Part 3 of our “PCOS- A deep dive” Series:
RECAP: What’s the deal with carbs?
• Insulin is a hormone needed for normal metabolic function of whole body
• Adequate insulin action is needed for ovarian function (formation of one mature egg from multiple immature eggs). In PCOS, there is blockage of this formation pathway.
• Insulin may not work properly when there is lack of exercise or when there is a state of excess carbohydrate intake – Insulin Resistance
• What are carbohydrates? Carbohydrates are an essential nutrient which provides our body with energy (glucose).
• What happens when there are too many carbohydrates? Body only uses a certain amount glucose for energy. Rest is stored (small amount) or converted to fat.
• Where are carbohydrates found? Any food we take, especially in an Indian diet, contains a portion of carbohydrates, protein and fat – including grains, pulses, vegetables, fruits. Though the percentage and type of carbohydrates may vary from food to food, they are still a source of carbohydrates.
• Simple carbs – ex.honey, table sugar, jaggery, fruits. (If it tastes sweet when it touches your tongue, it means it’s structure has already been broken down- it is a simple sugar). So once ingested, there are immediate sugar/insulin spikes
• Complex carbohydrates- it takes longer to break down the structure of these molecules, so gradual spike in sugar/insulin levels. Ex.brown rice, whole wheat, millets, ragi
• Can we survive without carbohydrates? ABSOLUTELY. Body breaks down carbohydrates to glucose, which further breaks down to acetyl coa. This acetyl coa is used for our body s “energy factory.”. Acetyl coa can also be derived from fats (more) and protein. So body can get energy from (healthy) fats and to some extent, proteins
• Fats act as an alternative energy fuel for body (in absence of glucose)
• Atkins, paleo, LCHF, keto- all are examples of diets which mainly reduce carbohydrates.
• Won’t I feel hungry? – NO. Only ratio is being adjusted. You are reducing portion of carbohydrates and increasing ratio of fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
• When you reduce carbohydrates CONSISTENTLY in diet, your body starts to “not rely” on glucose and use fat for energy metabolism.
• This leads to reduction in water retention, improved mental function, better mood, better sleep, better satiety, reduced joint pain, and over time, reduced weight and body size.