Healthcare providers often recommend that women with PCOS who are overweight lose weight. For those with PCOS, weight loss often improves health, and reduces the amount and intensity of PCOS symptoms. It can also negatively impact a woman’s chance of conceiving. All of these factors make weight loss an essential part of many PCOS management plans.
Why weight loss is hard with PCOS
PCOS makes weight loss a little more difficult, in a few ways.
- Fat storage: Women with PCOS tend to store more fat than do those without it due to the body’s production of higher than normal levels of insulin
- Slower metabolism: PCOS also affects the metabolism, meaning that women with PCOS might need fewer calories than non-PCOS women each day.
- Appetite regulation: Some studies also suggest that women with PCOS have disturbed appetite regulation, meaning that they feel less satisfied between meals and have stronger cravings for sweet foods. All of these things make it harder for women with PCOS to lose a significant amount of weight.
Despite all of this, though, weight loss with PCOS is still very much possible, and it’s believed that losing just 5% of body weight can have a major impact on the likelihood of conceiving. It just takes some lifestyle changes, new habits, and perseverance.
Tips for weight loss
What works for one woman won’t necessarily work for another, but there are some tried-and-true weight loss tips that just about every woman with PCOS can get behind.
- Talk to a nutritionist: You don’t have to do this alone. In fact, a nutritionist could be very helpful in advising you how to adjust your diet while still eating foods that you like. Your provider might have already told you what foods to avoid (like processed carbs) and which ones to eat more of (like fresh fruits and veggies), but a nutritionist could give you some extra pointers and meal plans.
- Count calories: Calorie counting is a great way to learn how many calories you eat in a day, and to reduce that number for weight loss. It can be tedious at first, but there are some apps and websites that can make it much easier.
- Don’t eat in front of the television, computer, or while driving: Distracted eating is one of the easiest ways to consume extra calories. Even if you’re snacking, try to pay as much attention as possible to your food, and you’ll likely eat less. Sounds simple, but it really helps.
- Don’t drink your calories: Try to swap in diet soda, seltzer water, sugar-free juice, or coconut water as replacements for soda or full-sugar juices, which often contain over 100 calories per serving.
- Walk, walk, walk: Adding more walking to your day doesn’t just give you more time to process your day, listen to a podcast, or work on your tan. It’s great for weight loss, too. Walking burns calories, improves cholesterol levels, and improves insulin sensitivity.
- Get enough sleep: It’s not uncommon for women with PCOS to be under a lot of stress, which tends to lead to sleepless nights. But sleep is essential for weight loss, and for good health in general, so be strict with yourself about bedtimes. Your body needs them!
Weight loss with PCOS might be a little harder than it would be without PCOS, but the idea shouldn’t seem too daunting. There are a number of simple ways that you can modify your lifestyle to lose weight, improve your PCOS symptoms, and reduce your risk of future complications. If you’re still not sure, talk to your provider; he or she will be happy to help you start.
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