It's hard to keep up with the latest diet crazes that we are flooded continuously within the health realm. One fad that has seemed to stick is the avoidance of carbs for weight loss. Such diet trends that suppress the carbohydrate metabolism have the potential for side effects, especially in women. As women, we all require a balance of protein carbohydrate and fats. Females need carbohydrates, and a lot more than men do, as the glucose threshold exists for the natural response of the hypothalamus to produce luteinizing hormone (LH) and therefore stimulate ovulation.
As for PCOS, while most of those with this syndrome are required to reduce their carbohydrate intake, it should be established what nature of PCOS you have and whether it is entirely relevant to minimize carbohydrate intake. If it is, then making the change to these complex carbohydrates that are high in fiber allow them to be broken down gradually over time. The consumption of these carbs are important as spikes in blood glucose levels can throw off female hormone profiles and reduce ovulation. Instead, your body will be able to manage the release of glucose over some time.
Another reason to not wholly avoid carbs is for its effect on the nervous system.
During times of stress it is vital we eat complex carbs that are slow digesting and avoid blood sugar drops that send your cortisol through the roof! When your blood sugar drops, your body will compensate by making more cortisol¹. If you are someone that is often stressed or suffers from anxiety or chronic fatigue, then a low carbohydrate lifestyle may not be so suited to you.
IT is not to say eat ALL of the carbs. Cut sugar out of your diet and include complex, starchy carbs such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, and oats to establish a healthy balance of your hormones homeostasis. Try and aim for the ½ cup at each meal, and opt for fruit with protein as a snack throughout the day. Think twice about what you read online or take the diet plan your gym instructor has prescribed as gospel. There is never a ‘one size fits all,’ and there must be an emphasis on the knowledge for carbohydrates that are more beneficial to us than we think.
Jade is a final year naturopathy Student at Southern School of Natural Therapies. She is currently seeing patients from the student clinic at their Fitzroy campus.