Weight loss for fertility

If a male or female partner is overweight or obese and this couple is planning a child, they can face difficulties and increased health risks. Such medical disorders as obesity may implicate pregnancy and fetal development. 

But it is possible to turn things around. If you’re thinking about making a change, start with everyday habits, leading to gradual weight loss.

Fertility diet

High-protein foods 

Protein is essential when it comes to losing weight. It boosts metabolic rate, and your body burns more calories[1]. In addition, protein suppresses appetite, elevates satiety hormones, helps you feel full, and prevents overeating[2]. Moreover, a high-protein diet provides preservation of lean mass during weight loss[3].

Especially during pregnancy, the protein needs of a woman’s body are higher. These compounds benefit both mother and baby. 

Sources of protein include:

  • meat
  • beans, peas, and lentils
  • eggs
  • dairy products
  • nuts and seeds
  • tofu
  • guava

Low-carb diet

Researches proved low carbohydrate diet efficacy for weight loss. This diet restricts your carbs intake. The effect is based on reducing a person’s appetite[4]. In addition to weight-loss results, this diet can lower blood sugar and blood pressure. It can also lead to raising HDL (good) cholesterol and decreasing LDL (bad) cholesterol.

A person should also limit refined carbs(removed fiber, vitamins, and minerals) intake. These products are supposed to be empty calories. They are easy to digest, have a high glycemic index, and can cause overeating[5].

However, there are healthy carbs that must be included in the daily ration. Some of them are whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, etc. 

Fiber-rich foods

Fiber slows digestion, making us feel full for a longer time, which is essential for weight management[6]. It can also be useful for cholesterol-reducing and heart disease prevention.

Spicy meals

Studies present that spicy meal intake in addition to physical activity and diet may be helpful for weight loss. Compound capsaicin extracted from chili peppers and jalapenos promotes reducing appetite and increasing fat burning, influencing weight7. Despite this fact, spicy foods are not healthy for everyone and can even be dangerous, especially in high doses. They can trigger stomach ulcer development. That’s why you should be careful.

Fertility boosting products

  • citruses and mature cheese; they contain polyamine putrescine, which is associated with semen and ovaries health[9]  
  • salmon, which is rich in beneficial to male and female fertility omega-3s
  • walnuts that contribute to sperm quality improvement[10]
  • cinnamon can help combat irregular menstrual cycles in women with  polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • pomegranates which increase sperm motility[11]
  • oysters are packed with fertility-boosting nutrients such as vitamin B12, zinc, selenium, iron, etc.
  • lentils and beans are high in protein and polyamine spermidine, which helps semen fertilize the egg
  • tomatoes contain the nutrient lycopene augmenting male fertility[12]  
  • dairy products are rich in saturated fat, which benefits female fertility
  • sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E, essential for the reproductive system 

Eating habits

  1. Eat more slowly. When you eat quickly and carelessly, you gain more calories and have a higher chance of becoming obese[8]. Moreover, slowly eating gives appropriate time to gut hormones such as ghrelin to release and transfer a signal about fullness to your brain.
  2. Use smaller plates. Then portion size seems bigger, and it results in eating less. 
  3. Avoid snacks between main meals. It leads to unnecessary calorie intake. 

Liquid balance 

Many studies show the weight-reducing effect of increased water consumption. It promotes weight loss among overweight and obese adults by increasing the number of calories the body burns[13]. Drinking water before a meal is also associated with lower appetite and decreased eaten calories.

The appropriate daily water intake may vary depending on an individualʼs weight, physical activity, etc. 

Physical activity

There is no direct connection between physical activity and the likelihood of a woman getting pregnant. However, obesity is associated with infertility, and weight loss may boost fertility levels. For obese women who have fertility troubles, the simple act of walking for at least 10 minutes may help. Women who exercise regularly become pregnant quicker than women who don’t. 

Researchers have reported that being active before and during pregnancy can reduce the risk of pregnancy complications. Staying active can improve your mood and lessen stress and depression risks. 

It doesn’t have to be arduous exercising in the gym. It can be any activity that raises your heart rate and fastens your breathing (yoga, brisk walking, swimming, dancing). 

Normalized sleep pattern

Poor sleep results in weight gain. According to the review, adults with short sleep duration are 55% more likely to develop obesity[14].

Studies show that sleep-deprived individuals have an enormous appetite and tend to eat more calories. Sleep deprivation disrupts the daily hormone fluctuations, causing a higher level of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite, and reduced leptin levels, which suppresses appetite[15].

If you’re trying to lose weight, getting quality sleep is crucial.


  1. Pesta DH, Samuel VT. A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2014 Nov 19;11(1):53. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-11-53.
  2. Dougkas A, Östman E. Protein-Enriched Liquid Preloads Varying in Macronutrient Content Modulate Appetite and Appetite-Regulating Hormones in Healthy Adults. J Nutr. 2016 Mar;146(3):637-45. doi: 10.3945/jn.115.217224. 
  3. Leidy HJ, Clifton PM, Astrup A, Wycherley TP, Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Luscombe-Marsh ND, Woods SC, Mattes RD. The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Jun;101(6):1320S-1329S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.084038.
  4. Hu T, Yao L, Reynolds K, Niu T, Li S, Whelton P, He J, Bazzano L. The effects of a low-carbohydrate diet on appetite: A randomized controlled trial. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2016 Jun;26(6):476-88. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2015.11.011.
  5. Ludwig DS, Majzoub JA, Al-Zahrani A, Dallal GE, Blanco I, Roberts SB. High glycemic index foods, overeating, and obesity. Pediatrics. 1999 Mar;103(3):E26. doi: 10.1542/peds.103.3.e26.
  6. Rebello CJ, Chu YF, Johnson WD, Martin CK, Han H, Bordenave N, Shi Y, O’Shea M, Greenway FL. The role of meal viscosity and oat β-glucan characteristics in human appetite control: a randomized crossover trial. Nutr J. 2014 May 28;13:49. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-13-49.
  7. Josse AR, Sherriffs SS, Holwerda AM, Andrews R, Staples AW, Phillips SM. Effects of capsinoid ingestion on energy expenditure and lipid oxidation at rest and during exercise. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2010 Aug 3;7:65. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-7-65.
  8. Otsuka R, Tamakoshi K, Yatsuya H, Murata C, Sekiya A, Wada K, Zhang HM, Matsushita K, Sugiura K, Takefuji S, OuYang P, Nagasawa N, Kondo T, Sasaki S, Toyoshima H. Eating fast leads to obesity: findings based on self-administered questionnaires among middle-aged Japanese men and women. J Epidemiol. 2006 May;16(3):117-24. doi: 10.2188/jea.16.117.
  9. Pavine L. C. Lefèvre, Marie-France Palin, Bruce D. Murphy. Polyamines on the Reproductive Landscape.  Endocrine Reviews. Volume 32, Issue 5, 1 October 2011, Pages 694–712, doi: 10.1210/er.2011-0012.
  10. Wendie A. Robbins, Lin Xun, Leah Z. FitzGerald, Samantha Esguerra, Susanne M. Henning, Catherine L. Carpenter. Walnuts Improve Semen Quality in Men Consuming a Western-Style Diet: Randomized Control Dietary Intervention Trial. Biology of Reproduction. Volume 87, Issue 4, 1 October 2012, 101, 1–8, doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.112.101634.
  11. Fedder MDK, Jakobsen HB, Giversen I, Christensen LP, Parner ET, Fedder J (2014). An Extract of Pomegranate Fruit and Galangal Rhizome Increases the Numbers of Motile Sperm: A Prospective, Randomised, Controlled, Double-Blinded Trial. PLoS ONE 9(10): e108532. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0108532.
  12. Durairajanayagam D, Agarwal A, Ong C, Prashast P. Lycopene and male infertility. Asian J Androl. 2014 May-Jun;16(3):420-5. doi: 10.4103/1008-682X.126384. 
  13.  Dennis EA, Dengo AL, Comber DL, Flack KD, Savla J, Davy KP, Davy BM. Water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet intervention in middle-aged and older adults. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Feb;18(2):300-7. doi: 10.1038/oby.2009.235. 
  14.  Cappuccio FP, Taggart FM, Kandala NB, Currie A, Peile E, Stranges S, Miller MA. Meta-analysis of short sleep duration and obesity in children and adults. Sleep. 2008 May;31(5):619-26. doi: 10.1093/sleep/31.5.619. 
  15. Taheri S, Lin L, Austin D, Young T, Mignot E. Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index. PLoS Med. 2004 Dec;1(3):e62. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0010062.