Name: Leah Kleinschrodt
Hometown: Inver Grove Heights, Minn.
Degree Pursuing: Nutrition M.S.
Adviser: Linda Brady
Research Title: Optimal % Carbohydrate Intake to Improve Insulin Sensitivity in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder in women of reproductive age, and is the most common cause of anovulatory infertility. Women with this condition exhibit many metabolic, reproductive, hormonal, and cosmetic symptoms, although perhaps the most detrimental feature is an intrinsic insulin resistance that sets the stage chronic illness later in life (e.g., T2DM, CVD, endometrial cancer, etc.). No optimal dietary composition has been identified for this population of women, although a diet aimed at improving insulin sensitivity is often sought after. The objective of this review was to explore the current literature and determine if there is an optimal carbohydrate intake amount that results in improved insulin sensitivity in women with PCOS. This results of this review, comprised of five RCTs, suggest that a moderate reduction in carbohydrate intake (40-45% of total energy intake) is sufficient to significantly reduce insulin resistance markers in overweight/obese women with PCOS. However, future studies in this area are needed to investigate the impact of carbohydrate reduction in lean women with PCOS, the long-term sustainability of a lower-carbohydrate diet, and the impact of carbohydrate reduction in the setting of a weight-maintenance calorie load.
How did you become interested in nutrition?
I was pretty active as a kid, with soccer being my big passion. I also grew up in a family of health professionals, so I always figured my own career would be in the health or medical field as well. In my undergraduate program, I studied exercise science and did my own nutrition learning on the side. However, it wasn't until I worked as a health coach and saw so much dietary misinformation amongst my patients that I decided to make my nutrition education formal. I wanted to help my patients see what an impact good nutrition have on their health!
Why did you choose the University of Minnesota?
I chose the University of Minnesota for my graduate studies because I loved my undergraduate program in Duluth. I also knew that having an excellent internship program available locally would be crucial to my pathway to becoming an RD.
What are your future plans?
My current plans are to complete the Emily Program dietetic internship this next year and then take the boards to become a Registered Dietician. I currently work part-time for a local nutrition counseling company, so I am hoping to join their nutrition staff once I am licensed.