading to high testosterone levels that disrupt the menstrual cycle. The good news is that, women with PCOS may not need to resort to insulin-lowering medications in order to improve their chances of conceiving.
Research conducted by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University suggests that the timing of food intake is an important factor in managing insulin resistance and hormone levels. Published in 2013 in the journal Clinical Science, the study monitored 60 women with PCOS, ages 25 to 39, over the course of 12 weeks. While each of the 60 women consumed roughly 1,800 calories per day, half of the women consumed the bulk of their calories at breakfast time and the other half at dinner. Read the full study.
The results indicated that the group that consumed more calories at breakfast experienced higher ovulation rates than the group that ate a larger dinner. The “breakfast” group also showed an eight percent decrease in glucose levels and insulin resistance. In addition, testosterone levels decreased by 50 percent in this subset of study participants. The “dinner” group, meanwhile, did not show changes in these areas.
Based on this data, we encourage women who are interested in managing their PCOS and associated insulin resistance via natural means to eat a hearty breakfast and avoid large meals at the end of the day. This approach is beneficial for both overweight and slim women. Consuming the bulk of calories during the day, when you are active, keeps your glucose levels high when you need energy the most and lower overnight. This allows the body self-regulate glucose levels and may promote weight loss in overweight women.