It is a challenge to manage weight with PCOS. So, here’s a brief guide to help you.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal condition that affects an estimated 8–13% of reproductive-aged women worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), having PCOS is associated with many long-term problems including disrupted menstrual cycles, infertility, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.
Aside from these, another one of the most common manifestations of PCOS is weight gain and having a higher risk of developing obesity.
Weight loss in itself is already a challenging endeavor. But PCOS presents biological limitations that make it more difficult to shed extra pounds. Managing weight with PCOS is not impossible, though. And we’ve compiled a few ways to help you build the right habits to support your goals.
1. Observe a specialized diet.
All bodies work differently, and what works for some PCOS patients may not have the same effect on you. So, it’s important that you create a diet that is right for you. Generally, though, it’s important for women with PCOS to eat food that combats insulin resistance and lowers blood sugar since this is one of the primary causes of weight gain.
Healthline recommends that PCOS-friendly diets should include high-fiber vegetables, lean protein, and anti-inflammatory food to aid with your weight loss. This includes food like broccoli, leafy greens, tofu, fish, and pumpkin. Not only do fiber-rich foods increase the feeling of satiation. They also help prevent blood sugar spikes, which can cause the body to store fat inefficiently.
Women with PCOS should also focus on consuming low-glycemic foods. These are foods that do not cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. These help to regulate insulin levels and promote weight loss. Some of these low-glycemic foods include raw carrots, kidney beans, chickpeas, and lentils.
Another important aspect of this specialized diet is avoiding inflammatory foods. Inflammation is a common factor in PCOS and can contribute to weight gain and insulin resistance. Therefore, it is important to limit the consumption of processed foods, sugary drinks, and trans fats. These foods can inflame the body and even encourage food binging.
2. Engage in physical activity.
Exercise has a lot of benefits for women with PCOS since it can lower blood sugar levels and prevent insulin resistance. In addition to this, research from BMC Public Health found that exercise has positive effects on the reproductive functions of women with PCOS.
This is extremely helpful as the aforementioned patients tend to have a harder time conceiving. Regular exercise can also help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of developing diabetes. These are all important considerations for individuals with PCOS who are at an increased risk of these conditions.
When it comes to choosing the right type of physical activity to help you manage weight with PCOS, it is important to focus on a combination of aerobic exercises, strength training, and flexibility exercises.
Aerobic exercises, such as walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming, can help burn calories and improve cardiovascular health. Strength training, such as weightlifting or resistance exercises, can help in building muscle mass. In turn, it can boost metabolism and aid in weight loss.
Flexibility exercises such as yoga or stretching can help improve flexibility, reduce muscle tension, and enhance overall physical and mental well-being.
3. Inquire about using medication.
As an endocrine disorder, PCOS makes it hard to lose weight using traditional methods that only target diet and exercise. This is where PCOS weight loss medication comes in, as they target the biological limitations that affect your ability to lose weight and see results effectively.
For instance, metformin is a medication often used to treat type 2 diabetes. But it can also be used to help manage weight in women with PCOS. It works by improving the body’s response to insulin and helping to lower blood sugar levels, ultimately aiding in weight loss. This medication also has the added benefit of positively supporting ovulation, which is another common struggle among women with PCOS.
Alternatively, you can also use prescription drugs such as Ozempic, which have skyrocketed in popularity since a number of celebrities and public figures saw desirable weight loss effects upon taking the drug. This drug is also primarily used to treat type 2 diabetes but has shown very promising results when it comes to aiding in weight loss. It works by mimicking a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) that helps regulate blood sugar levels and also plays a role in appetite and food intake.
With the many different options for prescription medications, it is important to remember that individuals have different factors to consider when it comes to the treatment of any symptoms. This is why it is necessary to consult with a medical professional to get the right prescription that addresses your PCOS weight gain.
4. Have a good support system.
Losing weight is a difficult challenge. But having a reliable support system can make it easier to implement the necessary lifestyle changes.
First and foremost, it is essential for women with PCOS to have a supportive healthcare team in place. Regular check-ins with this team can help you stay on track with your weight management goals. They can also provide you with the necessary guidance and support as you navigate the challenges of living with PCOS.
In addition, having a strong community of family and friends can also be instrumental for this as they can provide you with encouragement and motivation. This can be crucial for sticking to a healthy diet and exercise routine.
Having someone to lean on during difficult times can also help alleviate the emotional toll that often comes with managing PCOS-related weight issues.
Our post Simple Tips for Long-Term Weight Loss also emphasizes the importance of having a support network. Not only can a support system provide similar encouragement as your loved ones when you encounter difficulties or demotivation, but they understand the struggle brought by having PCOS and give you emotional comfort.
A support system also fosters a sense of accountability for your weight loss goals. They can do this by reminding you to curb unhealthy habits such as overeating when you’re upset or by doing workouts with you to help keep you on track with your weight loss goals.
Manage weight with PCOS by building the right habits.
The right habits – healthy habits, will definitely help you lose unnecessary pounds and fight PCOS. So, start building the right habits. Then make sure you have a strong support system to lean on when the going gets tough.
And remind yourself not to rush things. Do it gradually. Build on one habit at a time. For you will more likely sustain these lifestyle changes when you do it slowly.