Losing Weight with PCOS
This is a very difficult area for overweight women with PCOS who are constantly told by their care providers that they must lose weight. The very disease that is worsened by the excess weight conspires against them in this quest, making weight loss more difficult than usual.
There is no one-shot, sure fire answer and the key is a combination of strict calorie reduction combined with aerobic exercise as part of a supervised programme. You can suggest that liposuction abdominal is the usual last option for women who have PCOS.
Does My Weight Really Affect Me?
Many women with PCOS find that they have issues with their weight. In fact, 50% to 60% of women with PCOS are considered to be obese, making weight loss an important issue for these women.
However, because of PCOS, regular weight loss plans, particularly those that promise fast weight loss, may not be effective.
Weight loss is necessary for those women that are suffering from PCOS and are overweight or obese. Being obese has been linked to an increased risk of numerous health problems including:
- Hormonal imbalance
- Irregular periods
- Heart Disease
- High cholesterol
Yet, the risk for these problems is compounded by PCOS – obese women with PCOS are seven times more likely to develop diabetes or heart disease. Why? Because of insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance causes your LDL and triglyceride levels ("bad" cholesterol) to increase, while decreasing your levels of HDL ("good" cholesterol). And since women with PCOS and insulin resistance already have a hard time with insulin production, the likelihood of developing diabetes is significantly increased. Furthermore, insulin resistance can contribute to weight gain and make losing weight difficult, which can be very frustrating for PCOS sufferers.
How Losing Weight Helps
By losing weight, through diet and exercise, women affected by PCOS are more likely to have:
- Regular periods
- More ovulatory cycles
- Reduced hairiness
- Stabilized hormone levels
- Reduced risk of heart disease
Most importantly, though, weight loss will contribute to lowering insulin levels. Because high insulin levels has been found to contribute significantly to the many PCOS symptoms, reducing your insulin levels should result in an improvement in acne and hirsutism as well as decrease your risk for heart disease and diabetes.
Because weight loss has shown to have such a significant affect on the symptoms of PCOS, experts are now recommending that following a healthy diet and getting regular exercise be used as a first line treatment. However, in some cases, drugs like Metformin may still be prescribed. Also find out other ways to monitor your PCOS and manage your periods.
On the Path to Weight Loss
Although reducing your weight to fall into a "normal" or "average" category may be a long-term goal, it is not always necessary to lose a significant amount of weight before you notice an improvement in your PCOS symptoms.
Studies have shown that losing between 5% and 10% of your body weight is often enough to ease the symptoms of PCOS. But how do you lose that weight?
Because carbohydrates are often linked to high insulin levels, women with PCOS are typically recommended to follow a low glycemic index diet.
Foods in this type of diet do not cause a quick rise and fall in blood sugar levels and therefore help to prevent elevated insulin levels. Since carbohydrates are the main culprit behind rising insulin levels, many women may be tempted to cut out carbs from their diet or follow a low carb diet, such as the Atkins diet.
This is not necessary, though, and may not even be healthy as these diet sometimes contain too much saturated fat, which has been linked to heart disease.
There is nothing wrong with having carbohydrates in your diet so long as they are the right kind of carbs. Instead of choosing starchy, processed carbs, which contribute to high insulin levels causing your blood sugar to remain low while you crave more carbs, opt for whole grain carbohydrates.
Because they have more fibre in them, they take longer for your body to turn into sugar and therefore have a low gylcemic index.
Carbs: How Much is Too Much?
It is difficult to say precisely what is the right proportion of carbohydrates for women with PCOS as each woman is different and has their own dietary needs.
Some experts, however, suggest that women that are overweight and affected by PCOS try reducing their daily carbohydrates intake to 40% of their diet. If no changes are noticed, then try reducing your daily carb intake a little more until you detect an improvement.
If you become aware of any of the following changes, then it is likely that you have found the right balance of carbohydrates for you:
- You have more energy
- You have fewer cravings
- You notice some weight loss
- Your insulin levels are lower
- Your periods become more regular
However, you may not need to reduce your carbohydrate intake too much. A study at the University of Alabama in the United States found that women with PCOS that consumed a diet comprised of 43% carbohydrates had reduced insulin levels and less insulin response to carbs.
Your carbohydrate intake is not the only thing to be concerned about when it comes to losing weight, though. You will also need to be careful of the amount of calories you consume.
Consuming too many calories will result in weight gain, regardless of whether the calories come from a fat, carbohydrate or protein source. Additionally, try to eat your carbs with protein or fat and avoid consuming all of your carbs at one time, which can lead to a spike in your insulin levels rather than gradually rising over the course of the day.
More than Just a Diet
While a change in your diet can ease your PCOS symptoms and help you lose weight, you are likely to notice more improvement if you combine your healthy diet with regular exercise.
Exercise has been shown to aid in weight loss by helping you burn more calories as well as lowering your blood pressure and increasing your HDL levels. Aim to engage in some form of aerobic exercise at least three times a week.
In addition to aerobic exercise, weight training is also recommended. Although many women shy away from weight training for fear of bulking up, exercising with low weights and doing higher repetitions of an exercise will actually help tone your muscles.
Better yet, because muscles burn more calories than fat, building up your muscle will help you burn more calories throughout the day, even while you are resting. Furthermore, weight training helps to build up bone density, which can prevent osteoporosis later on.
If you are interested in learning more about how changing your diet can help your PCOS, ask your GP for a referral to a dietician to discuss the optimum diet for you.
Remember, getting weight into the normal range and maintaining it there should be considered a lifelong process, rather than a short-term fix. This will help ensure that you maintain the weight you lose and the healthy lifestyle that helped you achieve it.
Also find out how soda can aggrevate your condition.
Check out our list of references and support for PCOS.