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Fertility Q&A: Can I use whey protein powder if I have PCOS?

Fertility Q&A: Can I use whey protein powder if I have PCOS?

Fertility Q&A: Can I use whey protein powder if I have PCOS?It seems no matter who you ask about consuming dairy products, they are either all for it and can defend why, or completely against it and can also defend why. The health benefits, or lack thereof, of dairy are no stranger to debate and controversy. When it comes to naturally supporting fertility health, dairy and whey protein powder do not have to be avoided.

Organic, grass-fed, whole-fat, or ideally raw dairy is the best to choose as a part of a nutrient-dense Fertility Diet. For some however, dairy products – milk, yogurt and cheese – can be congesting and should be limited. Women with congesting fertility health issues like PCOS and endometriosis can aggravate their imbalance by consuming dairy. You may, however, be someone who can digest it well, so be sure to pay attention to how your body handles/reacts to it.

Part of the controversy surrounding dairy consumption is the added hormones fed to dairy cows which humans then consume through dairy products, as well as how dairy consumption may increase the human body’s production of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). This leads me to today’s Q&A.

Q: All dairy products (whether hormone-free or not) are supposed to be harmful for PCOS as it contains insulin growth factors… IGT… which causes an insulin surge. So, how is your whey any different? Even if it is grass-fed whey, it will contain insulin like growth factors or IGT as it is a dairy product. So since I have PCOS and I was thinking of purchasing your FertiliWhey, I wanted to know whether taking it will aggravate my problem?

A: It is true, whole dairy products are high in calories, nutrients, lactose and other sugars, which increase blood sugar and insulin. I think there is a slight misunderstanding of what insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) is.

IGF-1 is the hormone that impacts the growth of a cow’s calf. Likewise, in humans, IGF-1 may be why cow’s milk is touted as “bone-building”. IGF-1 is produced by the liver in response to increased blood glucose and insulin, but is responsible for stimulating cell growth, development and division (of both healthy and unhealthy cells).

Back to lactose and other sugars, approximately 30% of plain milk’s calories come from its natural sugar (lactose). This is what impacts insulin/blood sugar levels.

This being said, whey is but one isolated component of a whole dairy product. Research is finding that whey protein consumption prior to or along with meals high in quickly digested and absorbed carbohydrates may reduce the intensity of the blood sugar spike normally experienced after eating a meal high in carbohydrates. Studies have shown that adding whey protein to a meal high in carbohydrates stimulates the body to release insulin, which may reduce glucose concentrations after eating.

So, why FertiliWhey?

FertiliWhey is for all people, but especially those with…
– immune system dysfunction
– pregnant women
– insulin-resistant PCOS
– a need to/want to lose weight

Women with metabolic or insulin-resistant PCOS, or who have concerns about insulin levels while trying to conceive in the absence of PCOS, need to eat small meals throughout the day that have balanced portions of protein and carbohydrates. One way to balance a protein to carbohydrate ratio could be by supplementing once daily with whey protein powder.

FertiliWhey is not known to negatively impact those with PCOS. The focus when naturally supporting the body in managing PCOS needs to be on a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet. The majority of the diet should consist of a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits, and a smaller amount of healthy protein (FertiliWhey* is but one source), healthy fats, and whole grains.

I encourage you to empower yourself to make healthy food choices; we share more about them in our guide How to Reduce the Damaging Effects of PCOS on Fertility Through Diet and Herbs. This PCOS Fertility Diet Tip – Simple Food Choices to Stabilize Blood Sugar may offer helpful ideas of foods to include in a low-glycemic index diet at well.

What sets FertiliWhey apart from other whey protein powders?

The way it is gently processed at low temperatures to preserve and maintain the full range of immune-modulating components of fresh, raw milk is what sets FertiliWhey Protein Powder apart from others. FertiliWhey is made from the milk of pastured, grass-fed cows that is hormone treatment free – produced without the use of hormones or BGH to minimize human exposure to excess levels of IGF-1.

FertiliWhey is one of the most biologically active protein sources and is easy and quick to digest. It also contains important essential fatty acids, the full spectrum of necessary amino acids, and an important antioxidant glutathione (GSH) that aids the body in properly detoxifying the liver.

Whey is a protein-rich food. There are certainly many case studies that document both the benefits and the disadvantages of dairy consumption, but not many that dispute the efficacy of using whey, the isolate from whole dairy, as a protein source.

We all eat meals with carbohydrates in them. The reality is that the amount of carbohydrates is often drastically higher than the amount of protein in these meals. This may be fine from time to time for folks without diabetes; however, for those with diabetes, eating this way is harmful. Insulin injections are likely to be needed to assist the pancreas in countering the insulin spike caused by ingesting refined carbohydrates. Improving your diet in preparation for pregnancy is going to improve the overall outcome and helps to create healthy eating habits for pregnancy and beyond.

*The only contraindication for consuming FertiliWhey would be a dairy allergy. In that case, we would recommend an alternative protein source such as almond milk, hemp protein powder or hemp seeds.

If you are concerned, talk to your doctor about consuming a high-quality whey protein powder (that provides 16 grams of protein per serving) in a Fertility Smoothie daily about whether it is a safe and beneficial addition to a healthy whole food diet.

As the authors of one 2014 study published in Diabetologia share,

In summary, consumption of whey protein shortly before a high-glycemic index breakfast increased the early and late post-meal insulin secretion, improved GLP-1 responses and reduced post-meal blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetic patients… Whey protein may therefore represent a novel approach for enhancing glucose-lowering strategies in type 2 diabetes.


Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN

Dr. Traxler is a University-trained obstetrician/gynecologist, working with patients in Minnesota for over 20 years. She is a professional medical writer; having authored multiple books on pregnancy and childbirth; textbooks and coursework for medical students and other healthcare providers; and has written over 1000 articles on medical, health, and wellness topics.  Dr. Traxler attended the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences and University of Minnesota Medical School,  earning a degree in biochemistry with summa cum laude honors in 1981,  and receiving her Medical Doctorate degree (MD) in 1986.

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