Written by:  Dr. Mark Severino, M.D., F.A.C.O.G.  

Medical Director


As I sit eating the last bit of my dinner and reading about a paper just presented at the national meeting of The American College of OB/GYN in New Orleans May 2013, I ponder the thought maybe I shouldn’t eat those last bit of mashed potatoes.

Eating a healthy diet low in carbohydrates is not just recommended for a healthy life style, it’s also shown that women under-going In-Vitro-Fertilization treatments had better quality eggs and embryos if their diet consisted of more protein and less carbohydrates.  The study, which was led by Reproductive Endocrinologist Jeffrey B. Russell, M.D. at the Delaware Institute of Reproductive Medicine found that a diet consisting of 25% or more protein and 40% or less carbohydrates had four times the pregnancy rate than women who ate less than 25% protein and more than 40% carbohydrates (whether before or during their In-Vitro-Fertilization cycle). Embryos of women that ate a diet which consisted of 60% carbohydrates and 10% protein were less healthy than those women with diets consisting of 25% or more protein and 40% or less carbohydrate ratio diet.  Dr. Russell said he decided to do the study because although having a high body mass index (BMI) has been shown to hurt fertility, he had also seen healthy, thin women whose eggs and embryos weren’t of good quality for a healthy pregnancy. He wondered why and decided to ask these patients to log what they ate and how much. After looking at the food logs the women kept during their IVF attempt, Dr. Russell was surprised to see that the daily diets of some of the women were more than 60 percent carbohydrate and 10 percent or less protein. “Protein is essential for good-quality embryos and better egg quality, it turns out,” said Dr. Russell, in a statement released about the study.

In Summary, I would recommend keeping a food diary when going through IVF.  Try and stick to a diet of 25% or more of protein and 40% or less of carbohydrates.  Starting this diet at least 2-3 months prior to IVF will also help your body have enough time to create healthier embryos when it comes time for retrieval.  This will give you a greater chance for a successful, full –term pregnancy.  Low fat protein such as chicken and fish are excellent sources of protein, but do not forget that plant proteins like Quinoa, beans, and nuts are also excellent sources of protein as well.  Now, back to my dinner…but maybe not the mashed potatoes.




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