Sitabethel’s PCOS Keto Diet: 135lbs of Weight Loss

Sitabethel PCOS Keto Diet Header

Going Vegetarian | Struggling with Plateau | Discovering Keto | Putting the Pieces Together | My Personal Advice

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Sharing my 135lbs weight loss journey

Hi PCOS Mag readers,

My name is Sitabethel. In 2018, at the age of 36, I was medically diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) after experiencing symptoms for several years. Despite working at a gym and having knowledge about weight training, losing weight seemed like a constant struggle for me.

However, through determination and experimenting with different diets, I managed to shed 135 pounds over time. 💪 In this blog post, I will share my journey, the challenges I faced, and how I found success with the keto diet while managing my PCOS symptoms.

Sitabethel

Here’s how Sitabethel lost 135lbs while following her PCOS keto diet plan

My drop from 310 to 250 pounds: going vegetarian

In my late twenties, before my PCOS diagnosis, I found myself tipping the scales at a daunting 310 pounds. The weight gain had taken its toll on my body and my self-esteem, prompting a burning desire for change. Determined to reclaim control over my health, I embarked on a journey to revamp my diet and exercise routine.

The first major milestone in my weight loss expedition was adopting a general blood sugar-friendly diet. Coupled with an intensified exercise regimen (after all, I am a fitness instructor), I made a conscious decision to embrace a vegetarian lifestyle. Farewell to fast food and processed meals, and welcome nutrient-rich vegetables! The result was promising, as I watched the numbers on the scale drop from a staggering 310 to a more manageable 250 pounds.

PCOS Mag - Sitabethel PCOS Keto Diet Vegetarian

Although being vegetarian felt better than eating fast food and processed meals all the time, as I got older, I’d feel shaky, ravenous, and emotional a lot. I eventually transitioned back to a standard diet, which was also easier to meal prep for. But thanks to my initial transition, my meals were now a lot healthier than before. Going vegetarian, if only temporarily, successfully taught me how to cook meals with vegetables and whole grains.

Struggling to break the plateau

For what felt like an eternity, I found myself trapped in a frustrating weight range of 220–250 pounds. I was still committed to lose more, so I decided to experiment with different approaches. Lowering my carbohydrate intake to 150 grams per day seemed promising, as it allowed me to reach 220 pounds. However, my progress would always come to a screeching halt.

“Fitness professionals around me blamed ‘starvation mode’ for my plateau. They insisted that my carbohydrate intake was too low, urging me to increase it. Despite this, every time I tried to raise my carbs (even while engaging in an intense exercise regimen and maintaining a calorie deficit), I would consistently gain weight.”

Reflecting now, I realize that there were other factors contributing to my struggles as well. My sleep hygiene was poor, with only four hours of nightly sleep and a two-hour nap in the afternoon. Additionally, I was following an extremely low-fat diet, consuming just 30 grams per day, oblivious to the impact it had on my hormonal health. Little did I know that these habits were taking a toll on my body long before my official PCOS diagnosis.

Discovering keto during COVID-19

PCOS Mag - Sitabethel PCOS Keto Diet COVID-19

When COVID-19 hit and the gyms closed down, I was miserable and back up to the 250s. A year before, I had been officially diagnosed with PCOS and subclinical hypothyroidism. The doctor had taken out my IUD and put me on – you guessed it – hormonal birth control pills. Because we all know how much those help…

During lockdown, I started reading PCOS studies for a distraction. I saw a pilot study of 21 people who did keto. Curiously, I read that 3 of the participants had to drop out because they managed to get pregnant after only a few weeks. I don’t want kids, but it was fascinating that this group of people who struggle with fertility suddenly had 3 women conceive!

Without anything better to do during a pandemic, I decided to try keto for a year. To my surprise, the math of calorie counting suddenly began to work in my favor! Embracing an active lifestyle, incorporating regular walks, and gradually reintroducing weight lifting into my routine, I diligently used a food scale to track my intake. The results were great – I started shedding five pounds per month, even allowing myself occasional maintenance weekends for a well-deserved break.

We’re unfortunately unable to find the exact article, but here are 2 other scientific studies on the effects of keto on people with PCOS:

Putting the PCOS, hyperthyroid, IBS and keto pieces together

While on keto, I reached a weight of 174lbs. That’s over 135lbs down from where I started! My journey took a brief, temporary turn when my subclinical hypothyroidism progressed to regular hypothyroidism, resulting in 6lbs weight gain. However, once I started medication, the weight gain stabilized.

I’ve experimented with a higher carb intake of 100 grams again, but always experience the return of various symptoms. I also find out that many of the symptoms which I had attributed to PCOS, such as debilitating cramps, nausea, bloating, and erratic scale fluctuations, were actually manifestations of IBS. Unintentionally, following a keto diet helped me avoid trigger foods, particularly those rich in Oligosaccharides and Disaccharides, which are key components of the FODMAP acronym. I tried sticking to rice and potatoes (low FODMAP carbs), but the potatoes caused the same symptoms. The rice made me so hungry that I couldn’t even stick to maintenance calories because I’d always over eat. And that’s fine with me – sticking to keto it is!

My personal advice

As I reflect on my journey, I hope that the things I’ve learned might also work for others. While exercise undeniably holds numerous benefits, it’s nutrition that played the most fundamental role in my weight management.

Rather than fixating on specific ratios that I found online, I now prefer to tailor my macronutrient targets to my individual needs. I personally use my height and weight as a guide. One of the challenges I do encounter is ensuring an adequate protein intake. However, I’ve found that reaching for ‘bro science’ levels of protein (😂) has had a profound impact on my well-being. 

Here’s what works for me:

  • Carbs: I aim for approximately 50 grams.
  • Protein: My range is between 160–180 grams (around 1 gram per pound of body weight, or start with 1 gram per lean pound of body weight).
  • Fat: Adjust your fat intake based on your goals. During a cut, strive for around 0.3 grams per pound or maintain it within the range of 50–70 grams. In my current maintenance phase, I consume about 100 grams of fat per day.

Remember, these recommendations are specific to my journey, and it’s important to personalize your approach according to your unique needs. I encourage you to seek guidance from healthcare professionals or registered dietitians, who can provide individualized advice.

Don’t give up! Small steps and consistent effort yield big results 💜

I’ve lost 135lbs in two main chucks. I worked at a gym, and while my licenses were for group fitness classes, I know enough about weight training (and keto) that if anyone has general questions, feel free to ask!

This post is about Sitabethel’s journey to lose 135lbs through PCOS keto!

Sitabethel profile picture

sitabethel

I’m a 41 year old non-binary with PCOS. In some ways, it’s an advantage. Shaving my face every morning is annoying, but I don’t have the desire to stuff myself into a box full of outdated beauty standards defining femininity.

However, I think all of us could benefit from destroying flat out wrong notions of “womanhood.” Sometimes, a woman has to shave her beard. Sometimes, a woman has to take spironolactone to lower her testosterone levels. Sometimes a woman can struggle with body image because society has crammed bad ideas about beauty down her throat her entire life, but whether that woman was assigned female at birth or not, it doesn’t really matter. You’re a lovely woman and hateful speech and ideology doesn’t change that. Please, please do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

I basically became an athlete because of PCOS. I taught Zumba for 10 years, jogged very slow half marathons, and did intense athletic conditioning programs with boxers. Unfortunately, while most people know you can’t outrun a bad diet, with PCOS it’s more like you can’t outrun a normal diet, and I spent literal decades trying to figure out what nutrition worked for me.

And although my career veered more toward the fitness industry, my original degree was for writing, and I’ve published several LGBTQ+ erotic romance novels. If you’re curious, you can find them at sitabethel.com or just search for Sita Bethel on Amazon, Smashwords, or most places online where you can shop for books.

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