Ask Heidi Anything: PCOS and Carb Cycling

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Do you or someone you know suffer from PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)? I address the question Chris Powell and I so often receive as to whether or not carb cycling works for those diagnosed with PCOS in this week’s Ask Heidi Anything.

Watch the video to hear my answer. Learn more about carb cycling here.

This video contains general information. You should always discuss dietary and exercise plans with your individual health care provider before beginning a new program.


72 Comments

  1. Bob - October 25, 2014

    I’m new to this, so just making sure. I don’t go below 1500 calories, but there’s no calorie max? I guess I follow 5 meals and my portion sizes. Is there a sample meal plan so I can get a better visual?

    • Team Powell - October 25, 2014

      On low carb days you’ll eat 1500 calories, and on high carb days you’ll eat 2000. For women, it’s 1200 for low carb days and 1500 for high carb days. Here are some meal ideas for low and high carb days (all recipes are from Chris and Heidi’s books: “Choose to Lose” and “Choose More, Lose More for Life.”). Low carb day: Breakfast (within 30 minutes of waking): Basic Omelet with a corn tortilla to make it a wrap.
      Snack (3 hours later): A protein shake with a portion of a healthy fat, like peanut butter, mixed in. Lunch (3 hours later): Tomato Basil and Garlic Chicken with a portion of olive oil drizzled on top. Snack (3 hours later): Sonora Cottage Cheese with a portion of avocado.
      Dinner: (3 hours later): Lemon Chicken drizzled with salad dressing. High carb day: Breakfast (within 30 minutes of waking): Denver Omelet with a portion of your favorite fruit or oatmeal on the side. Snack (3 hours later): Greek Yogurt Parfait with a portion of low fat granola. Lunch: (3 hours later): Caribbean Jerk Chicken with a portion of brown rice. Snack (3 hours later): Protein shake with a portion of oatmeal mixed in. Dinner (3 hours later): Apple Cider Chicken. And remember, you can have veggies (the non-root/non-starchy type) with every single meal, and you can use any of the foods on Chris and Heidi’s approved foods list – in the proper proportions – to create meals to fit your needs. And there’s an awesome graphic in this post (as well as some other great info) that might help: http://heidipowell.net/4514/carb-confusion/. Happy carb cycling!

  2. Cecília Mendonça - October 10, 2014

    Hi Heidi!
    I’m Cecília from Portugal.
    My husband is tipe1 diabetic and we are reading Chris’ book: «Choose to Lose: The 7-Day Carb Cycle Solution » and we’re not sure how the high and low carb days will affect him and his insulin intake control. Any suggestion?
    THank you so much. 🙂

  3. Missi - May 7, 2014

    I have been doing carb cycling for about 7 weeks now and I am down about 15lbs. I am doing pretty good with it but here is my big question, I always check my weight at the beginning of the week and then my weigh in day is on Friday. When I weigh at the beginning of the week I am usually up anywhere from 5 to 10lbs. I guess I just don’t understand that part of the process. Can you explain this to me or am I doing something wrong to cause this? Thank you!

    • admin - May 7, 2014

      If you are carb cycling you should weigh in on the morning of a high carb day, after the most number of low carb days possible. Carbs and your guilt free day will give you a temporary water/sodium induced weight gain. Your truest weight will be on Day 6 if doing the Turbo Cycle and Classic Cycle.

  4. Deb - January 26, 2014

    I have hypothyroidism, for many years now. I cannot lose, would carb cycling work?

    • admin - January 27, 2014

      Take the plan to your doctor and work together! They can help modify for your individual needs.

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  6. JD - November 5, 2013

    I have tried lots of things in the past, always with my best health in mind, to try and combat insulin resistance. (Brought on by years of disordered eating.) Recently diagnosed pcos (I’m 33), I have acne, slight hair loss, fatigue, and irregular cycles. I am relatively thin, but can tell a difference when I try to add carbs back into my diet. It’s just a big fat “no” for me. I stick to lean meats, green veggies, and healthy fats (and some dark chocolate, no way I’m giving that up!) and it is working for me. That said, I do enjoy pizza or french fries during my once a week cheat meal. Otherwise I might be insane by now. 🙂

  7. Sarah - September 9, 2013

    good to know as a PCOS woman 🙂

  8. Brittany - September 6, 2013

    I have PCOS and have actually had great improvement in symptoms as I loose weight with carb cycling. Is it the weight lose or the carb cycling, chicken or the egg, either way I feel great!

  9. Kathy Brown - August 21, 2013

    All of my life I have struggled with weight. I was made fun of In school and when I woulf go to a relatives home they would call me fatty. When I turned seventeen I went on a very strict diet and would work out when I would drink a glass of water. I wanted to loose weight and find the man of my dreams. I went from a size 22 to a size 12 and I was proud of myself. I felt like I was a new person. Like I could do anything. I met the man of my dreams and after 5 years of dating we were married. This year right before our 11 year anniversary he called and said he wasn’t coming home that he hadet someone new. I was devastated and blamed myself because I allowed myself to get comfortable. I gained all the weight I had lost back. I have Pcos syndrome which makes it hard to loose weight. I always wanted a child and when I was diagnosed with this I was devastated and started eating more. When I lost my husband to this other woman I also lost my job that I had for 17 years due to a store closing and I lost my home. I was going to make my dreams come true in filming a sundance film. Then all of this happened and my life stopped. Here I am I months later and I have lost 30 pounds and its like I am stuck. I can’t seem to get pass 277. My friends are getting married in march and I want to aww everyone with all the weight I have lost. I have a dress I want to wear and I need to loose 144 pounds by then. Please help me. I don’t want to be on the show, however I love your husbands show. I would just like to know what I can do to loose the weight I need by march on a strict budget since I have lost my job and have a very tight budget when buying food and workout equipment. Any advice will be appreciated… thanks so much, Kathy Brown

  10. Anne debisschop - August 9, 2013

    Love the recipe. I am going to have to try this yum!

  11. Libby - August 9, 2013

    Thanks for addressing PCOS, Heidi! I was diagnosed with PCOS in my teens and still struggle with weightgain today. As much as I hate cutting my carbs, I realize its one of few things that actually “treat” PCOS. I’ve cycled in my life, cutting them out and losing weight/then “reintroducing”…and by “reintroducing” I mean “gorging myself on white pastas and breads.” Not so good. Apart from carb control, are there other more “natural” means of dealing with PCOS you’d recommend?

    • Kim - June 18, 2015

      Hi Libby,

      I know your comment is almost 2 years old now, but if you’re still looking for another resource, try pcos diva – on facebook or pcosdiva.com. She has helped me a lot. I’m going to be getting one of Chris Powell’s books and try carb cycling, while incorporating what I’ve learned from PCOS Diva. I think you’ll like her a lot!

  12. April - August 9, 2013

    Great information. After doing two low carb days this last week, I really see a difference in the way I feel and have no doubt that it also aids in this and other medical issues.

  13. Andrea - August 9, 2013

    I shared this blog with a girlfriend of mine who was just diagnose with PCOS. I hope she reads and enjoys!

  14. Tammy Pinkard - August 9, 2013

    Thank you for talking about PCOS. I was diagnosed a few years ago and never really given too much info at that time, but I started getting info on my own and can tell it is very frustrating and so many women are suffering alone. I have lost weight and still trying to lose more and it is hard to know what to do when it seems like your body is fighting everything you are doing.

  15. Katharine - August 8, 2013

    Thank you Heidi for posting this! I’m 24 and have suffered with PCOS since I was 13. I’m extremely overweight and have recently started my journey to weight loss – can’t wait to get your book and see what it has to offer!

  16. Rita - August 8, 2013

    This might be ignorant, but I don’t know what carb cycling is. I’m intrigued and will have to investigate.

  17. Tawny Montez - August 8, 2013

    Wow, so glad that I came across this post! I’m about to undergo some tests with my doctor & PCOS was something mentioned during my last visit. I honestly didn’t know that something like PCOS factors into carb cycling, I’m new to all this so I’m still figuring it out! lol Still great information, I now know what to share with my doctor. Thanks!

  18. Samantha - August 8, 2013

    It’s so crazy to see so many people with my symptoms and problems. I felt like I was alone. I am truly inspired and know its not an excuse anymore. I can and will be done…

  19. Shauna Delainey - August 8, 2013

    I never knew that what I eat could affect medical issues like PCOS. Gives me jope and motivation!

  20. Renea White - August 8, 2013

    Thank you so much for posting. I suffer from PCOS and any kind of advice or info is greatly appreciated! God bless!

  21. Bianca Schiavone - August 8, 2013

    Carb cycling is amazing and works. Love you guys. Thank you so much for all the info. I learn so much and appreciate it all.

  22. Kelsi - August 8, 2013

    So far so good with carb cycling and my PCOS. Feeling sluggish tonight, but a good nights sleep should help.

  23. Jennifer Dunn-Folkenroth - August 8, 2013

    I can relate. I had pcos and hypothyroid, lymphedema. I had the lapband 2 years ago and now I have acid reflux so I have to have revision surgery. I gained all I lost because I wasn’t eating enough or the right portions. My hormones are wacky since I had a radical hysterectomy after having women’s cancers twice. It’s a struggle. I work out a lot normally. I wish 20 years ago I knew what I know now. I HAVE to get in control!!!!! Thanks for these great posts!

  24. Melanie Davis - August 8, 2013

    As a PCOS sufferer, this is fantastic. I have struggled my entire life with weight management and weight loss. Thanks for sharing Heidi!

  25. Brandy McGrath - August 8, 2013

    Having PCOS myself, I’m actually getting ready to talk to my doctor about how we should proceed to start our family. Thank you for addressing this trying issue.

  26. Valerie Utley - August 8, 2013

    I have been on the fence about whether carb cycling was something that I could try and really commit to and this post is what finally convinced me! I have struggled with PCOS since high school and I’m glad that you took the time to talk about it! Thank you!

  27. Christina Price - August 8, 2013

    Between PCOS, blood pressure medication and hypothyroid…. ever since I had my daughter (6 1/2 years ago) I am struggling like crazy. Good to know it can work if you have PCOS.

  28. RaNae BeVier - August 8, 2013

    Hmmm I have never heard of carb cycling my curiosity is peaked.

  29. Andrea Brown - August 8, 2013

    I suffer from PCOS – I really appreciate this post!

  30. Georgia Sanborn - August 8, 2013

    Great video, going to definitely share with my friend that suffers from PCOS and is pre-diabetic!

  31. Angelia Evans - August 8, 2013

    I too have PCOS, Chris’s books are on my way shipped as we speak, can not wait to start!! Nervous, but hopeful that this is finally going to be the information that I have ALWAYS needed and wanted. Thank you so much for posting this article, and always thinking about how you can help others. You and Chris are amazing people. Keep doing what you are doing, you are CHANGING LIVES!!!

  32. admin - August 8, 2013

    You should show the food plan to his pediatrician and work with them. Show them the food list and program for approval.

  33. Heather Clevenger - August 8, 2013

    Hi Heidi,
    First congrats on the new baby coming soon. My husband and I want another baby too but I want to get my health and my weight under control first. Do you think Carb cycling is something that all my family can do together? Or should it just be for me? My husband is in great shape because of his job and my kids are 13, 11 and 7 and the only one I am just now starting to worry about is my 11yr old son the other two are great. He’s very active but his appetite is crazy, he’s always hungry no matter what I do. Any help is appreciated. Heather

  34. Kathleen - August 8, 2013

    Thank you for sharing this! So many women deal with PCOS and not many people discuss it and the problems that typically go along with it like insulin resistance and difficulty losing weight. I just started my first week of carb cycling Monday so I’m looking forward to my first weigh in Saturday =]

  35. Jackie Schecter - August 8, 2013

    Thank you so much for this. It is so hard to find good info in during when you have POCOS.

  36. Jennifer Needham - August 8, 2013

    I found out last year that I have PCOS and that I am insulin resistant. Thank you for answering the question of carb cycling and PCOS.

  37. Susan - August 8, 2013

    I was just diagnosed with PCOS a few months ago, and every little bit of information helps. I still find diet very frustrating as I try to learn to balance for what my body needs, while also learning to overcome some very destructive habits. Still learning…

  38. Katie - August 8, 2013

    Hi Heidi! You and your husband are such inspirations to me! I’ve lost 130lbs on my own and have been in a ridiculous plateau since January. I want to try this carb cycling out in hopes that it will help me get out of my plateau and get me to my goal weight!

  39. Solida - August 8, 2013

    I have this try carb cycling once I get back to the states. Sounds like a miracle if you put your mind and heart to it.

  40. Ashley - August 8, 2013

    Thank you for posting on PCOS! I was just diagnosed in March and am still learning about the disease.

  41. Lindsay - August 8, 2013

    I have PCOS and I am excited about trying the carb cycling. I’ve done WW for years but it’s so hard to maintain and I am not sure it fuels me enough being the athlete I am. I want to give it a try. I looked at it on Chris’s Website and am thinking about checking out his new book. I love how you two cover such broad topics and it’s not just about one type of person.

  42. Brenda - August 8, 2013

    I didn’t know that I had PCOS until after I had my three children and after gaining quite a bit of weight. I lost one of my tubes on account of cysts and experience quite a bit of pain various times of the month. Happy to know that I can lose weight with carb cycling. I’m hoping that it will also help with some of the symptoms.

  43. Beka - August 8, 2013

    I have PCOS and I don’t have the book yet but I am hoping to get it soon and I cant wait to see if it helps. Thanks

  44. Becca Gae - August 7, 2013

    I not only have PCOS (Stein-Leventhal syndrome) but also type 1 diabetes with a type 2 overlay (insulin resistance and obesity).
    Due to a chronic issue at times of Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) (which has been set off by starvation ketones caused by not enough carbs), I am UNable to do carb cycling. Due to my body requiring at a minimum of 60g of cho per day (not low carb but a medium – low carb diet).
    Not only do I have the above disorders, I also have hyperparathyroidism, hasimotos hypothyroidism, Graves disease, congenital hepatomegaly, congenital dialiated cardiomyopathy, Pulmonary stenosis, spina bifida occulta (the mildest form of spina bifida), Köbblingers syndrome type 2 (familiar hypolipodystrophy..Köbblingers), prematuraty of the lungs due to extreme early birth (10 weeks), localization-related (focal) (partial) epilepsy with complex partial seizures, with intractable epilepsy, Just to name a few (yeah mouth full)
    I started at at 323 on a 5’3″ frame with medium-large bones.. I have a 51% body fat vs 36% muscle ratio (so the BMI charts doe not work for me). I am currently at 263.2 and going down using the big old way of moderation and burning off more than you consume.
    My BMR is 1836 a day. I eat about 2000 calories (yes I eat more than I burn off by sitting). But at the gym I do 5-7 miles of running x 6 days, 60min Zumba 4x week, 60min Yoga 3x week, 60min Tai Chi 2x weeks, and 60min of Boot Camp 1x week in addition to weights (cardio and free weights) in addition to swimming and walking 15000-20000 steps per day.. (except for the last 3 weeks with knee surgery I have been doing upper body workouts on the free weights).

  45. Toni - August 6, 2013

    Hi Heidi. What do you do when you have adrenal fatigue and every time you exercise you gain weight, no matter what you eat? I dont know if I am eating too much, too little, no grains, I need help with this as I hear so many things and dont know what to do. I keep gaining and no one knows why.

  46. Stephanie Greer - July 27, 2013

    Hello

    I just bought your husband’s book Choose More, Lose More For Life and was wondering about some of the information provided. One the cycles it gives the amount of calories you should eat per day – is that number (for example 1200) before exercise or after? Additionally, I would like to use a food tracker to make sure I am within the calories I should be in on the plan I select (still deciding on the Classic or the Turbo), but the ones I have used in the past seem to have conflicting information. For example, I have used my fitness pal and if I look up spinach you get a bunch of different metrics for the same type of spinach. Do you recommend one that you feel is more accurate? Thanks for your time and hope to hear from you soon. Have a wonderful day!!

    Stephanie

  47. Laura - July 27, 2013

    Heidi, this advice was given to me by my OB/GYN to cut down carbs, omit white sugar and anything having sugar to limit or stop eating! I hesitantly started carb cycling, knowing I’ve tried many other ways to loose weight on my own, including weekly visits with a nutritionist, one of the “Weight Loss Centers” and many tries on my own. I got a message to one of my questions to Chris one night and he said “Buy the book!” So, I did. Meal planning 101 began in earnest, measuring and having all the right quantities in my frige for the meals throughout the day and week. Among other things, it was hard to come up with not only 3 but 5 meals. However, one week came and went and I lost 7lbs!!! I never felt “odd” or hungry, unsatisfied. Sometimes bloated with all the water- 1/2 my weight is A LOT of water!! But, now going into week 4 I’m 12 1/2 pounds lighter, and I enjoy that I have 3 weeks of past meals to look at and can pick from those menus (I made an Excel spreadsheet of my week & meals), made sure I continued my daily 4am workouts, and got in all my water. I am using the Classic Carb Cycling plan, and I REALLY enjoy my “special day” and knowing that day comes, but also knowing the next day I am back on my “cycle” helps. Thank you, thank Chris for bringing an idea, plan, whatever you want to call it, into the public eye. For me, with PCOS, it is working. I may end up using the Turbo method later if it gets hard..we’ll see. Thanks again!

  48. melvawil - July 26, 2013

    I want to start the program
    but I would like to know wat is in the ((Extreme transformation pack ,,,4 week supply))I would like to know watt exactly do you ship to me if I was to buy Extreme transformation thank you

  49. Alison - July 26, 2013

    I have PCOS and also a thyroid problem. My thyroid medication must be taken in the morning when I wake up, cannot be taken with food, and I have to wait an hour before eating. Everything I read about carb cycling stresses I must eat within 30 minutes of waking up. Since this isn’t possible, is it worth me still trying carb cycling since I can’t jump start each morning with food?

  50. Beth Moore - July 26, 2013

    Does carb cycling work for people with an under active thyroid? I just found out that I have a nodule on my thyroid, and I have been doing EVERYTHING to lose 20 pounds, bootcamps at my gym, eating a healthy diet, working out 8-10 times per week etc, and even though I have been doing this consistently for the past 3 months I’ve only lost 5 pounds. Wondering if carb cycling could actually work for me to get this last 15-20 pounds off. I’m so frustrated!

  51. Tricia P. - July 26, 2013

    Do you have any helps for ladies with endometriosis? Thanks!

  52. melanie - July 26, 2013

    Hi heidi. I wuld like to go on cycling carb but im a vegan… ive veen vegetarian almost all ky oife… im 31 and ive been vegan for a year. I was eating 3000 calorie of fruits per day recently and i gained weight because i used to undereat. I am about 175 lbs and i am active a lot. I am 5.7 feet tall. I wanna be at least 130 lbs pls help me

  53. Cheryl - July 26, 2013

    How can I carb cycle as a vegetarian who also recently gave up.dairy except egg whites

  54. Janine - July 26, 2013

    What is the ratio of carbs per meal? Also protein per meal? Both on the High and Low days? I want to get an idea before I buy the book.

  55. Lynda U - July 26, 2013

    (Men can also get PCOS, it’s a metabolic syndrome that can turn into diabetes!)
    And I totally agree that before you do any diet/health/exercising program, talk to your doctor and be informed of your current health situation. Never stop learning and improving your health. Invest in good health tools and use them! Also be honest about your health, the positive and negative things that affect it.
    *I HAD PCOS* until it changed to diabetes 2.* My doctor gave me the ultimatum…do insulin or change my diet. I cried because I saw a lifetime of checking blood glucose and taking insulin to “ward off” infertility, nerve-eye damage, arthritis, bladder/kidney issues, fatigue, weak immunity-autoimmune disorders, heart issues, strokes, potential cancer…That’s not living!
    I changed my diet and my eating habits…I allow myself 2 or 3 measured servings of complex carbs (whole grain bread/quinoa) a day. I eat vegetable/bean dishes (soup & salad); meat is a “condiment”. On average, I lose about 3 or 4 pounds a week on this meal plan.
    Now I’m trying to figure out how to improve my puny muscles – especially my arms and legs!
    Good luck & good health, everybody!

  56. Abby Fisher - July 26, 2013

    I have PCOS and regulate my cycle with the pill (I’m 49 so i am no longer dealing with fertility issues). Carb cycling is the only thing that has worked for me.

  57. Alysia - July 26, 2013

    I have PCOS( had to have everything removed and have no children), type 2 diabetes,Hypothyroid and gilberts disease,arthritis in left ankle and i just turned 37 and weigh 320, i have struggled my whole life with weight and hard time losing ,gone to drs and dietitians who never able to help since i have a sensitive stomach and allergic to all nuts and any foods that grow on trees, starting to give up so lost in what to do anymore

  58. Janine - July 26, 2013

    I know this isn’t on the topic of PCOS… but I was wondering is the carb cycle diet safe for a Diabetic?

    • admin - July 26, 2013

      Similar advice would apply, check with your doctor. Diabetics have to regulate carbs so it would depend on your individual circumstances. Show the plan to your doctor and they can help you adjust.

  59. Lena - July 26, 2013

    I am 5’1 215. I can exercise and do the carb cycle no problem! It’s what happens when I lose weight—-I panic!!!!!! I need help getting past the issues I have when I look sexy and attractive! I just celebrated 20 years with my husband and I am 38 with 2 grown children! I want my husband to feel proud of me, he loves me, and he is VERY sexy and I feel bad that I let myself go because I have fears! 🙁 so, the food got it! The exercise—Got it!!! The “curves” I HIDE IT!

  60. Tina B. - July 26, 2013

    I have PCOS. My doctor put me on a carb-cycling type of diet, I lost 40 lbs, and then got pregnant with my now 2.5 year old. I currently am in the middle of a 100 lb weight loss, but you (Heidi) and Chris keep me encouraged. I figure if someone can lose over 200 lbs without surgery, I can lose 70 more…. God bless you and your beautiful family!

  61. NAKIA - July 26, 2013

    Can you talk about the thyroid and trying to lose weight?

  62. J.Z. - July 26, 2013

    I have PCOS and this is the only plan that I have ever achieved success with! Yay Carb Cycling.

  63. admin - July 26, 2013

    You’d have to talk to your doctor.

  64. Melinda Kirkley - July 26, 2013

    I have PCOS, diabetes, lymphedema and an ankle I’ve had 3 surgeries on. I had to cut out white flour and sugar and in 4 months, I’ve lost almost 80 pounds. It was the absolute hardest thing I’ve ever done, but you know what? I feel so much better. I was 400 pounds. I am now 324. So, as the saying goes, if I can do it, anyone can.

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