Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight is important for everyone, but even more imperative for women with PCOS. Weight gain with PCOS is often impossible to avoid, and losing those extra-pounds can be a real challenge. But it doesn’t have to be with a targeted approach! If you focus on beating insulin resistance, balancing your hormones and eating right, your weight will automatically drop down. So, here are 13 PCOS weight loss tips that are guaranteed to work!
Eating the right kinds of food will reverse insulin resistance, combat chronic inflammation and help you drop unwanted pounds. An LCHF or Low Carb – High Fat diet works well for most women with PCOS. Cutting back on carbohydrates reduces insulin load on the body. The reason we recommend LCHF instead of a Low Carb-High Protein diet is because both proteins and carbohydrates have an adverse effect on leptin resistance or insulin resistance. The right diet is the first and foremost important step in your PCOS weight loss journey.
When you cut back on carbs and limit protein intake, you need to increase healthy fats in your diet. Amp up your fat intake by eating – ghee, grass-fed butter, olive oil, fatty fish, coconut oil, sesame seed oil, nuts, seeds and avocados. Partially-hydrogenated and hydrogenated fats are best avoided completely. Consuming too many omega-6 fatty acids encourages inflammation. This is why it’s best to avoid vegetable oils like soy, sunflower and safflower.
Insulin resistance lies at the heart of PCOS. Hyperinsulinaemia is found in 30% of slim and 75% of obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome. No matter how much you diet and exercise, you will not lose weight unless you treat insulin resistance. However, this takes time and patience. And no; starting Metformin and hoping it cures all your woes is not the right approach. Begin by cutting out all refined carbs and sugars from your diet. Regular blood and insulin tests will help you progress in the right direction, as you make lifestyle changes.
You may think that the best way to achieve PCOS weight loss is to start exercising. And you’d be right. To an extent, that is. Don’t wrongly assume that exercising all day will help you lose a lot of weight faster. It’ll make your body hold on to weight, increase cortisol levels and aid insulin resistance. Regular high intensity workouts with calorie restriction will also reduce your metabolism. Over-exercising and under-eating puts your body under stress and is detrimental to your weight loss goals. To keep hormones balanced – be GENTLE on your body.
Working out vigorously for 2-3 hours every day, while eating very few calories, will do you no help. Instead, learn to exercise correctly for PCOS weight loss. You want to match your exercise levels to your basal metabolic rate or resting energy expenditure. If you have been exercising and still holding on to weight, try cutting back. Good old low-intensity cardio DOES work; don’t disregard it for the more popular HIIT. HIIT is best only in moderation. Make sure to include weight training exercises into your routine; twice a week is a good start. And aim for 45-60 minutes of exercise a day; no more.
We all have been fed a lot of lies when we were told to eat 5-6 meals a day. We want to stress on this over and over: Stick to three meals a day at the most, and aim for a 10-12 hour fasting period between dinner and breakfast. Studies find that intermittent fasting (where you restrict calories for a limited period) is an easier approach to follow than continuous energy restriction. It may overcome adaption to the ‘weight reduced state’ by repeated rapid improvements in metabolic control with each spell of energy restriction. It greatly helps improve insulin sensitivity too.
The symptoms of hypothyroidism can closely mimic those of PCOS, as both are endocrine disorders. Often, they can occur together. Hypothyroidism can make it extra-hard for you to lose weight because it reduces your BMR (basal metabolic rate). Unfortunately, many overweight women have some elements of hypothyroidism at baseline. A dysfunctional thyroid could easily be the reason for your increased appetite and sluggish metabolism, making PCOS weight loss harder.
High estrogen levels promote weight gain, and could contribute towards a higher waist-to-hip ratio. If you are having a tough time losing weight from your thighs and hips, blame your hormonal imbalance for it. Presence of any endocrine disrupting chemicals alters estrogen metabolism. They can also interfere with estrogen receptors at target tissues. Get your blood work done and talk to your medical care provider to come up with a holistic plan to balance your hormones.
Leptin is a hormone that regulates appetite and metabolism. Often, leptin resistance goes hand-in-hand with insulin resistance. It’s worsened by yo-yo dieting, which is why we strictly advise you against very low-calorie diets designed for quick weight loss. Leptin dysregulation could be the reason you haven’t lost any weight despite eating 100% clean and exercising every day. Treating leptin resistance is a bit tricky, and begins with eating sufficient calories to rev up your metabolism. Also, don’t over-exercise or eat too much protein. Discuss other ways to manage leptin resistance with your doctor and dietician.
Some supplements can help correct insulin resistance, which will make it easier for you to lose weight. Start off by adding Chromium, Vitamin B3, B6, B12 and D to your diet because a deficiency in these can lead to insulin resistance. We also recommend omega-3 rich Cod Liver Oil supplements and Inositol to helps reduce insulin resistance and improve ovulatory function. Inositol or D-Chiro Inositol also helps in reducing obesity by regulating glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis. Natural supplements like Aloe Vera, fenugreek, flaxseed, and licorice root also improve insulin sensitivity with side-effects.
Your gut microbiome could be the hidden key to lasting PCOS weight loss! Studies show that probiotic supplementation among PCOS women for 12 weeks had favourable effects on weight loss, markers of insulin resistance, triglycerides and VLDL-cholesterol concentrations. Imbalanced gut microbiota contributes to both insulin resistance and leptin resistance, and seriously negates you’re your weight-loss efforts. Kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, buttermilk and tempeh are excellent natural probiotics. Also, eat prebiotic foods like garlic, onions, asparagus, and leeks to particularly feed these healthy gut bacteria.
Stress and hormonal commotion go hand in hand. Stress is also damaging to your PCOS weight loss goals – it affects your metabolism as well as appetite. Researchers have found disturbed stress response in women with PCOS. That means stress is way worse for you as compared to women without PCOS! Here are some of the stress-busting techniques we recommend – deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, dance, gentle walks in nature, and listening to relaxing music.
Sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on hormones and insulin sensitivity. It also puts your body under stress and disrupts appetite regulation. Aim for 7-9 hours of restful sleep every night. A healthy sleep-time routine will go a long way towards training your mind and body to ‘switch off’ sensory overload and drift off. Keep your room dark and cool, light up aromatic candles, have a bath and switch off all devices that distract you from sleep.