Losing weight With PCOS
Losing weight isn’t an easy task to anyone. The journey is filled with lots of challenges that can quickly make you give up and quit the whole process. For women with PCOS, this journey is even tougher. Doctors are always keen to tell women with PCOS to lose weight, but they still fail to give out guidelines on how exactly this can be achieved. As a result, most women end up struggling to get their bodies in shape, and some usually end up trying some other more invasive ways (which isn’t very recommended) of shedding off that extra weight. We are here to tell you that there is a much safer way of losing the stubborn weight typical in women with PCOS. Before proceeding, it is perhaps best if you first understand why exactly it is so challenging to lose weight when you have polycystic ovarian syndrome symptoms.
What is polycystic ovarian syndrome?
The polycystic ovarian syndrome is a prevalent condition among women in the childbearing age. The disease is marked by hormonal imbalances where women end up having excessive male hormones. This imbalance interferes with normal body functioning and has been linked to issues such as fertility problems and insulin resistance or reduced sensitivity to insulin. As a result, women with PCOS are usually susceptible to diseases such as diabetes, sleep apnea, uterine cancer, heart diseases, etc. The women also often end up being obese or overweight.
Some of the common symptoms of PCOS is acne and irregular hair growth.
Why is it difficult for people with PCOS to lose weight?
It is so easy for a physician to ask you to lose weight to improve your PCOS symptoms but have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to achieve this? We know of women with PCOS who have spent months battling weight loss unsuccessfully, and this is very frustrating. What exactly is it that PCOS does to our bodies which makes losing weight almost impossible? This should help you understand this condition more:
- Increased insulin resistance
Insulin is a crucial hormone involved in the metabolism of glucose. It helps in controlling sugar levels in our blood. Insulin is also responsible for the transportation of sugar to body muscles. When insulin levels are too high than demanded our bodies usually respond by storing the excess in the form of fat. This results in adipose which in the end increases your overall weight.
Studies have shown that women suffering from PCOS have problems secreting insulin. This condition affects beta cells that are tasked with the detection of sugar levels in the bloodstream and hence when they malfunction your body is unable to know whether there is excess or insufficient sugar. In the end, your body could secrete too much insulin exceeding the demands. More glucose will hence end up being stored as fat.
PCOS has also been associated with insulin resistance. To counter the problem your body ends up secreting more insulin which consequently leads to excess adipose being deposited in your body. Excessive production of insulin will also cause the production of testosterone, a male sex hormone which will worsen your PCOS symptoms.
- Slowed Metabolism
Clinical studies have shown that women with PCOS had a much slower metabolic rate compared to their healthy counterparts. Basal metabolic rate or the amount of calories needed for proper body functioning is much lower in women with PCOS than those without. It is recorded that healthy women could need around 1868 calories per day, while those with PCOS need 1445 calories. If PCOS has already built insulin resistance in your system, then the calories required will be much lower. What does this mean? This means that slow metabolism in women with PCOS significantly reduces their demand for calories even though their cravings could be much higher than those of an average woman. Also, the slower the metabolism, the more the time spent on fats, carbs and other ingredients in your system and this results in even more fat being stored.
- Loss of appetite control
Leptin, ghrelin, and cholecystokinin are some of the hormones responsible for controlling appetite and hunger. Research shows that PCOS affects the performance of these hormones and hence women with this condition are incapable of feeling satiated or full after eating. They are thus likely to continue feeling hungry which will lead to excessive and unnecessary eating that leads to weight gain.
How to lose weight with PCOS
The challenges in losing weight with PCOS are tough, but it doesn’t make it impossible. Here are some of the tips that will help you beat the monster that is PCOS to achieve your dream body:
- Proper Dieting
Dieting is crucial in weight loss regardless of the cause. For PCOS patients, one of the dieting measures that they should take is cutting down the consumption of processed carbohydrates. Do your best to avoid foods such as sugar, pasta, sandwich bread, and cereals. These meals will only overfeed you without nourishing your body. Instead, look for some beans, vegetables, and fruits.
You are also advised to increase the number of proteins consumed a little bit more than carbohydrates. A 2011 study following women with PCOS established that women who consumed a diet rich in more proteins (40% and above protein calories and only 30% from fat) witnessed a more significant weight loss impact than the placebo who were under a standard diet.
Be on the watch out against liquid calories. High-calorie beverages will have you consuming too many calories without feeling satiated. This will increase the number of calories in the body making it difficult for you to lose weight. Some of the drinks discouraged include soda, fruit juice, alcoholic beverages and some commercial protein shakes and smoothies.
We just can’t stress enough how essential exercising is in naturally achieving any weight loss. The difficulty in losing weight when suffering from PCOS may make you feel like giving up, but it is in your best interest to keep pushing because with a proper diet and decent exercising plan you’ll get the best weight loss results. Start your morning with a gym session or a run, and you can even include a few minutes for several squats. You can also add walking instead of driving or other means of transport in your daily routine activities. This should help your body in cutting down the extra fat.
High-intensity cardio training will also help in more than just burning your calories. This type of training will improve your insulin sensitivity and even leave you a lot fitter than before.
- Get sufficient sleep
Lack of adequate sleep can lead to significant health issues including obesity. When your body is not getting enough sleep, hormonal imbalance can happen in your body affecting hormones responsible for controlling hunger. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, insufficient sleep could also lead to obesity due to the expression of inherited genes. The recommended amount of sleep is 8 hours. Get rid of any distractions that can reduce this amount and you’ll be able to enjoy more than just weight loss.
- Reduce Stress
Stress is a barrier to so many things. It is argued that nothing good can ever be achieved when you are stressed up or troubled in the head. A stressful mind will prevent you from concentrating on your diet, workouts and this will impact your weight loss program. Too much stress will even lead to anxiety and other issues and with such problems chances of emotional eating are very high. Find a way of managing your stress levels through, e.g., meditation, yoga, breathing techniques, journaling, etc.
- Quit Smoking
Smoking is terrible habit associated with dozens of health hazards. The University Hospital of Erlangen located in Germany undertook a study in 2009 to investigate the impact of smoking on various body functions where they came across something worrying. They noticed that smoking resulted in an increase in testosterone in women with PCOS and it also elevated insulin levels. These two are some of the most prominent factors behind the weight loss problem women with PCOS experience. You should hence try as much as possible to quit smoking and using any other drugs.
- Seek support
As you can already tell, losing weight when you have PCOS is quite demanding. It seeks to change your lifestyle and diet all of which can be too much for you to handle. You, however, don’t have to face all of this alone. You can seek different kinds of support including professional help. Here, you will look for a qualified and reliable physician who you can consult and schedule regular appointments with. In these appointments, he/she can give you a diet and workout plan and even prescriptions if necessary.
You can also seek help from a friend who’ll keep you accountable. They should assist you in making sure that you adequately follow the gym plan and adhere to the necessary diet. This will see you enjoy excellent results at a faster rate.
Alexa Bauer has a Master’s degree in nutrition from the University of Maryland and works as a full-time researcher at Swol Headquarters. Alexa Bauer spends her spare time blogging about cardiovascular health and nutrition. She’s specialized in weight loss.