Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal condition that affects women of reproductive age. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 8-13% of women worldwide are affected by PCOS, while around 70% of women who experience symptoms remain undiagnosed. PCOS manifests in many ways, however, the common signs and symptoms of PCOS include irregular menstrual cycles, infertility, excess hair growth, ovarian cysts, acne, and weight gain.
Of the symptoms associated with PCOS, weight gain is one of the most challenging to address as it deals with complex factors like biology. As such, around 50% of PCOS patients experience gradual weight gain that could lead to obesity and its related complications. Fortunately, managing stubborn PCOS-related weight gain is doable by adopting certain strategies to reduce the effects of the condition on the body. With this, here are some PCOS-friendly tips to help you lose weight.
Focus On A Nutrient-Rich Diet
One of the most important aspects of weight loss is nutrition, and this rings true for PCOS patients, too. While there is no standard diet that PCOS patients should follow, eating foods that can regulate their blood sugar and insulin levels can help lead to weight loss. This is because those with PCOS often have insulin resistance, which makes it difficult to shed extra pounds and leads to hormonal disruptions.
Some of the best foods to incorporate in a nutrient-rich diet for PCOS include leafy greens, lean meat like poultry and fish, nuts, tomatoes, and fruits like berries. These foods help you feel full for longer while also combating insulin resistance by reducing the effect of sugar on the blood.
Incorporate More Movement
Exercise is beneficial for everyone, especially those looking to lose weight, but it can further support the overall health of those with PCOS. Physical movement aids with weight loss since it increases your muscle mass, which boosts your metabolism and lets your body burn more calories in a day. These benefits are also great for managing the weight gain symptoms of PCOS, as exercise can balance hormones by increasing the release of endorphins and decreasing insulin and androgens.
More balanced hormones also benefit other PCOS symptoms like irregular menstrual cycles and acne. In the long run, fitness can prevent obesity from developing. By lowering your risk of being obese, you’re less likely to suffer from chronic ailments like diabetes and hypertension that can further exacerbate PCOS manifestations.
Consider Medication Options
Weight loss is generally considered to be a challenging endeavor since factors like age, lifestyle, diet, and medical conditions make it difficult to see lasting results. In line with this, some people may need medical interventions to address biological limitations, like PCOS, that hinder progress.
These weight loss drugs are strictly doctor-prescribed and can be given to eligible PCOS patients. One popular medication is metformin for weight loss, as it’s a drug used for insulin resistance and blood sugar spikes, which PCOS patients are prone to experience. The drug helps regulate insulin levels in the body and also works to suppress appetite to avoid overeating. Furthermore, metformin has a positive effect on the gut microbiome to support better metabolism for weight loss. Other possible prescriptions are semaglutide weight loss drugs, as these have also been found to have anti-inflammatory and insulin-regulating effects that can help you lose weight.
Prioritize Stress Management
In addition to nutrition, exercise, and medication, caring for your mental health is also essential in weight loss for those with PCOS. This is because stress increases the production of androgens and cortisol in the body. Since androgens are male sex hormones, having too many of them can worsen the hormonal imbalance that triggers weight gain in PCOS. Furthermore, cortisol is a stress hormone that stimulates fat production and could elevate your cravings for sweet and salty food, lending itself to more weight gain.
Stress management looks different for everyone, but it’s generally recommended to engage in activities that put your mind at ease. This can include watching films or shows, reading, crocheting, and simply resting. You can also try mindfulness techniques like journaling, meditation, and taking light walks to help manage your stress and alleviate PCOS symptoms.