Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is now a very common condition characterized by hormonal imbalances, irregular periods, and/or the development of small cysts on one or both ovaries.
The hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance, and inflammation make it difficult for women with PCOS to shed weight.
Yet, the surprising fact is that even a small weight loss of approximately 5% can improve insulin resistance, hormone levels, menstrual cycles, fertility, and overall quality of life in women with PCOS.
So, why is it important to distinguish between having PCOS and having polycystic ovaries, you ask? And, why is weight loss diet and exercise in PCOS important?
Mr. John Butler, a consultant gynecological surgeon at The London Clinic, explains: “Having polycystic ovaries (PCO) means, during an ultrasound, you can see multiple cysts on your ovaries. This is common and normal. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), on the other hand, is a condition affecting some women with PCO. Symptoms include a hormone imbalance which can result in excess hair growth, skin changes including acne or weight gain, and irregular periods,” he explains.
What do I do if I think I have PCOS?
Whatever your symptom is, like – excess hair, acne, irregular or absent periods, and weight gain, it can be difficult to know what to do next.
It’s also important to remember that it’s not your fault if you have it. PCOS is related to your hormone levels and insulin production. PCOS and weight gain is also a bit of a catch 22. Even if you lose a small amount of weight, you can significantly see improved systems, including a low mood or depression – a very common symptom of PCOS.
Then, how to lose weight with PCOS naturally?
Doctors suggest staying away from fad diets and eat with a focus on fuelling your body, managing your hormones, and managing stress.
The key is to address the requirements of your body, insulin resistance, and reduce stress hormone levels by packing the diet with anti-inflammatory foods.
Add a lot of leafy green vegetables, pineapples, blueberries, and a focus on whole foods and sources of protein like eggs, fish, and chicken breasts, good fats like nuts and avocado.
Flaxseed helps balance hormones, which are rich in fiber and Omega 3s. Just adding two tablespoons per day in salads, or sprinkled on porridge or in smoothies will do the magic trick.
PCOS diet and exercise plan at a glance
You can have a moderate exercise like brisk walking, jogging, cycling or swimming are all great activities that can help with PCOS. Doing 30 minutes or more a day can also help with weight management, symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as improving the frequency of menstrual cycles and ovulation.
You can try bodyweight exercises like squats, push-ups, or tricep dips to improve the function of insulin in your body. It also boosts your metabolism by building more muscle mass. Please don’t worry though; you won’t bulk up unless you’re taking steroids! Combining resistance moves with cardio exercise is the best way to ensure you’re building and maintaining a lean body, achieving a healthy BMI, and reducing your risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes.
You must have seen or face lower back pain and poor posture when you gain some extra pounds. You can include core training in your program. These muscles support the spine and learning how to switch them on ensures you don’t injure yourself during exercise. Yoga is a great option if you want to consistently lose extra pounds from your body. The most effective exercise is the one you keep up with, so choose something you enjoy!
Limit Processed Foods and Added Sugars
The tip to lose weight with PCOS is to cut down on your intake of processed foods and added sugars may raise blood sugar levels and increase your risk of insulin resistance, which is linked to obesity.
You can intake minimally processed, real foods that will help you raise blood sugar less than highly processed foods but are also satisfying.
STRICTLY AVOID – Foods high in added sugar and refined carbs include cakes, cookies, candy, and fast food.
The final words
Losing weight can be a struggle for women with PCOS. But, a balanced diet – low in inflammatory foods like refined carbs and highly processed foods but rich in whole foods, protein, healthy fats, and fiber — may aid weight loss. Certain supplements may help as well.
If you have PCOS and struggle with losing weight, try out some of the tips above.