PCOS And How It Effects Weight Loss
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition characterized by hormonal imbalances, irregular periods, and/or the development of small cysts on one or both ovaries. If you have been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and find it hard to lose weight, you are not alone. The hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance, and inflammation related to PCOS make it difficult for women to lose weight.
Even a small weight loss of approximately 5% can improve insulin resistance, hormone levels, menstrual cycles, fertility, and overall quality of life in women with PCOS (1). But those with this syndrome know it’s not that easy. So here are some helpful tips for losing weight if you have PCOS.
Eat protein at every meal
Eating protein at every meal is important for everyone, but especially for women with PCOS. This is because protein helps stabilise blood sugar and increases feelings of fullness after a meal.
In one study by Sørensen, L. B. et al (2012), 57 women with PCOS were given either a high-protein diet (more than 40% of calories from protein and 30% from fat) or a standard diet consisting of less than 15% protein and 30% fat (2).
Women in the high-protein group lost an average of 4.4 kg after 6 months, which was significantly more than those in the control group.
If you’re not getting enough protein, try to add at least a palm size of protein to each main meal. This includes lean meats, poultry, eggs, seafood or have a smoothie with the Slim Mama Shake. One scoop of Slim Mama Shake (made as directed) has 24g of protein! A great way to start your day!
Both cardio and weight training exercises may help drop body fat and improve insulin sensitivity, which in turn helps with PCOS symptoms and weight loss. In one study by Kogure, G. S. et al (2016), 45 women with PCOS did weight training 3 times a week. After about 4 months, they lost fat around their midsection and gained lean body mass. They also saw a reduction in testosterone levels and blood sugar levels.
If you can’t get to the gym, don’t sweat it (no pun intended) - bodyweight exercises like squats, push-ups, lunges and tricep dips at home can do the job!
Moderate cardio-based exercise like brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming are also great activities that can help with PCOS. These types of exercise increase the body's sensitivity to insulin, which reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Trying to do 30 minutes or more a day can help with weight management, symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as improving the frequency of menstrual cycles and ovulation.
In conclusion, be active!
Ensure you have enough fibre
If you haven’t already gathered, insulin resistance is bad for women with PCOS, and everyone actually, but especially if you have PCOS. That's why it’s important to have a diet high in fibre as this can help combat insulin resistance by slowing down digestion and reducing the impact of sugar on the blood. Great options for high-fibre foods include: cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower & broccoli), the SIim Mama Shake (7g per scoop), legumes, kiwifruit, dates, peas, and brussels sprouts.
Have healthy fats
Thanks to the 1990’s, and fear mongering, many people are scared of fats because they don't want to put on weight. However, increasing healthy fats in your diet is a great way to keep you full, and can help your body absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fats also help with healthy female hormone levels. So it’s imperative that fats are included in the diet.
Just as a reminder, healthy fats mean foods like avocado, salmon, mackerel, sardines, butter, and olive oil.
In saying that though, fats have 9 calories per gram! So portion control is important when it comes to fats. For example, one serve of avocado is 1 tablespoon, one serve of nuts in 8-10 individual nuts, and one serve of olive oil is 1 tsp!
Reduce added sugar and a high carb diet
Lowering your carb consumption may help manage PCOS due to carbs’ impact on insulin levels. But please don’t CUT out carbs - cutting out carbs means cutting out a food group which can result in nutrient deficiencies. The main aim is to focus on complex carbohydrates and low GI carb sources.
In one study by Barr, S. et al (2013), they had women eat their normal diet for 12 weeks, then a low-GI diet for 12 weeks. Their insulin sensitivity was significantly better during the low-GI phase, so it’s definitely worth a try if you have PCOS.
Don’t know what foods are low-GI? Or what low GI is? Here are a list and a little summary.
The glycaemic index (GI) is a way of ranking carbohydrate containing foods based on how slowly or quickly they are digested and increase blood sugar levels over a period of time, usually about two hours.
The glycemic index (GI) is a scale of 1–100. Each food gets a score, and the lower the score, the longer that food takes to raise your blood sugar levels.
The GI score indicates how quickly carbohydrate containing foods increase blood sugar levels, compared with pure glucose (sugar). Carbohydrate containing foods are compared with this reference to assign their GI. This ensures all foods compared have the same amount of carbohydrate, gram for gram.
The GI score for glucose, and white bread, is 100. Here is how the scale works:
- low-GI foods score under 55
- medium-GI foods score 55–70
- high-GI foods score above 70
Low GI Foods
Fruits (Limit 1-2 Fruits/day): apples, apricots, blueberries, cranberries, grapefruit, peaches, plums, tangerine, tomato juice, blackberries, pears, prunes, raspberries, strawberries.
Beans and Legumes: black eyed peas, butter beans, chick peas, green beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, lentils, lima beans, navy beans, snow peas, hummus.
Vegetables: sweet potato, taro, sweet corn, asparagus, artichoke, avocado, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, greens, lettuce, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, okra, onions, spinach, summer squash, zucchini, turnips.
Grains: barley, rye, bulgur, wild rice, wheat tortilla, wheat pasta, mixed grain bread, low GI white bread, quinoa, rice noodles, rice pasta, weetbix, all bran.
Nuts, olives and oils: almonds, peanuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, olives walnuts, oils that are liquid at room temperature.
Dairy: skim milk, soy milk, almond milk, low fat cheese, yogurt (low fat or greek).
NOTE: foods are only assigned a GI value if they contain carbs. Foods without carbs won’t be found on GI lists. Examples of those foods include: