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Clin Sci (Lond). 2013 Nov;125(9):423-32. doi: 10.1042/CS20130071.

Effects of caloric intake timing on insulin resistance and hyperandrogenism in lean women with polycystic ovary syndrome.

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Diabetes Unit E. Wolfson Medical Center, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Holon 58100, Israel.


In women with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), hyperinsulinaemia stimulates ovarian cytochrome P450c17α activity that, in turn, stimulates ovarian androgen production. Our objective was to compare whether timed caloric intake differentially influences insulin resistance and hyperandrogenism in lean PCOS women. A total of 60 lean PCOS women [BMI (body mass index), 23.7±0.2 kg/m²] were randomized into two isocaloric (~1800 kcal; where 1 kcal≈4.184 J) maintenance diets with different meal timing distribution: a BF (breakfast diet) (980 kcal breakfast, 640 kcal lunch and 190 kcal dinner) or a D (dinner diet) group (190 kcal breakfast, 640 kcal lunch and 980 kcal dinner) for 90 days. In the BF group, a significant decrease was observed in both AUC(glucose) (glucose area under the curve) and AUC(insulin) (insulin area under the curve) by 7 and 54% respectively. In the BF group, free testosterone decreased by 50% and SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin) increased by 105%. GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone)-stimulated peak serum 17OHP (17α-hydroxyprogesterone) decreased by 39%. No change in these parameters was observed in the D group. In addition, women in the BF group had an increased ovulation rate. In lean PCOS women, a high caloric intake at breakfast with reduced intake at dinner results in improved insulin sensitivity indices and reduced cytochrome P450c17α activity, which ameliorates hyperandrogenism and improves ovulation rate. Meal timing and distribution should be considered as a therapeutic option for women with PCOS.

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