Short-term meal replacements followed by dietary macronutrient restriction enhance weight loss in polycystic ovary syndrome

Lisa J. Moran, Manny Noakes, Peter M. Clifton, Gary A. Wittert, Gemma Williams, Robert J. Norman

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102 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common condition in women, improves with weight loss. Meal replacements in short-term weight loss and strategies for weight maintenance have not been investigated in PCOS. Objective: We compared in overweight women with PCOS the effects of meal replacements in short-term weight-loss and longer-term carbohydrate- or fat-restriction strategies on weight maintenance and improvements in reproductive and metabolic variables. Design: Overweight women with PCOS (n = 43; x- ± SD age: 32.1 ± 5.2 y; weight: 96.1 ± 18.4 kg) followed an 8-wk weight-loss regimen (2 meal replacements/d, 4904.4 ± 127 kJ; phase 1) and then a 6-mo weight-maintenance carbohydrate- (<120 g/d) or fat- (<50 g/d) restriction regimen (phase 2). Results: Thirty-four women completed phase 1, and 23 women completed phase 2; the proportion of dropouts was similar in the 2 groups. During phase 1, significant (P < 0.05) reductions in weight (5.6 ± 2.4 kg), waist circumference (6.1 ± 2.5 cm), body fat (4.1 ± 2.2 kg), insulin (2.8 ± 1.1 mU/L), total testosterone (0.3 ± 0.7 nmol/L), and free androgen index (3.1 ± 4.6) occurred; these changes were sustained during phase 2. No significant differences between diet groups were seen for any variables. At 6 mo, both approaches resulted in a net weight loss of 4.7 ± 4.6 kg. Improvements in menstrual cyclicity occurred for 16 (57.1%) of 28 subjects. Conclusions: Meal replacements are an effective strategy for the short-term management of PCOS. Advice on moderate fat or carbohydrate restriction was equally effective in maintaining weight reduction and improving reproductive and metabolic variables.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-87
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Glycemic index
  • Meal replacement
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Weight loss
  • Weight maintenance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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