Did you know that 5-10% of women have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)? That means one of every 5 to 10 women you know may have this hormonal disorder. These women usually have higher levels of male hormones and are resistant to insulin, and this usually leads to higher risk to type 2 diabetes, fertility issues, uterine cancer, etc. Because of insulin resistance, many of women with this syndrome struggle with unusual weight gain, and has more difficulty shedding weight compared to other women. Research has also suggested that hormones involved in controlling appetite and hunger aren't regulated properly in some women with PCOS.
Although it is easy to tell any person wanting to lose weight to diet and exercise, it is not as simple or as easy for women struggling with PCOS. That said, it is not all in all impossible. In fact, losing 10% of one’s weight will make a big difference in relieving some of the symptoms of PCOS. So if you are one of these women struggling with PCOS and weight issues, here are some helpful tips.
Sometimes, women with PCOS get frustrated because they eat way below their caloric needs and yet they do not lose weight. As mentioned above, PCOS causes the body to be resistant to insulin. That means the body will have difficulty using insulin to convert sugar and starches to energy. For this reason, the most effective diet for women with PCOS is one that foregoes bad carbs. That means eating mostly complex carbohydrates (no simple carbs like white bread, white rice, sugar etc), one must also eat healthy fats found in foods like avocado, chia seeds, nuts and extra virgin olive oil, and protein from vegetables and lean meats. Skipping unhealthy carbs and eating healthy amounts of protein and fat would also correct one’s appetite/cravings, and if you listen to your body and eat mindfully, you will know when you are full and when you are hungry, and there will be no need to starve yourself.
Although it may seem like your gym buddy is getting more results than you are, building muscles will help your body burn fat faster. In one study where 45 women with PCOS performed weight-training exercises 3 times a week for four months, the subjects lost belly fat and gained lean body mass while reducing testosterone and blood sugar levels.
Stress and lack of sleep are discovered to increase hormones that trigger hunger and fat storage (like gherlin and cortisol). Make sure to have enough sleep and avoid prolonged stress.
Consult your OB-Gyn on how to manage PCOS. Although lifestyle changed can greatly help, sometimes you may need supplements or medicines to help your body in processing insulin etc.
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