About 1 in 10 women of childbearing age has polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common hormonal disorder. Women with PCOS often find it more difficult to lose weight than women without PCOS. Additionally, PCOS can inadvertently make it easier to gain weight, which can be frustrating. So, the question of how to lose weight with PCOS is essential.
This article explains the root causes of weight gain in PCOS and shares steps to help you regain weight control.
Understanding PCOS and its impact
PCOS is a hormonal disorder characterized by irregular periods, the formation of small cysts on one or both ovaries, and increased levels of male hormones. Insulin resistance is also a common feature of PCOS, and the disorder can lead to various diseases, including infertility.
Losing weight can be difficult for PCOS patients who are overweight or obese. It can increase the risk of uterine cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and sleep apnea. However, even losing 5-10% of weight can significantly affect the management of PCOS symptoms. Healthy weight loss during PCOS can improve fertility, insulin resistance, hormone levels, menstrual irregularities, ovarian function, unwanted hair growth, and overall health.
PCOS and weight gain: the connection
The two main causes of weight gain in PCOS patients are insulin resistance and inflammation.
Insulin resistance occurs when your body becomes less responsive to insulin, causing your brain to think you’re hungry even after you eat. It can lead to overeating and unnecessary snacking. Excess insulin levels caused by insulin resistance also cause the body to store fat, especially around the abdomen or tummy.
Inflammation occurs when the body’s immune system constantly attacks healthy cells and tissues. As a result, it causes the body to store more fat to protect these tissues.
Chronic inflammation can lead to weight gain, but diet and lifestyle choices are also important factors in weight management. Therefore, modifying diet and lifestyle can help lose weight for people with PCOS.
For many women with PCOS, it is easy to gain weight and difficult to lose it. But despite the additional challenges of losing weight, proper diet, exercise, and medication are certainly possible. You need to focus on healthy changes that will help manage insulin resistance and inflammation, which are the main causes of PCOS weight gain.
How do you lose weight with PCOS?
Losing weight can be a challenge for everyone, but people with PCOS find it even more difficult. Here are some helpful tips for losing weight while you have PCOS.
Follow a healthy diet
Instead of using the “one size fits all” philosophy when creating a diet plan, focus on consuming more protein, vegetables, and healthy fats. Also avoid foods rich in sugar and carbohydrates. Instead, try to eat more fiber-rich foods as they aid digestion and make you feel full after meals. Additionally, include more fermented foods in your diet to boost your metabolism. These modifications can reduce the chance of developing type 2 diabetes because many PCOS patients have insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels.
Research shows that eating fewer carbohydrates can boost metabolism and help PCOS patients shed more pounds.
Reduce consumption of processed foods
Added sugar in processed foods increases blood sugar levels and increases the risk of insulin resistance, which leads to obesity. In addition, processed foods are often inflammatory, which is the main cause of weight gain. Therefore, look for healthy alternatives (such as fruits and nuts) to fried or packaged snacks.
Manage your cravings
Sometimes, food cravings seem uncontrollable. Many women with PCOS suffer from overeating and have a strong desire to eat. However, controlling your cravings is essential because doing otherwise can completely nullify your weight loss efforts. Your doctor or therapist can work with you to identify the causes of your cravings and create coping mechanisms.
Exercise is a great way to speed up weight loss. Women who exercise for at least 30 minutes a day are less likely to become obese, which makes it easier for them to lose weight. Usually the best exercise for PCOS is a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance exercise. However, excessive exercise can have negative consequences. So do not overdo it.
Get enough sleep
Obesity is associated with poor sleep. According to experts, healthy adults with a good sleep cycle will have less accumulation of body fat and are more likely to lose weight. Try to get eight to nine hours of sleep a night.
Stress increases the risk of weight gain. Therefore, stress management can help you maintain your ideal weight. When you feel stressed, your body produces more cortisol, a hormone that causes weight gain and insulin resistance. To reduce your cortisol levels, focus on stress-relieving activities such as yoga, meditation, and other recreational activities.
Women with PCOS should be patient when trying to lose weight, as the weight loss results will appear gradually. Additionally, since everyone has a different body type, they should avoid comparing their weight loss experience with that of someone else.
There is no cure for PCOS, but there are ways to control symptoms. Medications can help, but they are often most effective when combined with lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise. Talking to your doctor before making any changes is essential to creating a plan that’s right for you.
Weight gain is one of the many symptoms of PCOS. While losing weight may take longer when you have PCOS, healthy lifestyle choices such as eating a nutritious diet, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly are beneficial. Reducing insulin resistance and inflammation is also essential for weight loss with PCOS. However, although weight loss can help treat PCOS symptoms, this does not indicate a complete cure.
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