Weight loss isn’t easy. Throw in PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), and the journey becomes harder. Believe it or not, between 5 and 20 percent of reproductive-aged women have PCOS (1).From Keto to Atkins, and veganism, the internet is flooded with advice on how to lose weight with PCOS.Being diagnosed with PCOS isn’t the issue.
The main problem lies in managing the condition and achieving weight loss naturally. The high level of androgens or male hormones leads to weight gain in women. While weight loss is a constant struggle, certain women also experience several mental health disorders in the bargain. Think depression, anxiety and OCD.
Besides this, if weight gain is not kept at bay, it can lead to severe health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, infertility, sleep apnoea, heart diseases and endometriosis.
Well, don’t let the ill-effects of PCOS take over your life. There are certain lifestyle and diet tweaks you can make to help you shed those extra pounds and reduce the condition’s severity.
Wonder what they are? Keep reading to find out…
PCOS & Weight Gain – What is the Connection?
PCOS messes with your hormonal balance. In a human body, usually insulin is used to convert sugar and starch from food into energy. In women with PCOS, it becomes difficult for the body to use hormone insulin. Owing to this, insulin resistance occurs. Instead of fat burn, fat storage occurs since insulin and glucose tend to build up in the bloodstream.
Since PCOS weight gain is triggered by male hormones, most of the fat is found in the abdomen. Women dealing with PCOS might also experience ‘metabolic obesity’. This is also the reason why they have an apple-shaped body instead of a pear-shaped body. Experts believe that abdominal fat is the most dangerous kind of fat. It can trigger heart diseases and other health conditions(2).
What is the Role of Nutrition in PCOS?
Almost 40% – 50 % of women have seen with PCOS are overweight or obese. which is actually the major risk factor, as the consolidation of fat in adipose tissue leads to adipose dyfunction, and it’s consequence are the compilation of insulin resistance. It is the condition where tissue declines responding to insulin which impacts the metabolism of glucose.
There are several drawbacks of insulin resistance . Also, in a study it has shown that improvement in insulin, after weight loss therapy has a positive impact in women with PCOS. Omega – 3 fatty acid has a beneficial impact on insulin. It diminishes or thins the endoplasmic reticulum, stress and b-oxidation of mitochondrial fatty acids. which lowers the inflammatory process and enhances the insulin sensitivity.
The treatment with omega-3 fatty acids decreases hyperandrogenism along with insulin resistance. Also is much cheaper than high cost treatment like HRT. Omega-3 fatty acid decreases the risk factor associated with the cholesterol in women with PCOS. Therefore including omega-3 fatty acid in diet or in other ways is essential for women having PCOS.
Below are the things that you must know (Exercise therapy and diet for the management of PCOS)
The first and most important step in dealing with PCOS is to change one’s lifestyle and increase one’s level of physical activity and exercise.
Not only does exercise help with PCOS, but it also helps with the risk factors that come with it, such as reduced cases of CVD (cardiovascular diseases), weight gain, and obesity prevention .
According to the study, there was a positive improvement in the women with PCOS, particularly in their ovulations and weight loss.
The intensity of the physical activity and exercise can also influence the changes.
According to the report, women suffering from PCOS should be encouraged to engage in at least 90 minutes of aerobic activity per week. at an intensity of 60-70%, to see the positive results
What are the problems women face who have PCOS & what changes should be done in their lifestyle?
Today, many women are affected by polycystic ovarian syndrome. If the diagnosed woman is overweight or obese, the clinical situation deteriorates.
Menstrual cycle irregularities, hormonal imbalances, altered ovulation patterns, and infertility are the most obvious changes.
Additionally, it has been observed that women with PCOS are more likely to develop diabetes and cardiovascular disease due to insulin resistance.
These women are known to experience a variety of mental health problems, including anxiety and despair.
In order to maintain their optimal body weight, they must consume a healthy, balanced diet and engage in regular physical activity.
There are many variables that contribute to the prevalence of this condition in women, including unbalanced food habits, unhealthy lifestyle choices, inadequate medical attention and medicines, late diagnosis, and ignorance.
Therefore, a speedy recovery from this disease and improved nutritional and lifestyle control may improve the patient’s quality of life.
Balance your Diet (Do’s & Don’t)
A PCOS diet isn’t a one-size-fits-all deal. What may work for one may not necessarily work for you! Irrespective of the kind of diet you follow, focus on eating more veggies, protein and healthy fats. Here are some healthy eating tips you should follow:
- Consume Fibrous foods: Include fibre-rich foods in your diet. Whole grains, legumes, lentils, and fruits and vegetables help control blood sugar levels and promote intestinal health. Since fibre tends to make one feel fuller faster, it’s the perfect diet to help women lose weightwith PCOS.
- Avoid Refined Carbohydrates: If you’re dealing with PCOS, refined and processed foods are a big no-no. They’re high in sugar and carbs which lead to them being stored instead of being burned for energy. Avoid packaged noodles, aerated drinks, soda and ice cream as far as possible. A low-carb diet will lower insulin levels in PCOS women and promote better well-being.
- Reduce Dairy Consumption: Dairy consumption can alleviate hormonal PCOS symptoms. Avoid consumption of milk. However, probiotics like curd are beneficial as it adds healthy bacteria to your system. It reduces inflammation and has a cooling effect on your gut.
- Practice Mindful Eating & Chew your Food: Women with PCOS usually tend to binge eat to satisfy their cravings. This results in them consuming large quantities of food. To lose weight with PCOS, it is important to be fully aware of your body’s cues. Eat four to six small meals during the day instead of three large meals. Remember to avoid meal-time distractions and mostly importantly, chew your food. This will help your body digest solid food better. This also helps in better absorption of nutrients.
While these are a few diet changes you should incorporate, they’re not enough. A good PCOS diet plan accompanied with a healthy lifestyle is what you need to lose weight with PCOS.
Why should you include a low starch or low dairy diet in PCOS?
Observation shows that after 8 week of dietary modification has shown reduction in weight, BMI, fat mass, fasting and hormones , results were improvement in level of insulin resistance.
Low fat and low starch food helps in improvement , whereas high protein and fiber enriched food gives them satisfaction and reduces their craving for food for a longer time. which helped them to cut off more calories. This type of diet have shown positive impact on woman who suffers from PCOS.
Cutting off the use of starch and fat have shown improvement in postprandial fat oxidation. results in weight loss and obesity.
Reduction of carbohydrates by exchanging a high protein diet seems to provide glucose metabolism which helps in weight loss. (+ 30% protein -40% carbohydrate with 1000kcal deficit). This diet has shown a reduction in the level of testosterone.
The high-protein diet also resulted in lower glucose levels. Thus, substituting carbohydrates with proteins may aid in weight loss and glucose metabolism.
- Increase your Daily Endorphins
Irrespective of whether you deal with PCOS or not, exercise should be an integral part of your lifestyle.Exercise raises your endorphin levels and happy hormones. This is extremely important if you’re dealing with PCOS as it helps you manage stress and anxiety. However, exercise doesn’t have to be vigorous. Start with small but effective exercises. A brisk walk or jog for 30 minutes is also good when you’re trying to lose weight. Weight training and yoga is a bonus. But, don’t engage in intense exercise sessions as this can cause more harm than good (3).
- Be Patient
Lastly, be patient with your progress. Losing weight with PCOS is challenging but not impossible. Don’t expect visible changes overnight. Even if you don’t lose a significant amount of weight, a healthy lifestyle will reduce your chances of developing other life-threatening diseases.
Remember, everyone’s PCOS story is different. Before you make any inclusions to your diet or plan a regime to lose weight with PCOS, always consult your doctor or healthcare provider. In the initial phase, there might be a little trial and error but once you begin to see visible changes, it will all seem worth it.
If there are certain things that have worked for you in your PCOS journey, we would love to know.