I often run into people that ask or assume whether I eat carbs or not. Just because I eat a Paleo/GF and sometime a strict Paleo diet doesn’t mean that I don’t eat carbs. We’ll take it back to the basics for a little bit and talk through what carbohydrates are, why we should eat them, and so on.
What is a carbohydrate?
Carbohydrates have 2 forms: sugar (like naturally occurring sugars things like fruit or milk, and added sugars or sweeteners), and starches (like starchy vegetables, beans, and grains, etc.). The body breaks down most carbs into sugar, which is absorbed into the bloodstream. As glucose levels rise, the pancreas releases insulin. Insulin is needed to move sugar from the blood into the cells. The 3 main things that insulin does is:
- it helps muscle, fat, and liver cells absorb glucose from the bloodstream, lowering blood glucose levels
- it stimulates the liver and muscle tissue to store excess glucose
- it lowers blood glucose levels by reducing glucose production in the liver.
If you have PCOS and are insulin resistant, what is happening in your body is that your muscles, fat, and liver are resistant to normal levels of insulin so you have to produce more of it for glucose to enter your cells. It’s also helpful to keep in mind that insulin is a growth hormone so it promotes weight gain, which is why many of us with PCOS have issues with weight. This is why diet is one of the most important ways to manage PCOS. If the amount and the quality of the carbohydrates consumed are limited to more healthy options, you’ll be good as gold.
Next up, we’ll look into the different types of carbohydrates and which ones are the best options for managing PCOS.