Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), is a hormonal and metabolic condition which commonly affects women of reproductive age. Individuals with PCOS typically have elevated androgen levels (male sex hormones), as well as other hormonal imbalances, irregular or nonexistent periods, and ovaries with fluid-filled pockets on them. They may experience excess facial hair and acne, difficulty conceiving, and are often overweight or obese. The exact cause of PCOS is unknown.
One of the mainstays of treatment is weight loss, though this can be difficult for those with PCOS. Part of this is due to the elevated insulin levels associated with PCOS. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas to help with blood sugar regulation. It allows the cells to use blood sugar for fuel. If the cells become insulin resistant, it can lead to higher levels of insulin which can lead to inflammation, increased androgen production, and increased fat storage.
So how can you lose weight when struggling with PCOS? Diet, lifestyle, and medication can help with weight loss for those with PCOS and therefore help to improve symptoms and fertility.
From a dietary perspective, focusing on lowering overall carbohydrate intake can help to lower blood sugar and insulin response. We recommend eliminating processed and refined carbohydrates/sugars such as white breads, pastas, cakes, cookies, and soda. Focus on nutrient dense, whole grain sources when consuming carbohydrates. Also when consuming carbohydrates, combine with a fat or protein to help minimize the blood sugar response. In some cases, a ketogenic approach could be recommended where carbohydrates are severally restricted.
From a lifestyle perspective, physical activity can be beneficial. Exercise helps to make cells more sensitive to the insulin produced. Even just adding walks into your day can help to improve insulin sensitivity.
Medication may also be an option to help with weight loss goals when struggling with PCOS. Metformin is a medication which makes cells more sensitive to the insulin produced, therefore lowering the overall insulin load.
If you have PCOS and have been struggling to lose weight despite your efforts, please contact us to help on your journey.