Keto diet improved PCOS and NAFLD better than medical therapy

Ketogenic diet. Keto brunch. Boiled egg, pork steak and olives, cucumber, spinach, brie cheese, nuts and tomato.

A new study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology Research reports a ketogenic diet improves polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) symptoms and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) better than oral contraceptives.

This result provides more evidence that addressing the root cause of metabolic dysfunction can be more effective than medications used to treat symptoms.

The study enrolled 20 women with obesity, PCOS, and liver dysfunction and randomized them to either a ketogenic diet (5% to 10% energy from carbs and 18% to 27% from protein) or medical therapy.

The medical therapy group took a supplement for liver health (polyene phosphatidylcholine) along with oral contraceptive pills.

At 12 weeks, the ketogenic diet group had more significant improvements in weight loss (26 pounds or 12 kilos) and body fat percentage (from 40% down to 34%), as well as visceral fat and waist-to-height ratio compared to the control group.

Additionally, the keto diet group had more significant improvements in liver function and resolution of fatty liver by ultrasound.

Both groups showed similar improvements in hormone levels.

This study highlights the importance of treating the root cause of these conditions — namely underlying insulin resistance and metabolic dysfunction — rather than merely treating the symptoms with medications. A ketogenic diet targets the cause of insulin resistance, and that likely accounts for its success in improving PCOS and NAFLD,

These results lead us to ask, should a keto diet be the new standard of care for PCOS and liver dysfunction? That remains to be determined, but studies like this one make an excellent initial case for it.

If you are interested in getting started with a ketogenic diet, you can learn more in our ketogenic guide for beginners or by taking our 2-week Get Started Keto Challenge.

Thanks for reading,
Bret Scher MD FACC


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