Short-term ketogenic diet was found to significantly enhance weight loss in women having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), according to new research.
Resorting to the low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet for 45 days also improved women's hormonal imbalances usually seen in PCOS, the meta-analytical study by the Malaysian Ministry of Health found.
PCOS is a common hormonal disorder in women of childbearing age, characterised by irregular periods and low ovulation, high levels of male sex hormones such as testosterone and cysts in ovaries. Other symptoms may include excess hair growth, acne, infertility, and weight gain.
Keto diet intervention in women with PCOS markedly improved their reproductive hormone levels, along with lowering their follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) ratio, which meant they had a better chance of ovulating thereby, enhancing fertility, the study published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society said.
The researchers also saw reduced testosterone levels in these women.
The study was a meta-analysis of clinical trials in women with PCOS on the keto diet and examined the diet's effects on their reproductive hormones and weight change. The overall analysis included 170 participants.
Following a ketogenic diet is one of the means through which the body can be made to enter the metabolic state of ketosis, in which fat is burned for energy instead of carbohydrates.
The diet was also found to normalise menstrual cycles and optimise cholesterol levels in these women having PCOS, which is known to heighten the risk developing diabetes, obesity and other metabolic health problems.
"We found an association between the ketogenic diet and an improvement in reproductive hormone levels, which influence fertility, in women with PCOS," said the study's corresponding author Karniza Khalid, Ministry of Health Malaysia.
"These findings have important clinical implications, especially for endocrinologists, gynaecologists and dieticians who, in addition to medical treatment, should carefully plan and customise individual diet recommendations for women with PCOS," said Khalid.