PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome is an endocrine disorder that affects women. Learn how to lose weight naturally with a PCOS diet plan.
While there is no cure, PCOS is manageable with lifestyle changes like diet and exercise. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with PCOS, you may be wondering how to lose weight naturally with a PCOS diet plan. In this article, we’ll share our top tips on eating healthier and losing weight with PCOS.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal condition affecting women in which the ovaries produce high levels of androgens (male hormones). These high androgen levels inhibit ovulation, making it difficult for women with PCOS to get pregnant.
PCOS also produces weight gain, irregular periods, acne, and male pattern hair growth.
While there is no cure for PCOS, many women can manage their symptoms by losing weight, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.
This post will discuss PCOS basics, including its causes and symptoms. We’ll also talk about how eating a PCOS diet plan can help you lose weight naturally and balance your hormones.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a medical condition that affects women’s reproductive years. It is a hormonal disorder that can cause irregular menstrual cycles, acne, unwanted hair growth, and infertility. However, many women with PCOS also struggle with weight gain and obesity, leading to various other health problems.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal imbalance that affects one in 10 women of childbearing age. Women with PCOS may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone (androgen) levels. PCOS causes a woman’s body to produce more androgens, or male hormones, than usual.
Up to 70 percent of women with PCOS are overweight or obese. This weight gain is often caused by insulin resistance and excess male hormones, which are common symptoms of PCOS. Obesity can trigger an imbalance in female sex hormones, resulting in more masculine features (such as increased body hair) and irregular menstruation periods.
Insulin Resistance and PCOS
Insulin resistance is a condition where the body becomes unable to respond typically to the hormone insulin. It can lead to diabetes, high cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure. Insulin resistance is common in PCOS because the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas become enlarged due to excess insulin production. As a result, they do not function properly and cannot produce enough insulin to meet the body’s needs. This causes elevated blood sugar levels and increased hunger, further contributing to weight gain and obesity.
Women with PCOS are nearly three times as likely to develop type 2 diabetes as women without PCOS.
The good news is that losing weight can help reverse insulin resistance and reduce the risk of developing diabetes. A healthy diet and regular exercise are essential for managing PCOS and achieving a healthy weight.
PCOS, and how does it affect weight loss?
PCOS is a condition caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones. The hormonal imbalance creates problems in the ovaries. The ovaries make the egg released each month as part of a healthy menstrual cycle. With PCOS, the egg may not develop as it should, or it may not be released during ovulation as it should be.
PCOS can cause missed or irregular periods.
Irregular periods can lead to:
- Infertility (not being pregnant) because you’re not ovulating.
- Cysts (fluid-filled sacs) in the ovaries.
In some women, the menstrual cycle continues even if no egg is released during ovulation. This can lead to hefty bleeding and a higher risk for endometrial cancer (cancer of the uterine lining).
Common signs and symptoms of PCOS include:
- Irregular periods — fewer than nine periods a year
- Heavy bleeding
- Absence of periods
- Excess body and facial hair (hirsutism) — usually on the face, chest, back, or buttocks
- Thinning hair and hair loss from the head
- Acne on the face, chest, and upper back
- Weight gain or obesity — 80 percent or more of those affected are overweight or obese.
Lose Weight Naturally through Exercise
Losing weight when diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can be a challenge. But it’s essential to try because PCOS can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Women with PCOS have a hormonal imbalance that interferes with regular ovulation and causes high levels of male hormones. Although the exact cause is unknown, some experts believe the condition may be linked to insulin resistance and obesity. You may also have excess hair growth, acne, and irregular or infrequent menstrual periods.
Weight loss of just 5% of body weight can help women with PCOS by improving their ability to ovulate and lowering insulin levels. One study found that women who lost 10% of their body weight were three times more likely to become pregnant.
Dietary changes are an essential part of any weight-loss plan. But losing weight through exercise is another effective strategy for women with PCOS.
Here’s how exercise can benefit women with PCOS:
Lowers insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that helps your body use sugar for energy. In PCOS, insulin resistance prevents sugar from getting into cells, so blood sugar levels rise. Exercise improves sensitivity to insulin, which lowers blood sugar levels and reduces symptoms of PCOS.
Improves blood sugar control. Physical activity helps lower fasting and post-meal blood glucose levels in women with PCOS by improving the body’s use of insulin and increasing glucose uptake by muscle tissue.
Reduces male hormone levels. Women with PCOS have an imbalance of female and male hormones called androgens, which causes the condition’s symptoms. Exercise can reduce androgens levels of male hormones and increase levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), which binds to testosterone, reducing its availability to cause symptoms.
Lose Weight Naturally with a PCOS Diet Plan
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects every 1 in 10 women of childbearing age. It’s a complex hormonal disorder that causes cysts to grow on the ovaries. Common symptoms include irregular periods, excessive hair growth, pimples, and weight gain.
This is a very common condition, but most women don’t know they have PCOS until they have trouble getting pregnant.
The right diet can help you lose weight and manage PCOS naturally. Plus, losing weight can reduce the severity of PCOS symptoms and help you get pregnant faster.
Here’s how to use food as medicine with a PCOS diet plan.
It may be challenging to manage your symptoms and lose weight if you have PCOS. But with a PCOS diet plan and exercise, you can improve your symptoms and overall health.
The most effective PCOS diet plans include foods that reduce insulin resistance and inflammation. These include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and fish. PCOS diet plans also limit processed foods high in sugar and fat.
Improving insulin sensitivity
In addition to a balanced diet, exercise can help you lose weight with PCOS by improving insulin sensitivity. The best exercises for PCOS are moderate-intensity aerobic exercises like walking or swimming for 30 minutes most days of the week.
When the ovaries produce too much androgen, the body has an excess of insulin, which leads to weight gain. Symptoms may include irregular periods, acne, and excess hair growth on the face, chest, and back.
Greater risk of diabetes
Women with PCOS are at a greater risk of diabetes, heart disease, and uterine cancer. The good news is that you can treat these symptoms naturally with a diet for PCOS rich in lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
Obesity is one of the most common side effects of PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). About half of women with PCOS are obese.
Researchers believe that insulin resistance plays a significant role in the relationship between PCOS and obesity. Insulin is a hormone that converts sugar into energy. When insulin resistance occurs, the body cannot use its insulin properly. This increases blood sugar levels and causes the body to produce even more insulin.
Studies have shown that women with PCOS often have high levels of insulin. These high levels can cause weight gain, contributing to obesity and other health problems associated with PCOS.
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but the hormonal imbalance interferes with the growth and release of eggs from the ovaries (ovulation). Insulin resistance also may contribute to PCOS.
Let’s take a look at the steps you’ll need to take to overcome the challenges of PCOS, lose weight and gain back your health and your self-esteem.
Meal plan to lose weight naturally with a PCOS diet plan
If you have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), losing weight can be easy. The hormones, insulin resistance, and anxiety make it hard to shed pounds. But, with a proper PCOS diet plan, you can eliminate all of the symptoms and still lose weight.
You don’t need to make any drastic changes. Adjust your current eating habits by adding the following foods to your meals:
Eat three balanced meals each day with low-GI snacks in between if needed.
Limit unhealthy fats such as saturated fats found in fried foods, butter, and processed meats. Choose healthy fats instead such as olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocado.
Choose complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, quinoa, and sweet potatoes over simple carbs like white.
Low Glycemic Carbohydrates
These carbs won’t cause spikes in blood sugar or insulin levels. This is important because a high insulin level encourages your body to store fat instead of burning it. Examples of low-glycemic carbohydrates include rolled oats, sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, barley, and whole-wheat bread.
Because your body can burn protein easier than fat or carbs, you should eat more protein than usual when losing weight with PCOS. Some examples of higher protein foods include eggs, Greek yogurt, chicken breast, fish, and tofu.
While most people think that fats are unhealthy for you when trying to lose weight, you will need them about losing weight with PCOS. Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, are beneficial for PCOS because they help to reduce inflammation and improve insulin resistance. Some good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds.
Sugar is one of the leading causes of insulin resistance, so you must limit your intake when losing weight with PCOS. There are two types of sugar: natural and added. Natural sugars are found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Added sugars are found in processed foods, including white sugar, brown sugar, honey, and syrups.
Cut Out Caffeine
Caffeine can cause anxiety and lead to weight gain. You should cut out caffeine when trying to lose weight with PCOS.
Drink plenty of water
Water helps flush out toxins, keep you hydrated, and boost your metabolism. Make sure to drink at least eight glasses per day.
Regular exercise is essential for everyone, but it is crucial to losing weight with PCOS. Exercise helps to improve insulin resistance and makes it easier for your body to burn fat. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes per day, five days per week.
What can I eat if I have PCOS?
Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are essential for managing PCOS. That’s because weight loss may help improve many PCOS symptoms. It can also reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other complications related to PCOS.
A healthy diet for PCOS includes whole grains, heart-healthy fats, fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products. These include:
Whole grains and unprocessed foods
Eating whole grains instead of refined grains may decrease insulin resistance. Good sources include brown rice, oatmeal, and 100% whole grain bread or pasta.
Choose heart-healthy fats from fish and nuts
These include olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds. Eating these foods may help lower your cholesterol levels, aid in weight loss, and reduce inflammation.
Eat lots of vegetables, especially green vegetables
These are packed with nutrients your body needs for optimal health. They are also high in fiber which helps you feel full longer. Examples include berries, apples, oranges, spinach, and broccoli.
Eat lean protein
Protein helps you feel full and provides your body with the amino acids it needs to function properly. Good sources of lean protein include chicken, fish, tofu, legumes, and eggs.
Eat beans and lentils
Beans and lentils are high in fiber and protein, and they’re low in calories. They can help you lose weight and improve your health. Try black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, lentils, and split peas.
Eat a few refined grains, such as white flour
Even though refined grains are not as healthy as whole grains, they can still be a part of a healthy diet. Just make sure to limit your intake and choose healthier options, such as white bread that is made with whole wheat flour.
Limit processed food, such as fast food and frozen entrees
Processed foods are high in unhealthy fats, sodium, and sugar. They can also be low in nutrients. Avoid these foods as much as possible when trying to lose weight with PCOS.
Cut down on saturated fat from red meat and full-fat dairy foods
These include fatty cuts of meat, full-fat dairy products, and processed meats. Saturated fat can increase your risk of heart disease and other health problems. Choose leaner cuts of meat and low-fat or fat-free dairy products instead.
Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit juices
Sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit juices are high in sugar and calories. They can also contribute to weight gain. Drink water or unsweetened iced tea instead.
High blood sugar levels are related to PCOS because they can cause insulin resistance and increase testosterone production.
The best PCOS weight-loss diets include healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish, whole grains, nuts, beans, legumes, seeds, and other plant-based proteins.
Vitamin D improves PCOS side effects by increasing insulin sensitivity and decreasing inflammation.
Eating processed foods can be unhealthy for people with PCOS because they often contain refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, and other additives that may trigger insulin spikes and increase blood sugar levels. However, some foods can help balance hormones when consumed in moderation.