Acne, facial hair, mood swings, depression and more are all that PCOS brings to the table. Polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects women during their childbearing years. It affects a woman’s hormone levels and results in higher than usual production of androgens i.e. the male hormones. This hormone imbalance makes it harder for women to get pregnant and also disrupts the menstrual cycle and may cause their bodies to skip menstrual periods. While managing other symptoms is relatively easy, weight management can be tricky. With these tips, begin your weight loss journey with PCOS with ease. But before that, watch this video to understand the daily struggles that women with PCOS have to go through.
Experts say that PCOS is really a syndrome because it’s not just one disease. It’s a constellation of symptoms. Its three main features are:
- Cysts in the ovaries
- High levels of male hormones
- Irregular or skipped periods
If you are struggling with how to lose weight with PCOS you can learn more about it here.
PCOS & Weight Gain
Insulin resistance is the main cause of weight gain in women with PCOS. Insulin helps in regulating blood sugar levels and it also helps in converting sugar and starch from food to energy. Due to PCOS, some cells do not readily respond to insulin and this makes it difficult for the body to utilize insulin. This condition is known as insulin resistance. As a result of this, the pancreas produces excess insulin in order to compensate and this, in turn, results in high levels of insulin and sugar in the bloodstream.
High insulin levels affect the functioning of ovaries and result in higher production of the male hormones. High androgen levels result in various symptoms such as increased facial and body hair growth, acne, irregular periods and weight gain. As seen in men, androgens may cause weight gain in the abdomen area and so women suffering from PCOS tend to have an apple-shaped body instead of a pear-shaped body.
Did you know there are 4 types of PCOS? Find out which one you have here and how to manage it effectively.
PCOS is often associated with mood swings and depression and in such cases, the weight gain can also be attributed to increased food cravings or emotional eating.
Many women with this syndrome struggle with how to lose weight with PCOS as the condition causes an imbalance in hunger hormones.
10 Ways How You Can Deal With Weight Loss If You Have PCOS
1. Limit Refined Carbs And Sugar
Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, pasta and noodles, causes our blood sugar levels to rise and fall quickly and this as a result makes us hungrier for more. Women wondering how to lose weight PCOS might give in to their craving for carbs, it causes their blood sugar levels to crash and this creates a vicious cycle of eating and craving more carbs.
And hence, women wanting to lose weight should opt for sources of complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. These carbs take longer to digest owing to their high fibre content and as a result, they also make us feel fuller for a longer period of time and they also help in stabilizing blood sugar levels.
Noodles can be replaced by low-carb pasta alternatives. And white rice could be replaced by brown rice or quinoa. Honey or maple syrup could be considered a viable alternative for sweeteners.
2. Consistently Eat Protein Throughout The Day
Protein helps in stabilizing blood sugar levels and it also makes us feel full for a longer period which in turn would help in reducing cravings and lower consumption of calories overall.
Protein serves a number of important functions in your body. It is made up of individual amino acids, including many that your body cannot create on its own. And has tons of benefits including improving wound healing and strengthening bones.
Read here 5 things every Indian woman needs to know about sustainable high protein food plans, the restrictions, along with a few recipes.
3. Eating Smaller And More Frequent Meals
When blood sugar is too high and if it is not being used for energy then it gets stored as fat. And hence eating smaller and more frequent meals ensures that the blood sugar remains in a healthy range, this prevents highs in blood sugar. It is ideal to have four to five of such smaller meals in a day, these meals should include lean proteins, a high amount of fibre, a good amount of vegetables as well as healthy fats from seeds, nuts or avocados.
TC46 brings you 5 tricks to eating healthy using portion control, click here and read all about it.
4. Increasing The Intake Of Healthy Fats
When you get enough healthy fats in your diet you feel satisfied after meals. And it helps you reach your weight loss goal too. In a study, it was discovered that women who are struggling with how to lose weight with PCOS who had a low-fat diet struggled with weight loss more than the ones who have a high-fat diet.
Even though fats means calories, what it actually does is expands your stomach volume and reduces hunger. And in the long run, this helps you eat fewer calories throughout the day.
Some examples of healthy fats can be olive oil, coconut oil and nut butter.
5. Including Gut-Friendly Fermented Foods In The Diet
Eating foods that are high in probiotics such as yoghurt and kefir help in increasing the good bacteria in our gut and it also promotes weight loss. This is essential as women suffering from PCOS have fewer healthy gut bacteria and as our gut bacteria play a significant role in boosting our metabolism and maintaining our weight.
Click here to read about the difference between prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics, their impact on gut health, and how to consume them correctly.
6. Practice Mindful Eating
Studies have shown that sometimes when women with PCOS have tried diets for weight control they have ended up having eating disorders. The solution to this is mindful eating as it increases awareness of bodily cues like hunger. It can also help problematic eating issues such as binge eating and emotional eating.
7. Avoid Undereating
When you restrict calories it has the potential to slow down your metabolism. This calorie restriction may lead to short term weight loss over time but it can lead to weight regain too. Eating lesser calories can also negatively impact hormones that control appetite as well. You can instead focus on eating whole foods and cutting out unhealthy foods.
8. Regular Exercise
This might be the most common advice for weight loss but is an important one. Studies prove that women who exercise for an hour at least 3 times a week have lost body fat more than the ones who don’t. While women with PCOS lost less weight than the ones who don’t have PCOS it still resulted in the loss of belly fat and improvements in insulin sensitivity.
Here are 10 effective yoga asanas for PCOS.
9. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is vital when it comes to health. If you have PCOS you may experience sleep disturbance as well as insomnia at times. Lack of sleep can increase the activity of hormones that drive hunger. That results in you eating more throughout the day. It is also connected to being overweight or obese.
Click here to learn the symptoms of sleep disorders, some common remedies that can help, and effective tips to regain a healthy sleep cycle.
10. Manage Stress
We might ignore this because of our busy schedule but stress is a major risk factor for weight gain and managing that can help you manage your weight. Stress increases the level of cortisol that is linked to insulin resistance and weight gain. It can also develop belly fat. You can practice yoga and meditation to lower your cortisol levels.
Read here 25 ways to calm your mind, body and soul and get rid of stress.
Foods To Avoid With PCOS
- Processed foods that make use of refined flour (maida). This includes almost all the bakery items such as bread, pastries, doughnuts, mithai and cookies
- High-calorie foods like fried food and fast food
- Sugary and aerated drinks
- Red meat and processed meat like sausages, hot dogs and cold cuts
- Vegetables that are high on starch like potatoes, corn and peas
- Cornflour and corn syrup
PCOS is a condition that affects a woman physically, emotionally and psychologically. But it can be controlled effectively with lifestyle-improving habits. Regular monitoring of weight, insulin levels, blood pressure, cholesterol, sleep patterns and menstrual cycles is an effective way of identifying the progress made. Keeping stress at bay with yoga and other meditation techniques can help women deal with their symptoms and create a healthy body, mind and soul.