Are your sugar cravings telling you something about your fertility?

Mar 27 | Fertility | 1928 Views
insulin resistance

What does sugar cravings have to do with fertility?

The truth is sugar can have a huge impact on all areas of our health, especially our hormones. Craving sugar can also give us some insight into what might be potentially going on hormonally that may be causing some trouble conceiving.

Insulin is a hormone in our body responsible for helping glucose enter our cells for fuel. We need this response to happen efficiently after meals so that we aren’t left with a whole bunch of glucose floating around causing problems.


If our cells stop responding to this insulin signal, we call this insulin resistance.


Insulin resistance can be genetic or happen with age, but it there are also some lifestyle choices that may be putting you at a greater risk of insulin resistance. Things like excess weight, smoking, poor sleep, high stress, food choices, or lack of exercise can all lead to developing insulin resistance.


As your body stops responding, it also starts to try and “fix the situation”. If the cells can’t take in glucose – your body won’t have access to its main fuel source. It will then signal up to the brain that more fuel, or glucose, is needed.


Hence sugar cravings.


Sugar and carbs are the quickest way to glucose for our body to use. So if your cells need fuel NOW, your body is smart. It’s going to take the path of least resistance to get you more fuel now. The problem here is, with insulin resistance, more glucose does not equal more glucose in the cells – because your cells aren’t doing their job properly.


So more glucose in means more glucose in the bloodstream. Your body won’t let that just float around forever, so it demands more insulin to be released from your pancreas to try and deal with the extra glucose. It also starts storing that glucose as fat.


So now you have 3 problems.


  1. You’re insulin resistant, so there’s poor communication going on in your cells.
  2. Your body releases MORE insulin to try and fix the problem, leading to MORE glucose being demanded
  3. Your body starts storing glucose as fat


You may recall, I said earlier that excess weight is a risk factor for insulin resistance. Now, insulin resistance can cause excess weight. It’s a vicious rollercoaster ride that nobody wants to be on!


So what does this have to do with fertility?


  1. Having excess insulin floating around can start to impact your sex hormones. High insulin tells your ovaries to produce more testosterone. Too much testosterone can negatively impact ovulation.
  2. Elevated insulin and testosterone turn down the signals from your pituitary that help to mature follicles. If your FSH, follicle stimulating hormone, isn’t doing its job your ovary may never select a dominant follicle. An immature follicle may be released that can’t be fertilized. Or you may start to form cysts on your ovaries instead of actually ovulating.
  3. High insulin also leads to more weight gain, especially around the abdomen. Having a high body mass index has been linked to poor fertility outcomes.
  4. High insulin is also going to make you crave more sugar. Diets high in sugar and processed foods are not conducive to optimal fertility.


First things first, assessing for insulin resistance is an important step in fertility care. You will want to have your fasting insulin and fasting blood sugar done.


Secondly, treating insulin resistance depends on how resistance are you.


Some recommendations we often make are:


  1. Reducing sugar and carbohydrates in the diet. Aiming for 60-80g of carbs per day, mostly coming from starchy veggies and then 1-2 servings of whole grains per day.
  2. No more than 35g of sugar per day, this includes natural sugars and fruit. 35g per day is very generous, so trying to get the majority of your sugar from low glycemic fruits, such as cherries, sour apples, and berries, and maybe a bit of sweetness from pure maple syrup or honey.
  3. Exercise regularly. Moving your body actually helps improve your cells sensitivity to insulin. A 20 minute walk 5-6 days a week, or a 1 hour yoga class 2-3 days per week can do wonders on your insulin levels.
  4. Herbs and supplements when necessary. After having your lab values assessed a licensed practitioner can make individualized recommendations for you in terms of natural ways to lower your insulin.


If you’ve been struggling to get pregnant, but also are dealing with stubborn weight gain, especially around the middle, sugar cravings, fatigue, or brain fog, these might be all signs pointing to insulin resistance.


Reach out to one of our virtual practitioners today by booking your free 20-minute discovery call here.