PCOS and Intermittent Fasting: Is It the Right Approach to Improve PCOS Symptoms?

PCOS and Intermittent Fasting: Is It the Right Approach to Improve PCOS Symptoms?
Cordelia Tan

Cordelia Tan | Author

Cordelia Tan, is a passionate advocate for women's health and well-being. Known as Fasty's number one fan, she expertly blends Eastern and Western health practices, offering a holistic approach to diet and wellness. Her work focuses on empowering women with knowledge and practical strategies for a healthier life.

You’re here, meaning you are one of the 5% to 15% of females who suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome. It also means that you heard intermittent fasting (IF) can effectively alleviate PCOS symptoms. This raises one question: how does intermittent fasting help with PCOS? 

Keep on reading to learn how you can benefit from IF to alleviate PCOS symptoms and improve your overall health.

Impact of PCOS on Your Health

PCOS interferes with hormone balance by decreasing female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, while simultaneously increasing androgens (male hormones). Additionally, cells become less responsive to insulin, leading to high blood sugar levels. In consequence, this stimulates insulin production leading to hormonal imbalances and ovarian dysfunction.

How Intermittent Fasting Can Help PCOS?

The impact of intermittent fasting on PCOS involves the regulation of hormone levels, promoting the harmonization of vital physiological mechanisms. 

Practicing intermittent fasting with PCOS can aid with:

Weight Gain

One of the symptoms you are definitely aware of is how easy it is to gain weight and how difficult it is to lose it. Intermittent fasting helps with weight loss by creating a calorie deficit and promoting fat burning. Moreover, fasting requires you to follow a nutrient-rich diet, further potentializing weight loss. A convenient way to keep track of your weight loss during fasting is with the Fastic app, which monitors your daily calorie consumption. 

Insulin Regulation

PCOS takes a huge toll on the effectiveness of insulin sensitivity. Data suggests that 1 in 3 women with PCOS have impaired glucose tolerance. Fasting prompts the body to reach out to stored glucose and fats for energy, thereby enhancing insulin sensitivity and helping regulate glucose levels.

Hormonal Balance

The presence of high levels of male hormones, such as testosterone, can be lowered, meaning consequential PCOS symptoms like acne, irregular menstrual cycles, and excess hair growth can be diminished. 

Achieving hormonal balance through IF can potentially aid women with infertility problems caused by PCOS and increase the chances of conception.

Intermittent Fasting Plans for PCOS

The popularity of intermittent fasting has inspired plan variations that adapt to every individual’s needs, goals, and commitment level. Deciding which is the best intermittent fasting schedule for PCOS is up to every individual, there is no best one.

Let's go over the different types of fasting plans so you have a better idea of which one better aligns with your lifestyle and goals.


Time-restricted eating is the most common fasting method due to its versatility. TRE plans consist of, during a specific window during a 24-hour lapse, limiting the timing of your meals and fasting the rest of the day. There are multiple TRE options (e.g., 20:4, 18:6, 16:8, 14:10, 12:12). Unlike other IF plans, TRE does not focus on calorie intake, it looks more into the timing of your meals.

5:2 Method

Compared to TRE, the 5:2 method is slightly more intense because you have to go full days without food intake. You eat for five days and restrict your calorie intake for two days, (500-600 kcal) each day, they don’t have to be consecutive. The 5:2 fasting method requires more discipline due to the 24-hour fasting periods.

Modified Alternate Day Fasting

As its name suggests, you alternate fasting days with eating days. The positive side of this fasting plan is that there isn’t a strict calorie restriction like the 5:2 method. On eating days you can eat whatever you like and on fasting days you limit your calorie intake or suspend it entirely. The alternate-day fasting plan is ideal if you don’t want to alter your routine as much or spend time counting calories. 

Extended Fasting

Extended fasting is the most intense fasting regimen out there. Its name comes from the methodology of not eating for at least 24 hours and it can extend as long as a couple of weeks. Extended fasting is recommended if you have vast experience with other intermittent fasting methods.

Ideally, you want to choose a plan that accommodates to your daily routine, eating habits, goals, and medical condition. Intermittent fasting can be recommended to lessen PCOS symptoms, nonetheless, it is advised you consult with your healthcare professional before starting any type of fasting regimen. Your GP can better assess your medical condition and determine if intermittent fasting is a good approach to counteract your particular PCOS symptoms.

best intermittent fasting schedule for pcos

Can You Do Intermittent Fasting While Taking Metformin?

Women with PCOS may be advised by the GP to take metformin to treat insulin sensitivity. Metformin is used to manage type 2 diabetes because it works by reducing glucose production in the liver. Studies have demonstrated that metformin helps by increasing insulin sensitivity accompanied by decreasing insulin and androgen levels. Although taking metformin does not present a risk during fasting it is recommended you seek medical guidance if you are taking metformin to treat insulin resistance due to PCOS, and are considering fasting.

Getting Started with Intermittent Fasting for PCOS

Before starting any fasting regimen, ask your GP if fasting is adequate for your individual PCOS condition. Intermittent fasting may or may not be bad for easing PCOS symptoms depending on your medical background. Your doctor can help you choose which fasting plan is ideal. If on the other hand, it’s up to you, start with a lower-intensity plan with shorter fasting windows. 

The following are examples of low-intensity intermittent fasting plans for PCOS:

  • The 12:12 fasting plan allows you to accommodate the fasting hours during sleeping hours, an example is to fast from 7 PM to 7 AM.

  • The 14:10 fasting plan is a bit more challenging, but still adapts well to a regular eating and sleeping routine, for example, fasting for 14 hours from 8 PM to 10 AM.

Enhance Fasting Results with Lifestyle Modifications

During fasting, you cannot solely rely on the regimen to get results. Making lifestyle changes and starting new habits is indispensable. If you were planning on incorporating healthy lifestyle changes in your life, now is the moment. 

Balanced Nutrition

To see the results of your intermittent fasting efforts you must also compliment your fasting plan with nutrient-rich foods. To support your body through its fasting journey you should load your pantry with the following:

  • Leafy greens

  • Legumes

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Berries

  • Whole grains

  • Non-starchy vegetables

  • Fatty fish

  • Lean proteins

Physical Activity

Moreover, engaging in physical activity is recommended to maximize your body’s fasting efforts. Low to medium-intensity exercise is acceptable, where walking, yoga, cycling at a moderate pace, and mild resistance training are excellent options.

Sufficient Sleep

A good night's sleep is always necessary, especially when undergoing a practice that alters the body’s natural processes. Experts recommend sleeping between 7 and 9 hours per night. Furthermore, besides resting the body, sleeping can help ease the inevitable hunger cues that come with fasting.

Counteract PCOS Symptoms and Boost Overall Well-being

Whether you want to use intermittent fasting to lose weight, achieve hormonal balance, or improve your overall health, incorporating this intensive yet feasible approach into your lifestyle can potentially benefit your health altogether. Make your PCOS symptoms more manageable and take control of your health with the Fastic app.

Disclaimer: It is advised to speak with a health professional before beginning intermittent fasting or a diet program. There may be side effects for people with certain medical conditions.

With Fastic, millions of people have achieved their desired weight, overcome disease and regained their quality of life.

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