3 Reasons To Track Your Food

3 Reasons To Track Your Food

If you know me, you know I’m not big on the calorie-counting and tracking mania of the rest of the diet world.  I prefer to let people figure out their health intuitively, eating whole, healthful foods that make them feel good.  

But in some circumstances I actually think tracking may be a good idea.

There’s no one size fits all way to know if tracking might be a good choice for you.  You know yourself best.

But here are 3 reasons you might consider tracking food intake.

#1 Micronutrients

Even if you’re eating paleo, you may not be getting ALL the nutrients required for health.  

Ever monitored how much potassium you’re taking in?  I can almost guarantee it doesn’t meet the recommended daily allowance.  

Now, I’m not about perfectionism and strict rule following.

But micronutrients are just as important, if not more important than macros.

Instead of worrying about what exact percentage or gram amount of carbs you’re eating in a day, how’s about worrying if you’ve got your daily allotment of vitamin C, or the B vitamins, or (gasp!) fiber!

You might be surprised.  In fact, I’m pretty sure you will be.

Because if you’re not downing tons of non-starchy veggies and leafy greens you’re not getting as much as you could.  And if you’re not going to make it a priority, it might be time to start thinking about the dreaded multivitamin to help prevent nutrient deficiencies.

I recommend this one in my post on multivitamins which you can find here

#2 You’re having trouble losing weight

I’m a huge proponent of eating a naturally healthy diet and being moderate about the crazy counting calories stuff.

My program Weight Loss Unlocked works for a lot of people by helping them make healthful food choices without really having to count anything.  But some people just have trouble with this method.  

Did you know the average person underestimated their caloric intake by about 30%?  

That number can rise even more if the person isn’t tracking calories.

And while I agree that calories are not the end all be all of weight loss, and certainly not of health, you can’t eat 3000 of them as a fairly sedentary person a day and expect to lose weight.

I don’t care if you’re eating cake or coconut oil, too many calories are going to derail your efforts.  

This is where tracking can help.

Take a week and see where you’re at.  That can give you a better idea of where you’re eating too much and where you’re just right.

Then try tracking a week at a more appropriate calorie count for weight loss and be mindful of how it feels.  Then, when you stop tracking, you’ll have a better idea of what the right amount of food should feel like.  

#3 You’re gaining weight or aren’t feeling well

Weight gain can be caused by a number of factors- hormones, water retention, medications, etc.

But if you have been gaining weight inexplicably, you haven’t done anything differently, or don’t feel you have, tracking your food intake may be helpful.  

Perhaps you’re eating the same number of calories but have increased your carbohydrate count.  If you have insulin resistance, this could cause weight gain.  If you don’t, it could be water retention.

Maybe you feel like you’ve been eating the same, but are forgetting about those dark chocolate squares you sneak in throughout the day, or that new post-workout drink, or those new fat bombs.  

Excess calories could be causing sneaky pounds to build up.  

Maybe it’s just the second half of your cycle, maybe it’s constipation, it could be anything, but sometimes excessive weight gain can indicate an underlying problem.  

If you track your intake and nothing is outside of normal, and the weight keeps packing on, it could be a thyroid problem or a side effect of a medication, or any number of issues.

You can use this information when you see your doctor, and you’ll be one step ahead of the curve.

Likewise, if you aren’t feeling well or are having increased anxiety, depression, or blood sugar crashes, tracking food intake alongside your mood after eating can help you pinpoint possible issues or trigger food/times.

Same thing goes for having digestive issues.  If you know what you ate and at what time, it’s much easier to figure out intolerance. 

Mindful eating is a skill.  And it’s best learned in the context of normal hunger and satiety cues.  

If your insulin is out of whack or you’re carrying a lot of excess weight, or have any kind of health condition or medication that interferes with your hunger cues, mindful eating is going to be remarkably difficult and could lead to feelings of failure and lack of results.

Nutritionists and nerds alike love the website cronometer.com.  It gives you WAY more detailed micronutrient values than other apps like My Fitness Pal, though that is a great choice for busy people because it has an app.

Whether you choose to track or not, I hope we can all learn to be respectful of what works for us as individuals.

If mindful eating isn’t right for someone right now, they certainly don’t need to be judged for that.  And likewise if counting calories is mentally unhealthy for someone, they deserve respect and support as they follow the natural cues of their body.

Do you track food intake?  Why or why not?  What site do you like to use?

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

The 10 Most Common Mistakes Women with PCOS Make

The 10 Most Common Mistakes Women with PCOS Make

I’ve been working with women who have PCOS now for more than 5 years. In this time, I’ve encountered hundreds if not thousands of specific cases. Iv’e read just about every blog, website, and article there is out there for PCOS. I’ve spent hours searching through online forums and facebook communities, learning about women’s experiences.

After all this time, I’ve learned a thing or two (or several hundred) about what’s right for PCOS, as well as what isn’t.

To help prevent you from making the same mistakes I see over and over again with women who have PCOS, I’ve put together a list of the 10 most common ones. Hopefully then you’ll be able to dodge the bullet, so to speak, and overcome PCOS quickly and painlessly.

  1. Going on the Birth Control Pill

The birth control pill might be a good way to mask symptoms of PCOS, but it never fixes the underlying problem. In fact, many women who go on the pill find that their PCOS has worsens while on it, but don’t find out until they get off the pill, try to get pregnant, then can’t. Birth Control Pills are one of the most favored “solutions” for PCOS of doctors, but they are completely ineffective in terms of healing, fertility, or long-term freedom from PCOS.

  1. Using Metformin

Due to its ability to increase insulin sensitivity, Metformin is one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the Western world. Metformin can help alleviate complications from diabetes, as well as help women who have PCOS, especially type 1 PCOS (more on which in video #2). Metformin is a problem, however, since much like birth control pills, in that it never solves the underlying problem causing hormone imbalance and PCOS. It only ever covers it up.

  1. Taking estrogen blockers

Thousands of women take Estro block or other estrogen blockers in hopes of helping their PCOS. However, estrogen is generally not the main problem for women with PCOS. If you’re taking estrogen blockers, you may be targeting the wrong hormones. Instead, consider looking into ways to decrease testosterone and/or DHEA-S levels, especially if you are “type 1 PCOS”. If you are “type 2 PCOS,” more estrogen might actually be what you need.

  1. Taking herbal supplements

Admittedly, some women find great relief from herbal supplements. But just like with Metformin and birth control pills, they don’t  provide permanent solutions. They only help to alleviate symptoms and cover up underlying issues. Also, they are not well studied by the scientific literature, so their effects are not well known. Most supposed “effects” of herbal supplements simply come from people’s stories. So it may be worthwhile to experiment with herbal supplements while addressing underlying issues, but this should be done carefully, and with due acknowledgement of the fact that it may not fix underlying issues.

  1. Doing a lot of cardio

Is more always better? For exercise, the answer is no, especially if you’re spending all your time on a bike or a treadmill. The best way to exercise for PCOS is to shoot for efficiency: short, intense, effective exercises instead of long, grueling, stamina-demanding exercises are best. This is because short and intense work outs (such as lifting heavy weights) help improve insulin levels and hormone balance, while long-distances exercises can help, but not quite as much. Most women do well shooting for 3-4 weight lifting work outs a week.

  1. Failing to investigate underlying causes

Trying to overcome PCOS without paying attention to its underlying causes is like shooting in the dark. Getting your hormone levels tested by a doctor, by a functional medicine practitioner, or with a home saliva test is a great way to get data on what’s going on in your body. If you don’t have access to that, learning about the potential causes and types of PCOS and their symptoms (which I’ll discuss some in video #2) may very well be enough. The more you know about what’s causing your PCOS, the more specifically you can treat it.

  1. Low carb diets

Most women who have PCOS try a low carbohydrate diet. Is this effective? Sometimes. But not all women are helped by it. In fact, more than 20% of women who have PCOS may be hurt by it. If you try a low carb diet, pay close attention to your symptoms and see if they get better or worse. That way, you can stop yourself from doing damage if you are one of the 20% of women who really need those carbs.

  1. Low fat, high protein diets

Common nutritional wisdom says that low fat, high protein diets are best. Nutritionists or magazines might tell you to eat salad with low fat dressing and lean chicken breast. But this is not necessarily best, and definitely not for women with hormone imbalance. Hormones (and other important parts of the body, such as brain matter) are made out of fat. Without it, as you heal from PCOS, your body won’t be able to produce the hormones it needs. Fat is a friend, for all women with PCOS.

  1. Dining out

Unfortunately, dining out in the West is full of potential dangers for women with PCOS. One of the worst dangers is the fact that the vast majority of restaurants use vegetable oil for their cooking. Vegetable oil (including corn oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, canola oil, and more) is rich in omega 6 fatty acids, which cause inflammation. Inflammation is one of the most common underlying issues that women with PCOS suffer from. To help minimize your inflammation levels, consider dining out as little as possible, or specifically requesting olive oil or butter to be used for your meals. Additionally, adding a fermented cod liver oil supplement (fermentation prevents the fats from oxidizing and keeps them healthful) is one quick way to start reducing inflammation levels.

  1. Ignoring potential red flags

Irregular or absent periods, acne, facial hair growth, and difficulty losing weight are all potential symptoms of PCOS. But it’s important when you’re looking for the underlying causes of PCOS to pay attention to other symptoms you experience. Do you have good digestive health? Are you chronically cold? Do you suffer from chronic headaches? Any symptom you experience in your body could help point to underlying causes.

If you’re looking for help on your journey with PCOS – and want to do things like pay attention to red flags, and avoid all the mistakes these women have, I can help you. There are countless posts on my blog about various things concerning PCOS. You can catch a list of the most popular ones at the page labeled PCOS.

You can also, if you’re ready to get serious about healing (did I tell you I overcame PCOS in 6 weeks once I finally figured out what my underlying problem was?), check out my totally risk free program for overcoming PCOS: PCOS Unlocked: The Manual.

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

One Thing All Women With PCOS Need

One Thing All Women With PCOS Need

If you’ve done any searching on my website you have probably learned a lot about your PCOS and how to try to heal its many underlying causes and symptoms.

You may have even purchased my helpful e-book, PCOS Unlocked (find it here).

But I have a fear for you, my readers, that I feel its important to point out.

You need a doctor.

Here me out, because I know that in the natural health world, it’s pretty common practice to think you’ve got all the tools at your fingertips, that food is your medicine, and you don’t need anything else.

That given time, your body will heal itself.

Maybe.

I don’t mean to be pessimistic, of course.  I DO believe that food is medicine and that there is much that can be done for PCOS with nutrition and lifestyle alone.

But that doesn’t mean that those who follow those nutritional rules to the letter will succeed in eliminating the condition.

And MOST importantly, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to be followed by a medical professional.

This has been on my mind lately with the diagnosis of endometrial cancer in a friend.

She did everything right, watched her diet, did her exercise, went off birth control pills.

But her periods didn’t normalize and she didn’t see a doctor and eventually, because she was not ovulating, the lining of her uterus became too thick, turned into complex hyperplasia with atypia and eventually developed into early stage cancer.

It’s rare, it’s absolutely uncommon in a woman her age, but according to many doctors, it’s becoming more and more common.

Endometrial cancer used to be considered a cancer of older women, something that would occur during menopause.

But more and more women with PCOS are suffering from it.

There is no ideal situation here.  It sucks any way you look at it.

Because what she should have done is gone to her doctor when she didn’t menstruate and the doctor would have prescribed a progesterone pill to induce her to menstruate.

There’s potential issues with those progesterone pills, sure, just like with anything prescribed.

But.

It would have prevented cancer.

So I’m asking you ladies, you know who you are, the ones who are sick of ill-informed doctors and being told to go on birth control.  

The ones who are tired of being judged for their weight.  

The ones who are sick of the old advice to just lose “10%”.  

The ones who are looking to natural health to fill the void of medicine.

I’m asking you to please keep them both.

Do the natural thing, absolutely.

But don’t neglect those important screenings- vaginal ultrasounds and sometimes, endometrial biopsies, that are vital to knowing the state of one’s health.

No matter what we do with our diet, some of us are just going to be facing a higher wall than others and we have to be cautious and careful in that climb.

Here’s some of the things that make that wall so high:

  • Having to eat conventional meat with antibiotics and hormones.  If you can afford to do so, we recommend meat from Butcher Box (find more info here), or any grass-fed, pastured meat because it is healthier.  At the very least, go organic if you can.
  • BPA in the environment, the water, and basically everywhere.  You can cut some of the BPA you take in by using BPA free products like these, but you can never eliminate it all.
  • Being more prone to craving sweets and sugar, even though they are much worse for your health when you have insulin issues and having hyperinsulinemia, which most women with PCOS do, in which you produce excessive insulin in relation to the food you eat.  There are several supplements that can increase insulin sensitivity like L-carnitine (find more information here), inositol (find it here), and others, but none can fully solve the underlying problem. 
  • Being overweight and inflamed or being normal weight and inflamed.  Carrying excess weight in the stomach produces inflammation, no way around it, and that inflammation harms the whole body.
  • Having poor gut health, bowel irregularities, or digestive illness.  Here’s my post about having a healthy gut.

That means trying our best, but also listening to the advice of a good doctor.  It’s a TEAM effort.

My friend found a wonderful OBGYN who is super knowledgeable and informed, but there are great reproductive endocrinologists and even primary care providers out there.

By all means, shop around!  Find a doctor that stays up to date on PCOS research, that specializes in PCOS, or at least one who recognizes the important role diet plays in insulin sensitivity.

Find a doctor you are comfortable with, who doesn’t think all supplements and nutrition advice is quack science, and who supports your goals.

But find a doctor.

And see them regularly.

And face your PCOS head on.

The last thing you want to do is bury your head in the sand by eating paleo and thinking everything will just work itself out.

That may happen, but please, don’t take the risk.

Have you learned this valuable lesson?  I’d love to hear your stories.  

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

The Microbiome, Pregnancy, and Children

The Microbiome, Pregnancy, and Children

We already know how important the gut is to the health and functioning of the body.  (Find my article A Healthy Gut in 4 Steps: This Week In Paleo here)

But did you know that the gut doesn’t just determine the health of our digestion or immune system but even the health of our brains and our offspring?

In fact, evidence is mounting that the microbiome (that collection of bacteria, fungi, and other creatures who colonize the colon, skin, etc) may determine whether you suffer from anxiety, depression, and may play a role in the development of autism in young children, among other things.

If you are pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant, or have a young child, these are important things you should know. 

The Microbiome and Pregnancy

Before birth, the mother’s microbiome actually changes to produce extra lactobacillus (which helps the baby digest milk) as well as several other bacteria that give the infant an important start in the world, helping with their immune systems and digestion, as well as several other things.

These bacteria coat the vaginal wall in preparation for the infant’s trip through the birth canal.

However,  some mothers are placed on antibiotics while pregnant.  They are sometimes important but these broad spectrum antibiotics destroy both negative and positive bacteria, meaning fewer bacteria overall for the baby.

It is wise to seek a doctor with a well-rounded view and respect for the microbiome, one who is careful with prescriptions of antibiotics, especially during pregnancy.

The Journey of Birth

When it comes time to give birth, the journey through the birth canal is one of the most important moments for the microbiological quantity and quality of an infant.

That trip through the birth canal is vitally important for a new baby.  The microbiome of the vaginal wall infiltrates the babies mouth, eyes, ears, and gets into every mucous membrane, rapidly providing the important first colonization.

However, many babies are now born via cesarean section and therefore are not colonized by the bacteria on the vaginal wall, but rather by the skin of whoever they first spend time touching.  This is significant because the microbiota of the skin is different than what is present in a healthy gut.  

If C-sections are necessary (and they often are, though the medical community is beginning to admit they have historically been overused for many reasons) then many women are requesting or performing vaginal swabs to the mucous membranes of infants just after birth so that the infants can be colonized by the mother’s microbiome.

It might sound weird, but this could prove to be a vitally important procedure for the health, immune system, and psychology of children.

Since pregnant women spend nine months building this special colony for their baby, it’s a shame not to be able to pass it on, and may one day be shown to be quite damaging to the infant.  

Early Childhood

The first three years of life are vitally important for development of a child, especially their microbiome but many children experience ear infections early in life, or other issues which may be prescribed antibiotics.  

Studies on rats have shown that those kept sterile or “germ-free” develop social anxiety, even autistic-like features, as well as a penchant towards obesity and other diseases.

Not only that, but with animals from conventional farms being fed antibiotics to both prevent illness and promote fat storage, we are all are inadvertently consuming antibiotics through food when we eat conventional meat.  

Though there are times when antibiotics are necessary and can be lifesaving, it is generally agreed upon that they have been historically overused, often with little to no benefit and, it is being discovered, more and more detriment. In many cases, the condition would go away in time and may not even be a bacterial infection.

According to many medical professionals, it is often difficult to discern whether an issue is bacterial or a virus.  Because many doctors receive pressure from patients for relief or are determined to “cover their bases”, antibiotics have been overprescribed.  Pair that with the overuse of germ-killing products like hand sanitizer and it’s clear why there has been such a rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria, which can be deadly.

Probiotics

Most of us were probably placed on antibiotics at some point which threw our microbiome out of whack.  

And it’s important for us to work with the best information and knowledge we have to try to put a healthy gut back together. 

As adults, early childhood issues of the microbiome promote a range of conditions including obesity, diabetes, and associated illnesses, as well as diseases of the gut like Chron’s, and autoimmune conditions, allergies, and the like.

Psychologically there is growing evidence that an affected microbiome can stimulate anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

In several studies, as well as my work anecdotally, probiotics do seem to help many people improve mood, digestion, and symptoms of illnesses and conditions like irritable bowl syndrome. 

For those with depression and anxiety, I think it makes sense to take a probiotic and for anyone- children and adults- who have had to use rounds of antibiotics, I think it is valuable to take a probiotic.

The probiotics used in most supplements are those with heavy research backing their efficacy.  It’s hard to know just how much bacteria actually gets through the stomach acid with these probiotics, but several have special coatings to hopefully help them reach the colon intact.

I particularly like this probiotic for adults (find it here).  Though it has fewer colonies, it is supposed to be more effective, remaining intact through the stomach and small intestine so that it can reach the colon.

This is a probiotic recommended for children (find it here).  As with anything with kids, please make sure you get your doctor’s OK before giving these to your child.

Remember that a healthy diet is vital for the health of the gut as well.  As much as I’d love it, we can’t just take a supplement and be done with it.

If you’ve had success with probiotic therapy, I’d love to hear from you!  Which ones have worked for you?  Which haven’t?  And what have you done to improve your microbiome?

 

 

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

Is weight loss harder the older you get?

Is weight loss harder the older you get?

Does it get harder to lose weight the older you get?

For many women who have already reached this point in their lives, the answer is an obvious YES.

Yet the question still remains of why this is the case, and if it is absolutely necessary. What is the science behind it? Can you avoid weight gain? How much of a challenge is it to keep the same shape and weight as before?

As it turns out, the answer is a bit unfortunate. There are real biological events that happen in your body as you age – particularly as a woman – that naturally lead to weight gain. But, fortunately, the more we know about them, the more equipped we are to take counter measures.

Here are the 4 most important reasons women in menopause gain weight:

1. Estrogen regulates appetite and fat storage

Arguably the most important facet of weight gain in menopause is decreased estrogen levels.

Estrogen receptors are located all throughout a woman’s body. They are particularly concentrated in the brain. This is important, because studies have shown that one type of estrogen receptor–estrogen receptor alpha (the other type is estrogen receptor beta)–plays an important role in energy homeostasis. That is – estrogen regulates how much energy your body burns.

In 2007, in a series of animal experiments described at the 234th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, researchers demonstrated how important estrogen is to the regulation of food intake, energy expenditure, and body fat distribution.

Professor of Psychiatry Deborah H Clegg led a group of researchers investigating two ER-alpha rich portions of the brain. There is a part of the brain called the ventromedial nucleus. This area has been long recognized to play a role in energy regulation.

Clegg and her colleagues used a new laboratory technique called RNA interference. This enabled them to deactivate the ER-alpha receptors in the ventromedial nucleus (but not other parts of the brain) in rats. When they did so, the animal’s energy levels and metabolic rates plummeted. The animals also developed insulin regulation issues, an intolerance of glucose, and weight gain, even though their calorie intake remained the same. 

This is so important it bears repeating:

Without estrogen in the ventromedial nucleus, rats ate the same amount of food as normal but developed severe weight gain, glucose issues, and low energy. Without estrogen, keeping everything else the same, they gained weight.

Plus, their weight was not evenly distributed. Instead, it went directly to the visceral, or abdominal area of the body. This area is linked to a much higher rate of inflammation and disease than fat in other locations.

Lowering estrogen activity in the brain throughout menopause and after has the same effect on women: the body natural starts to burn less fat, and to keep storing it in places like the abdomen.

2. Estrogen and progesterone combat insulin and cortisol

As I discuss at length in my program for weight loss, Weight Loss Unlocked: The Paleo Woman’s Solution (check it out here) – estrogen and progesterone play important roles in modulating insulin sensitivity.

Importantly, estrogen helps make you more insulin sensitive. As estrogen levels drop in menopause, this can be a big problem for keeping fat storage to a minimum, and especially around the abdomen, where it can be a health concern.

Importantly, estrogen and progesterone also help modulate cortisol levels. When estrogen and progesterone levels fall during menopause, it’s entirely likely that over time, the body shifts toward storing fat when calories are high (as opposed to building muscle), and reduces the amount of fat burned when calories are low (and burn muscle instead). This is an effect both of reduced cortisol suppression as well as reduced insulin sensitivity.

3. Muscle mass deteriorates more quickly than it used to

Oxidative stress, inflammation, and inactivity are important reasons that muscle mass decreases as women age.

Yet estrogen is also quite important. Estrogen helps move calcium into bones and therefore supports a strong skeleton.

Estorgen also helps build muscle.

Now, this might not make a lot of sense, since body builders are always talking about the importance of testosterone. Yet even male body builders recognize the importance of estrogen. The body needs a certain amount of estrogen to maintain androgen (male sex hormone, like testosterone) receptors, which then go on to stimulate muscle growth. Furthermore, estrogen receptor beta appears to encourage muscle growth itself. The process of muscle loss while aging – called sarcopenia – has been shown to be slowed by estrogen treatments (and estrogen receptor beta activity) in rats. Interestingly, these muscle-stimulating affects occur in both male and female mice.

4. When exercising the body doesn’t burn as much fat as it used to

Unfortunately, due to declining muscle mass and insulin sensitivity both, it becomes harder for the body to burn calories during workouts.

This is unfortunate, but  also not without its solutions. Women who switch to high quality weight-bearing exercises (which you can find, or example, in Noelle’s amazing Strong from Home workout program) do maintain muscle mass, and therefore high quality, effective workouts. They just have to good about it. This is partly why I recommend Noelle’s program so highly – it helps you craft a fitness plan that is the perfect amount of cardio, weight training, and challenge for you. 

You can be sure that the more you focus on maintaining muscle mass, the more intense and beneficial your workouts will be.

What to do about it

As I just mentioned above, you can help preserve the efficacy of your workouts by choosing ones that focus on lifting heavy weights. You can get an awesome program designed just for this purpose with Noelle’s wonderful Strong from Home

You can also do everything you can to keep inflammation to a minimum. This will help keep your body from building up stress hormone levels and storing fat in your abdomen. This means eating a nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory diet full of organic vegetables and fruits, organ meats (here’s a supplement in case you do not like to eat liver), eggs, fermented foods (on this page are my favorites) and the rockstar superfood cod liver oil can go a long way.

Finally, you can work on supporting your estrogen levels. I do not recommend hormone replacement therapy. Sometimes, a small dose for a short period of time can work great as an interim fix. But  in the long term, it is probably best to focus on supporting estrogen with simple diet and lifestyle choices. You can do this getting plenty of high quality carbs (such as fruits and starches) and fats (such as olive oil and coconut oil) which can help boost estrogen production.

You may also be served by playing with your intake of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are estrogens found in plants. They occur in high doses in soy and flax, and in lower but still sometimes effective doses in legumes such as black beans and chick peas. For some people they hurt estrogen production, but for many women in menopause it can actually help. Start with a small dose, such as a bowl of chickpeas or hummus, once a day to see if it helps make a change.

I talk in more depth about the effect of hormones on weight maintenance in my manual for permanent weight loss for women, Weight Loss Unlocked: The Paleo Woman’s SolutionIf you’re looking to find a way to keep losing weight as you age, this may be a great resource for you. Plus, it’s 100% risk free – you can try the plans without any hassle or risk. Check it out here.

Importantly, I personally have not gone through menopause! Everything I’ve shared here I’ve learned through research. Please if you have any comments or ideas or experiences share them below!

 

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

The Link Between L-Carnitine and PCOS

The Link Between L-Carnitine and PCOS

If you have PCOS, you’ve probably tried a number of things to help your health, and you probably have a number of concerns.

Women with PCOS are more likely to be overweight or obese, more likely to suffer metabolic disorders and insulin-related conditions, and, alongside the extra facial hair, irregular periods, and infertility, it’s a lot to take.

I care deeply about this condition and have worked in my own way to help those who have it for many years (see my PCOS program: PCOS Unlocked)

But the more prevalent PCOS becomes, the more research is done, and new things are coming out all the time!

I’m so excited to bring you this information on L-carnitine, a very special amino acid that can help women with PCOS lose weight naturally and feel more energetic.  

L-carnitine is a nootropic amino acid found typically in meat products and milk.

Nootropics are types of supplements (like adaptogens) that work with the brain to increase it’s efficiency.  

L-carnitine helps alleviate the effects of aging and disease on mitochondria, while increasing the mitochondria’s potential to burn fat.

For most people (i.e. those without PCOS) it is not a nutrient of concern and they synthesize an ample amount internally and from lysine and methionine in foods.  However, it has been found that women with PCOS are often deficient in L-carnitine, regardless of their diets.

L-carnitine improves insulin sensitivity and helps lower blood glucose, which is valuable for women with PCOS who are usually insulin resistant.  

This ability, plus the fact that PCOS women are often deficient in L-carnitine seem to make l-carnitine effective in promoting natural weight loss.  

It is also known to increase energy, lower ammonia, enhance energy during cancer treatment, improve exercise tolerance and energy in those with conditions like angina and congestive heart failure, and enhance sperm morphology, in case you were curious!

Although studies regarding weight loss with l-carnitine in general seem to find mixed benefit, studies which look at those deficient in l-carnitine or those with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome find it does help.

In fact, a recent study of PCOS only women found that compared to placebo, statistically significant weight loss occurred over 12 weeks with supplementation.

This is excellent news since it is no secret that PCOS women, with their hormone imbalances and insulin resistance typically struggle to maintain a healthy weight.  

Adverse effects are rare but can include gastrointestinal disturbance, body odor, and seizures.  I’ve heard from some women that it causes a “fishy” odor in the urine, which can be unpleasant.  It may possibly interact with anticoagulants and certain thyroid medications so, like with any supplement or diet, you should get the okay from your doctor.  

Typical doses in the studies that showed weight loss benefits ranged from 500-2,000 mg a day, with 2,000 mg. a day being what was used with PCOS women.

Though the evidence for this supplement in PCOS are somewhat new, there’s enough promise that I find it interesting for PCOS ladies looking for weight loss help.  
It’s not a magic pill, and a focus on healthy dietary habits is absolutely still vital for women the PCOS.

But, one of the cool things about L-carnitine is that it is best deposited into muscles in hyperinsulinemic states, or during times when insulin is high (which is almost all the time for most PCOS women).

That means those with insulin resistant conditions would see the most benefit from supplementation.

If you’re interested in trying L-carnintine, give it at least 12 weeks of supplementation.  This is one (find l-carnitine on amazon here) I particularly like because the pills are in 1000 mg amounts so you can just take 2 a day, with meals.  

Find L-carnitine on Amazon here. 

Do you take l-carnitine and has it helped you?  What supplements are part of your PCOS routine?

 

(Here’s the citation for that study, in case you want to check it out- 

Samimi, M., Jamilian, M., Afshar Ebrahimi, F., Rahimi, M., Tajbakhsh, B., & Asemi, Z. (2016). Oral carnitine supplementation reduces body weight and insulin resistance in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled trial. Clinical endocrinology.)

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