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Ketogenic Diets and Infertility

Image by Ed Harris

The Ketogenic Diets and Infertility require 70-80% of calories from fat, 15-25% of calories from protein and only 5-10% of calories from carbohydrates, it is both controversial and risky.⁠

As a woman embarks on the path to motherhood, she should be nourishing her body–not inducing a state of metabolic starvation like ketosis. In contrast to the keto diet, a “fertility-friendly” diet is nutrient-dense and has a low-glycemic index. ⁠

It is important to focus on incorporating protein and healthy fats and eliminating processed carbohydrates and added sugars, it is equally important to balance your diet with nutritious fruits, starchy vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. These healthy carbohydrates provide essential micronutrients to naturally promote fertility.⁠

Reducing carbohydrate intake can reduce circulating insulin levels, improve hormonal imbalance and result in a resumption of ovulation to improve #pregnancy rates.⁠

Low carbohydrate diets can help to optimize fertility in some clinical groups, particularly for overweight and obese women with PCOS. ⁠

However, it is not clear how low in carbohydrates the Ketogenic Diets and Infertility should be or how long the diet should be maintained for optimal fertility outcomes. There has been a lack of research on the benefit of low carbohydrate diets for non-PCOS-related infertile women. More research is needed! ⁠

Hormones and Ketogenic Diets

Eating a high fat low carbohydrate diet helps improve and regulate your reproductive hormones. It can help in two ways: by providing your body with the building blocks of hormones (aka cholesterol), reducing the intake of foods that mimic reproductive hormones, and reducing the effects of metabolic syndrome by lowering blood glucose levels. Several of the most important reproductive hormones including Estrogen, Progesterone, and Testosterone all derive from cholesterol. That’s not all Cholesterol does for fertility, it is also a critical component of Vitamin D synthesis from sunlight, which is similarly shown to play a vital role in fertility.

PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects 1 in 10 women. It is largely characterized by having high male hormone levels (hyperandrogenism), infrequent ovulation and is the leading cause of infertility. Adapting a fertility diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates is one of the best ways to improve the PCOS symptoms that prevent pregnancy.  PCOS is highly correlated with carrying excess weight, type 2 diabetes, previous gestational diabetes, and cholesterol problems – problems that are all linked to high insulin levels. One recent study showed that every PCOS patient enrolled in a High Fat Low Carbohydrate fertility diet resumed regular menstruation and ovulation and half got pregnant naturally without the need of any medical intervention like ovulation induction, IUI, or IVF.

Should you take supplements on a ketogenic diet?

It can be extremely difficult to ensure your body is getting all of the vitamins and minerals that are essential to reproduction when on a ketogenic diet. Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients are known to impact fertility.  Supplements can be a great way to support a healthy diet and helping to improve fertility outcomes. 

Besides:

  • Protein
  • Good fats
  • iron

You need plenty of:

  • Vitamin C
  • Folate
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc
  • Folic acid
  • Selenium

Nutrients. 2017 Mar; 9(3): 204.⁠

Published online 2017 Feb 27. doi: 10.3390/nu9030204⁠

PMCID: PMC5372867⁠

PMID: 28264433⁠

The Effect of Low Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diets and Infertility Hormones and Outcomes in Overweight and Obese Women: A Systematic Review⁠

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