Breakfast: Kick Start Your Ovaries by guest expert Thalia Prum (APD)

1135_female_sex_iconGood nutrition plays an essential role in supporting your body’s reproductive system, so are your ovaries in check?! In this segment, Thalia Prum will walk us through a common infertility problem and share some insight on a simple habit that can improve ovulation and menstrual health. Over to you Thalia…

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): It’s bit of a mouthful yes, but believe it or not, fertility is linked to your diet. Oh, I almost forgot, the usual disclaimer for potentially blush-worthy words applies to this article: Words including ovulation, menstruation, sex hormones and ovaries will appear frequently.

First off, what’s PCOS? It is one of the most common causes of female infertility and prevents ovulation due to excessive production of sex hormones, called ‘androgens’. PCOS affects 6-10% of reproductive aged women. Over half of women with PCOS are obese (BMI >30).

Two major factors cause the noted overproduction of hormones: Insulin resistance and hyperinsulinaemia. Don’t freak out! I’ll explain: 

  • Insulin is the hormone that moves glucose (sugar) from your blood into your cells. Think of it as the ball boys at a tennis tournament who clear excess tennis balls from the court, allowing the game to continue
  • Insulin resistance means you require more ball boys to remove the same number of tennis balls as someone who is not insulin resistant
  • Hyperinsulinaemia is tied to insulin resistance as it refers to higher than expected levels of insulin (or ball boys) for a given amount of glucose (or balls… tennis balls that it)

Research shows overweight and obese women can improve factors related to PCOS through diet and weight loss. Weight loss, irrespective of diet composition (eg: high protein, low fat, low carb, etc) improves menstrual regularity and ovulation in women with PCOS. But what about lean women with PCOS? Weight loss is not a viable option for them.

Previous research shows that timing of meals, hormones and nutrients can effect metabolism, fat metabolism and fat storage. A new study investigated lean women with PCOS, where weight loss is not an appropriate treatment option. One group had a high calorie breakfast and low calorie dinner (BF group) and the other group had a low calorie breakfast and high calorie dinner (D group). Both groups had the same??????????????????????? number of calories for lunch. After 90 days the results showed:

  • Women in the BF group were significantly less insulin resistant
  • Women in the BF group had significantly lower levels of the sex hormones associated with irregular menstruation and ovulation
  • Almost 50% of women in the BF group had ovulated at least once during the study, compared to only 20% in the D group (these results were significant)
  • The D group did not show adverse insulin effects, their insulin resistance and other factors (like sex hormones) remained constant

This is exciting because it’s a simple, safe way for lean women with PCOS to improve factors like sex hormone levels and insulin resistance without medication. These factors, in turn improve menstrual cyclicity and ovulation.

So go on ladies, make breakfast really pack a nutritional and caloric punch to get those ovaries off to a great start.

For the full scoop on PCOS, diet and weight loss see here:      

Thalia Prum HeadshotAbout the Author:  Thalia Prum is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Nutritionist (APD and AN) who prides herself in being the ever witty, facetious, sarcastic, science quoting, ‘myth-busting dietitian’. In addition to writing, Thalia is available to speak about nutrition, health and wellness. Find her blog here: or connect on Facebook Pie Hole Blogger


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