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Low carbing to improve fertility

(21 Posts)
HaPPy8 Fri 22-Nov-13 10:50:32

I have been advised by my fertility consultant to eat a low carb high protein diet as it has been shown to help people with fertility problems. I am not overweight so was surprised to be advised this but have googled it and there does seem to be lots to back this up, possibly because low carb eating can help with hormonal problems.

The problem is I am a big carb eater. But I'm desperate to be pregnant so I want to give this a try. I wondered if anyone else had tried this for similar reasons and had success?

Also, I wondered if anyone could recommend websites or give me ideas for meals. I already eat eggs for breakfast and will carry on doing that as they do fill me up. I'm a bit more stuck with lunch and dinner as I tend to eat sandwiches, potatoes, pasta, rice based dishes etc. Is there a good website for easy ideas for a new low-carber (doesn't have to be no-carb i don't think).

And any ideas to curb a sweet tooth? I'm terrible for chocolate and eat it everyday. I think i will have to go cold turkey on that one sad

Thanks for any help you can give me.

BerylsDailyKumquat Sat 23-Nov-13 10:48:54

You sound just like me!! I'm very interested to hear that your fertility expert is recommending low carb, I've been wanting to move towards this way of eating in the hope of improving my chances of conceiving, but I find it so hard as I love carbs and sweet treats, so really struggle when I attempt to cut down.

I'm thinking of re-reading a book called Potatoes Not Prozac, which gives a step by step programme to giving up sugar, & then reducing carbs. I've tried going cold turkey before and it just doesn't work for me.

A website I've found helpful is Mark's Daily Apple, worth a look if you haven't come across it before.

I'll be watching this thread with interest, hopefully more will come along who have actually succeeded in ditching the carbs...

RubySlippers77 Mon 25-Nov-13 00:04:11

Hi - I've just posted on another thread, but saw this one and thought I'd join! I need to lose about a stone and would far rather low-carb than try WW again. I know I can do it, I just need to be more organised.....

I have a sweet tooth too, but I'm hoping that the incentives of fitting into my clothes again plus a potential BFP will help! Although with Christmas on the horizon, it's very tricky - sigh.

If you want a kick start, try the 5 day bit at the beginning of the Harcombe diet. It's tough, and I sulked a lot at being deprived of my Diet Coke, but I did lose 5lbs and was told I was looking much thinner!

ChippingInLovesAutumn Mon 25-Nov-13 00:23:50

I started low carbing because I was diagnosed with diabetes and I didn't want to take metformin. It has enabled me to control my insulin levels through diet and insulin is a hormone - so I imagine it could well help with other hormones. My periods have changed, they are now a bit shorter and a bit lighter (which is good as they were getting very long & very heavy).

If you want lots of support, advice, encouragement etc you should join in BIWI's Bootcamps (and read the backthreads for ideas!) - one has just finished but there's always an ongoing chat thread smile It doesn't matter if you main goal isn't 'weight loss' smile There's also a recipe thread.

You might also get a lot out of reading 'Escape the Diet Trap' by John Briffa, it's easy to read but very informative and isn't only for those wanting to lose weight.

It is HARD the first few days for many people, but once your body is ketogenically adapted (burning fat first) and if you are eating well, it's easier/nicer/better than eating carbs - you don't have that roller coaster of highs & lows and no more 'craving food' smile

Good luck!

PS: Going low carb when you have a good reason is do-able, when you can focus on the end product (for me control of diabetes, for you improved fertility) rather than 'weight loss' it just seems somehow 'easier' (to me anyway). I am a non egg eating vegetarian too - so if I can go low carb, you can too grin (G&B 85% chocolate is low enough in carbs for a treat!)

decaffwithcream Mon 25-Nov-13 21:18:40

Thats very interesting as I was surprised to realise that PMT had disappeared after I started low carbing.

This blog is very good for low carb desserts. Very good in general for low carb stuff.

I made the low carb chocolate brownies this evening.

Then there are these low carb chocolates which look like a couple would kill any cravings.

Cream tastes very sweet while being low carb - I stir chopped or flaked nuts and cocoa powder into thick full fat yoghurt and add whipped cream on top for a sundae - a small one as its rich but very satisfying.

ChippingInLovesAutumn Mon 25-Nov-13 21:41:15

They look like nice links decaff smile

I think the key when you start low carbing is to do at least 2 weeks without any sugar at all - really cut the craving & start burning the fat. After that it's nice to have the odd low carb dessert etc but for me it was also about breaking the 'reward' or 'mental boost' of something sweet.

My PMT is much better too - I had got to the stage where I knew my period was due, simply because I wanted to rip heads off!! I still eat like a horse for 2 days, 2 days before my period is due (that's how I know it's due!) but I still eat low carb so no real damage!

BerylsDailyKumquat Tue 26-Nov-13 16:00:55

I've just watched a very interesting video from the website, where he interviews a fertility specialist who talks about the benefits of a low carb, high fat diet in improving fertility. Infact I've only just discovered that website and it has lots of good info on it.

I'm on my first day of LCHF today, and so far so good. I totally agree with the earlier comment that it's easier to stay motivated for a health reason, than for weight loss.

How is everyone else getting on with it?

RubySlippers77 Tue 26-Nov-13 18:40:54

Thank you decaff for the lovely links smile

I agree, cutting out sugar for a couple of weeks is a massive help. I've done it before but am finding it too tricky at this time of year; when I'm constantly being offered cakes, chocolates etc it helps me to not feel too deprived if I can have a couple of squares of dark chocolate! I think post-Christmas when everyone is battling the bulge it will get easier.....

Had a look at the website Beryl and checked out their top tips for losing weight; avoiding fruit and artificial sweeteners were in there, oh dear! I'm eating a couple of satsumas a day at the moment (again, helps me feel Christmassy without indulging too much!) and I do have a can or two of diet coke every day. Still, small steps eh? I'm only on day 2 after all!

ChippingInLovesAutumn Tue 26-Nov-13 23:03:57

Beryl I think one of the major factors in making it through the first part of going low carb is to eat whenever you are hungry, so long as it's low carb & no sugar - at first it can seem like you are eating all the time, but once you are fat burning that will stop - you just need to have faith smile I think a lot of people 'give up' because they're hungry and you don't need to be when you are low carbing.

Ruby - I had started to think that way too - sort of allowing myself to slip a bit as it's 'nearly Christmas' but then I realised it's still a month away and I can't do that to my bloods! It's another example of when it being a definite 'health' thing rather than a weight loss or might help with fertility etc helps. I would like to lose more weight by the NY as well though and in turn that helps because I seem to be able to maintain my bloods on a higher carb allowance than I can lose weight on - so I need to be 'stricter' to lose the weight - which in turn will help the insulin resistance and thus my blood levels.

Ruby - do you want Satsumas enough to ruin your low carbing efforts and maybe even put on weight? Low carbing (unlike calorie counting) is all or nothing - if you are eating the right food to be low carbing (fat/protein) then eating fruit (which is high in carbs) on top you will most likely gain weight because you are carb burning, not fat burning then the fat you eat will end up on your ass!

DearDinah Tue 26-Nov-13 23:09:56

I saw a nutritionist to improve my fertility & she put me on a no dairy, no sugar, no yeast diet, I stuck to it for 3 weeks then went on holiday & totally fell off the wagon!! It's so hard!
Was eating porridge for brekkie, no added sugar & made with almond milk, home made soups for lunch & tins of mackerel & lentil curry/veg casseroles/chillis for dinner (I'm veggie) it's so boring & I have NO ideas with recipes, just feel like I wasted a load of money going to see her & spent £100 on supplements! (Me = mug)

RubySlippers77 Wed 27-Nov-13 12:36:54

Sorry to hear the nutritionist wasn't useful for you, Dinah! Did you feel any better after the three weeks or just fed up and desperate for some cake?!

I agree by the way, being vege made it very monotonous for me! It's ok if you don't mind what you eat or don't mind your diet being 'samey' (sometimes it's easier, you don't have to think about it!) but I found it particularly difficult when eating out as so many vege choices have carbs to bulk them out.

I'm taking pre-conception vitamins & an extra B50 supplement from H&B, but all my blood tests have been fine, it's just for my peace of mind smile

BerylsDailyKumquat Wed 27-Nov-13 13:22:26

Well, after a full no sugar day yesterday, I woke up feeling a bit weak and shaky. I forced down some scrambled eggs - making ds's porridge was torturous, it smelt amazing! Than, against my better judgement, I went to my usual high energy exercise class! I made it through, but when I got home I just HAD to have a quick sugar fix (I'd tried a slice of cheese, it really wasn't cutting it!), so I had some Belvita Breakfast biscuits. I know, quite possibly the worst thing I could've eaten!

However, I think it needs to be a gradual change for me, this is so different to my usual way of eating, I think I'll have to expect some set-backs. I've also stumbled upon an interesting website called The Low Carb Mom, and from there I followed a link to a fertility diet recommended by Dr Michael Fox (who was the dr interviewed in the video I mentioned further up). He talks about a gradual easing-in over 10-14 days, at the end of which you should have totally excluded all grains, sugar, fruit and starches etc. He also advocates 1 cheat meal a week - reasoning that this will disrupt your blood sugar for approx 5 hours, once a week, instead of little mini cheats here and there which disrupt your blood sugar everytime you sneak something in - no mater how small.

I think the key is to not just give up altogether after a set back, but to keep in mind why we are trying to make these improvements to our diet, and get back on with it - finding ways to make it achievable for ourselves.

BerylsDailyKumquat Wed 27-Nov-13 13:26:25

Dinah you're not a mug - it's just really hard to stick with drastic changes. Are you going to give it another go?

BerylsDailyKumquat Wed 27-Nov-13 17:40:10

I've been giving this some thought this afternoon. I've dug out my copy of Potatoes Not Prozac (about sugar addiction - which I definitely suffer from!) and am going to follow her step-by-step approach, starting with 3 meals a day and no snacks. Once I've managed this, the next step is to include protein in every meal...there are 7 steps altogether.

I was thinking to myself that I wouldn't attempt a marathon after not exercising for years, so why do I think I can succeed in totally changing my eating habits overnight?! I know loads of people succeed with the cold turkey approach, but it's not something I think I can do at the moment.

SantiagoToots Wed 27-Nov-13 17:47:44

On mainland Europe, low-carbing is well known to aid fertility in that it regulates hormones.

RubySlippers77 Wed 27-Nov-13 18:31:46

Hi Beryl, I've ordered Potatoes not Prozac from the library, I'm sure it will be an interesting read! I've read another couple of books along the same lines - the Harcombe diet and the Juice Master diet say the same about sugar addiction - and whilst I do agree, it's very hard to believe that you can cut all sugar out of your diet forever. For example, I'm having veg-packed soups for lunch every day at the moment, but as they're the ready-made ones from Tesco/ Asda/ Sainsburys then I'm sure they have a bit of sugar in them.

You're right, Rome wasn't built in a day, I think we need to make sure that we can live with whatever changes we make before doing anything drastic!

DearDinah Wed 27-Nov-13 19:29:34

I should try again really after all the money I spent! Realised I said veggie, when I eat fish! (Fake veggie!) she said I needed to up my intake of oily fish for omega 3, flax seed is just horrid! Feel like Christmas is going to make it too difficult though, what does everyone else think? Booze in particular! Lol

decaffwithcream Thu 28-Nov-13 00:05:24

Full fat yoghurt can be like a creamy treat if you're struggling - some people stir cream or cinnamon into it. Lidl do a lovely one called eridanous in a blue and white bucket. I remember having it after meals in the initial stages of low carbing. The cravings do pass.

RubySlippers77 Sun 01-Dec-13 22:00:23

Aarrgghh! I'm finding low carbing very tricky at the moment sad I'm moving house in a couple of weeks and trying to eat up everything from the freezer, which isn't too bad, but it's so much easier to have some pitta breads with everything to bulk up meals. They're wholemeal but still.....

How is everyone else getting on? I've enjoyed low carbing before, maybe it will be easier after Christmas?!

TrucksAndDinosaurs Tue 17-Dec-13 03:40:41

I got pregnant within 3 months of starting low carb, aged 39, after 7 years using no contraception.

Good luck ;)

HaPPy8 Wed 18-Dec-13 09:14:54

Wow Trucks that is inspiring! Thank you everyone for your replies. I do find this way of eating tricky but my motivation to get pregnant means i will try anything. Its great to hear a positive story!

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