Should we do 3 meals? One meal a day? Intermittent fasting? 5 small meals??
The answer to this question can be a little complex since we all have different needs, but here’s how I manage meal with my PCOS clients.
First, let’s recap how insulin works. Insulin is the hormone that helps the fuel from your food enter your cells so your body can use it for energy.
In PCOS, we are resistant to insulin and this often means we make too much after meals. Insulin is the main trigger for our androgenic hormones like testosterone and thus is one of the main triggers of your symptoms.
In theory, less eating = less insulin but this is where it gets complex.
Your body actually stores sugar in it’s muscles called glycogen. When your body doesn’t have any fuel, it will release that stored energy which will cause your blood sugar to rise and prompt your body to release insulin.
This can happen whenever your body feels starved and it also happens when your body is stressed as a fight or flight response!
So, while fasting may be helpful to some degree for some with PCOS, it does not work well when there is any kind of major stress or adrenal responses or in someone who doesn’t already have fairly balanced blood sugar. It also tends to work better at night than in the morning because we have less need for energy then.
So the ideal for most is actually 3 square meals a day with maybe one mini-meal snack.
The problem is that sometimes when you are first getting used to eating better, it can be tough to drag your meals apart, especially if you’re used to snacking and grazing.
So, at the beginning, 5 small balanced meals will also help to regulate your blood sugar and can be a good place to start. Just ensure you have a good amount of protein (around 20g) at each of those meals and fill up on fiber rather than simple starch.
Look out for signs of better balance like increased energy, reduced fatigue after meals, less headaches and crankiness, and more ability to wait to eat. Once you feel more balanced, try cutting out one of those meals, then maybe two and get to your 3 meals a day.
I hope this works for you! And if you want to learn more tips you can use to make a real difference in your PCOS, my PCOS foundations course is the perfect place to start! Here’s a new piece of feedback I got just the other day from a student:
“When I registered, I sort of expected to get a 20 minute video and meal plan which would have been okay I guess. But what I got is so so much better. I am blown away by the content so far and I’m only 12% through the course!! I just wanted to say thank you for offering this and for doing so at such an affordable price point. I’m learning so much but you present it such an easy way to digest (pun intended 🙂 ) way. I’m taking time each day to watch a video or two and really let the material sink in so that it’s not overwhelming. So thank you thank you thank you! I’m looking forward to implementing some of these changes and taking control back of my health!”