Are you undergoing, or considering In vitro fertilisation (IVF)? If so you might be wondering what to eat during IVF. There is a growing amount of evidence about what is the best diet for IVF. Let’s look at the latest research to help you create your optimal IVF diet.
During this rollercoaster journey, there are factors outside of your control, but diet and lifestyle are areas that may influence the success of the treatment.
Read on to discover what research shows about the best IVF foods, drinks and supplements to help your body be at its best during your IVF journey.
When to begin an IVF diet
It’s never too soon to start. Eggs take up to 3 months to mature and sperm takes 2 and a half months and what you eat helps to optimise how they develop! What you consume can affect so many aspects of your fertility journey – changes made to diet and lifestyle can have an impact straight away.
Start preparing your body from the outset by eating the best diet for IVF as soon as you feel ready.
Research shows that elements of an IVF diet can help support success in many of different stages of treatment
An IVF-optimised diet can;
- Improve response to ovarian stimulation – the number of oocytes (eggs) harvested.
- Increase embryo yield and quality – the number and quality of fertilised cells created.
- Helps to improve semen quality and concentration – which influence the likelihood of fertilisation and the number of embryos that develop into blastocysts (the 2nd stage of embryo development).
- Support increased implantation rates – how effectively the fertilised egg attaches to the uterine wall.
- Decrease the risk of miscarriage.
- Increase the number of healthy babies born using ART.
What to eat during IVF
Let’s go into a bit more detail
- A wide range of fruits and vegetables
- Plenty of protein from fish, plant sources, and lean meat
- Unsaturated Fats
Mediterranean diet and IVF
The diet involves eating;
- A mixture of different coloured fruits and vegetables in your IVF diet provides a range of micronutrients and antioxidants. These help protect the developing sperm, egg, and the endometrium (lining of the womb) from damage caused by oxidative stress – improving their quality. Give them a good wash to remove any pesticides.
- Lean protein sources. The Mediterranean diet includes fish, poultry and vegetarian sources of protein like lentils, beans and chickpeas. Some research suggests that increasing protein to around 25% of your daily intake may help the development of fertilised eggs. Another study found that a higher intake of protein from vegetarian sources may improve ovulatory function.
- Soy is a great plant-based protein. The amount a woman eats positively influences the chance of a live birth for those using ART.
- Olive, sunflower, and rapeseed oils are a key aspect of the Mediterranean diet. Include these unsaturated fats as part of your IVF diet to improve pregnancy rates.
- Whole-grain carbohydrates provide an important source of energy. A higher intake of wholegrains before implantation can increase the likelihood of implantation and live birth.
Our IVF Diet Meal Plan & Guide incorporates all of these recommendations and much more to bring you an optimal IVF in the form of 2 weeks’ worth of recipes.
Which drinks should be part of an IVF diet?
Proper hydration helps our bodies work at their best. It stands to reason that good hydration should be an IVF success tip too.
- Water – this is the best way to stay topped up, try adding mint, ginger, or lemon if you want extra flavour.
- A glass of milk. Women going through IVF who have 1 -2 portions of full-fat dairy (that includes cheese, yoghurt, and cream as well) have shown a higher rate of live births. On the other hand, men should consume low-fat milk to support sperm concentration and motility, so you may want separate bottles for a while.
Reduce intake of sugary and artificially sweetened drinks as well as caffeine and alcohol. These drinks have a negative effect on fertility for both men and women. Aim to keep your intake of these down.
Research is starting to discover which nutrients from the IVF diet are contributing most towards optimising fertility. Tailored supplements can benefit some individuals and help bridge gaps in nutrient intake, especially if the diet is imbalanced. In this case, tailored advice from a Specialist Fertility Dietitian or Nutritionist would be recommended. If this is something you are interested we can offer a personalised 1-2-1 advice.
Evidence shows that what both women and men eat during IVF can improve outcomes at each of its stages. Our top IVF success tips are to follow a Mediterranean diet packed with; a rainbow array of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, unsaturated fats and wholegrains and some soy. Reduce your intake of drinks containing sugar, artificial sweetener, caffeine or alcohol, using water and some full-fat milk to stay well hydrated.
If you are looking for detailed guidance on how to further optimise your nutrition to support your IVF journey check out our detailed evidence-based guide which includes all the details you need on diet, lifestyle and supplements as well as 2 weeks’ worth of recipes – IVF Meal Plan and Guide.