Being a woman can be tough. I say this from experience. Our biology can make managing weight more challenging, and increase our risk of certain cancers and heart disease. So it feels a bit like a double whammy for woman also dealing with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
One in ten females of childbearing age are affected by this condition, which is one of the leading causes of female infertility. An imbalance of reproductive hormones leads to symptoms like irregular menstrual periods, thinning scalp hair, acne, weight gain, and growth of unwanted body hair. While it may not be a simple path, research has identified ways to lessen the impact of PCOS. Along with hormonal imbalances, one of the known factors contributing to PCOS symptoms is insulin resistance. Insulin is responsible for helping our bodies use energy from food. When cells become resistant to insulin’s action, levels remain high in the bloodstream. This can make weight management challenging, and increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Making targeted diet changes to lose weight can help improve insulin resistance, as well as ease other PCOS symptoms. In fact, losing even 5-10% of unwanted body weight can result in huge improvements.
But, losing weight can feel like a losing battle with PCOS. What is the most effective way to go about it? Here are a few key tips. First, reduce your carbohydrate intake. Carbs stimulate the release of insulin, and make managing hunger more difficult. The most important carbs to avoid are low fiber starches like white breads & pasta, most snack foods, and anything that is sugar sweetened. Next, be sure to include plenty of lean proteins like fish, chicken, and pork. Research indicates that a higher-protein diet can not only suppress hunger, but also improve the hormonal imbalances that contribute to PCOS symptoms.
Lastly, engaging in regular physical activity supports not only weight loss, but also can help regulate ovulation, and insulin levels. While sometimes slower, it is possible to lose weight with PCOS. Go easy on yourself, and celebrate small victories. For more support, contact a Nutrition Specialist today.