Losing Weight With PCOS: 10 Best Ways

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If your polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) has caused weight gain, you may feel that losing weight with PCOS is impossible. However, this is not the case. Weight loss is a simple function of calories in versus calories out. Jillian Michaels is an American personal trainer made famous for her appearance in The Biggest Loser. She was extremely overweight growing up and diagnosed with PCOS. However, she lost the excess weight and has successfully kept it off ever since through a healthy diet and exercise routine.

Losing weight with PCOS is simply a matter of consuming fewer calories than your body burns on a daily basis. However, the condition makes it difficult if you fail to get your hormones in check. Today, we will discuss the importance of losing weight when you suffer from PCOS, why women tend to gain weight when they develop PCOS, and 10 tips on how to lose weight with this condition.

What Is Losing Weight With PCOS?

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Losing weight with PCOS is difficult, but far from impossible. It is important to lose weight when you have PCOS because of the unique risks associated with it. Weight gain with PCOS is caused by an excess of androgens which causes women to put on more weight around their abdomen rather than their hips, breasts, and thighs. Abdominal fat increases your risk for such conditions such as heart disease and stroke. Being overweight increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and PCOS also increases your insulin resistance, so it is especially important to maintain a healthy weight when you suffer from PCOS. Weight loss with PCOS will also mitigate your risk of the following conditions:

  • Hypertension
  • Sleep apnea
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Infertility
  • High cholesterol
  • Acne
  • Irregular menses

The Best Ways To Lose Weight When You Have PCOS

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There are many effective methods for losing weight with PCOS. However, it is important that every lifestyle change you make to lose weight is sustainable. Otherwise, it is impossible for you to maintain your weight loss. Today, we will discuss the 10 most sustainable methods of losing weight with PCOS.

Get Adequate Sleep

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Research shows if you sleep fewer than five hours nightly, your body produces more ghrelin, the hormone responsible for feeling hungry. Similarly, your body produces less leptin, the hormone responsible for keeping you feeling satiated. In contrast, sleeping at least seven hours per night helps your fat cells properly respond to insulin. This is crucial for losing weight with PCOS because the condition causes you to become insulin-resistant.

Eat More Veggies

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Vegetables are so low in calories, that when prepared properly, you cannot overeat them. They are extremely nutrient dense, high in water, and loaded with fiber. Micronutrients found in food are also much easier for your body to digest and process than from supplements. If you have one, go to your local farmer's market. Depending on where you live, you can pick up tons of great produce for salads including spinach, blueberries, corn, avocados, and strawberries. Eat produce when it is in season whenever possible.

Eat Mindfully

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It is easy to overeat when we fail to recognize how much we are eating. There are several tricks you can use to eat mindfully. Try eating with your non-dominant hand. If you are ambidextrous, put down your eating utensils after every bite. Do not eat out of a container such as a box or bag. If you are eating a snack, place the food in a bowl or on a plate. This allows you to see clearly what size portion you are eating. Once you clear your plate, do not go back for more. Savor each bite of food you take. Try to name each flavor as you are eating it and concentrate on how it feels in your mouth.

Eat Fewer Processed Carbs

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One effect of PCOS is that your body becomes resistant to insulin. Examples of processed carbs include sugar, pasta, cereal, and sandwich breads. To reduce these products, use cauliflower rice, brown rice, or quinoa instead of white rice. Make homemade zucchini or spaghetti squash pasta instead of the processed pasta you buy at the store. You can also make homemade pasta with whole wheat flour, water, and an egg. Replace wraps and tortillas with lettuce leaves and dip celery and carrots into homemade guacamole and salsa. Try plain, full-fat Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and local honey instead of a bowl of highly processed cereal.

Add HIIT Workouts 

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HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a special type of cardiovascular exercise that revs your metabolism long after you finish working out. This type of exercise increases insulin sensitivity and builds muscle as well. A simple, accessible example of a HIIT session is alternating brisk walking and sprinting. The idea is to perform extremely intense exercises for short bursts and continue moderate activity as your body recovers from the high-intensity activity.

Liquid Calories Count

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Perhaps the biggest reason people fail when trying to lose weight with PCOS is they fail to count liquid calories. When trying to lose weight, drink water, coffee, and green tea without any added sweeteners. You may think you have earned a smoothie after a long workout session at the gym, but smoothies can contain over 1,000 calories, most of which come from added sugar. Avoid specialty coffees, commercially prepared protein shakes and smoothies, fruit juice, soda, and most alcoholic beverages.

Weight Loss Is A Marathon

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Avoid diets saturated with hype. These crash diets that make universal promises such as "Lose 10 pounds in 10 days!" are based around the premise that if you reduce your carbohydrate intake, you will lose water weight. However, you have to ensure the changes you make to lose weight are sustainable. It is advisable, therefore, to avoid these crash diets.

Learn To Cook 

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Learning to cook is one of the key strategies to success when losing weight with PCOS. Cooking at home is a great way to save money, and because you control the preparation, you can cut lots of unnecessary calories without compromising flavor. Learn how to roast vegetables, cook a grain dish, make a soup or stew, bake poultry, and broil seafood. Once you learn the basics of how to cook, you may find yourself motivated to try other types of seafood or poultry than normal or use different spices to make your chicken taste as if it came from an exotic land. For example, add oregano to make a dish taste Italian. Add cumin, cilantro, and chili powder to the same base ingredients and suddenly you are transported to Mexico.

Exercise In The Morning 

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The most commonly cited reason for not exercising is inadequate time. Make exercising your first priority. If it is the first thing you need to accomplish each day, it will get done. If you are not an early riser, make your morning workout a HIIT workout. You get a much higher-quality workout in a very short period of time. You can have an effective workout in as little as 10 minutes! Exercise increases your endorphins, hormones responsible for easing pain and making you happy. It will take 21 days to make a habit of an early morning workout, but once it is a habit, you will sorely miss the opportunity to exercise when you travel. Work out at home to eliminate the necessity to drive to the gym and use public showers.

Walk More 

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Walking is a great cardiovascular exercise because everyone can do it and it doesn't cost a cent. To add more steps into your daily routine, park as far as you can from store entrances. If you are a mom, walk around the field or court while waiting for your kids to finish their sports practice. Walk during commercials while watching TV, or whenever you are talking on the phone. Those who sit for fewer than three hours daily are 40% less likely to die in the next 15 years than those who sit for over six hours daily. Companies are now offering non-smokers six extra days of vacation to make up for not taking smoking breaks. Why not take a walking break when your co-workers step out for a cigarette?

Conclusion

Losing weight with PCOS is not impossible. All it takes is a little willpower. Jillian Michaels is the perfect counter-example to those who claim weight loss with PCOS is impossible. Not only is she at a healthy weight now, but she was dangerously overweight in the past. Gaining weight with PCOS is common due to increased insulin resistance leading to an excess of androgens, but it comes with particularly dangerous health risks. These include increased risk of stroke and heart disease. Other negative effects include irregular menses and acne.


To lose weight with PCOS, make small, sustainable changes. It takes 21 days to make or break a habit, but remember, weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint. Make one small change a month and in less than a year you will be living a healthy lifestyle with adequate nutrition and cardiovascular exercise. PCOS is not a crutch. It is not an excuse. The only thing stopping you from losing weight with polycystic ovary syndrome is yourself.

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