Know Everything About PCOS Weight Loss And Exercise

Making lifestyle modifications such as eating healthy and exercising regularly can not only help lose or maintain weight but also helps improve symptoms of PCOS in the long run.

Posted on April 18, 2022 ·

BY Team Veera

Medically Reviewed

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Let’s admit it, there are days when you want to indulge in your favourite burger and fries instead of following a diet! And waking up early for working out can feel difficult sometimes when all you want to do is go back to sleep for another hour or two – relate much?

Most women with PCOS face difficulty in losing weight. And that is not because you are lazy or are not working towards a healthy lifestyle.

This is because PCOS makes it hard for the body to use a hormone called insulin, and insulin is responsible for breaking down the sugar we consume in our diet daily. When our body is unable to utilize this insulin, sugar builds up in our bloodstream and this can lead to gain of weight and tissue damage too. So, it is true that it is harder to lose weight – but, it is not impossible with the right information! It is possible to lose weight when you closely start looking at what you eat and how you keep yourself active even if it is not rigorous.

The gain of weight due to insulin resistance in PCOS can have a lot of pesky symptoms and women with PCOS may be more likely to develop dangerous long-term complications such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension. When you lose weight steadily and in a sustainable manner, you feel better and stronger mentally and physically. Healthy habits and a healthier lifestyle can help you reverse your PCOS and regularise your periods too.

PCOS Diet: What to eat or what not to eat

For women with PCOS, there are certain foods that need to be avoided and a few that need to be included in the diet. Here are some guidelines for following a PCOS diet plan:

  1. You don’t have to completely eliminate any food groups. You should maintain balance in all the food groups and practice portion control.
  2. It is advised to eat every 3 to 4 hours with PCOS to maintain blood sugar levels. Which means eating breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack in between. Every meal of the day is important to nourish your body with all the necessary nutrients.
  3. Due to the insulin resistance, it is advised that you eat foods that have a low glycemic index. Glycemic index (GI) is the rate at which sugar is released into your blood and so, foods with low GI are recommended so that there is no excessive release of sugar in your bloodstream.
  4. Avoid consuming high GI foods, as high GI foods are rich in refined carbohydrates and can spike your blood sugar levels worsening your insulin resistance. This can make it difficult for you to lose weight.
  5. Consuming more protein and vegetables along with some healthy fats can help you maintain your sugar levels. Tofu, chicken, and fish are high in protein and low in fibre, which makes them an excellent choice for women with PCOS.
  6. A lot of women with PCOS face mood swings and intense food cravings. It may feel very difficult to control these cravings but there are many healthier snacking options available You may also talk to your therapist or doctor to try and understand why and how these cravings come up so that you can deal with them better.

PCOS Exercise types to consider

PCOS exercise is all about following an activity that you will enjoy performing and can sustain in the long run. It is a myth that you need to spend countless hours working out. Performing, slow, weighted movements is beneficial in controlling PCOS symptoms as opposed to high intensity workouts.

Some examples of cardio workout you can perform are walking, running, aerobics, dancing, hiking, or playing any sport.

Some examples of strength workout good for PCOS can be squats, pushups, deadlift, lunges, plank etc. You should alternate between different types of workouts to keep it interesting as well as target different parts of the body.

Performing regular physical activity can help you with:

  1. Reducing insulin resistance
  2. Weight management and weight loss
  3. Improve your mood and overall well-being
  4. Increase energy levels
  5. Improve menstrual regularity and fertility
  6. Improve self-confidence levels and motivation

Whether you have PCOS or not – regular exercise, even 30 minutes a day can improve many areas of your health. As you progress in your fitness journey you can increase the duration and intensity of the workout to keep challenging your body. However, if you are just starting out to exercise – sitting less and moving more is a good place to start.

There is no specific type of exercise that can guarantee weight loss, and hence physical activity in women with PCOS should not be restricted to only a particular set of exercises.

  1. Due to the weight gain experienced by women with PCOS, it can be difficult for them to practice high intensity workout routines. So, it is important to maintain an overall increase in physical activity and gradually go for exercises that you are comfortable with.
  2. Weight loss in PCOS can be slower, but it is healthy for you to be physically active or exercise because it can relieve a lot of symptoms in PCOS and is rewarding to the body in general too.
  3. Losing weight in PCOS is not an overnight ordeal. With consistency and dedication, it can help you achieve a comfortable stage of managing your PCOS.
  4. Cardio, strength training, bodyweight exercises and improving your core strength can help you improve your lifestyle and symptoms.
  5. Choosing an exercise – you will be able to maintain in the long run – is the most effective one. Each individual has different challenges and experiences with weight control, so seeing a nutritionist can help you formulate the right strategy.

To conclude, it might be overwhelming to deal with your diagnosis, symptoms and the advice you receive from the community, but it is essential that you trust your own body and understand its needs. If you are a woman with PCOS, you can significantly lose weight by maintaining a healthy weight, eating healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, and managing sleep schedules, exercising, and managing stress.

Disclaimer: Content on Veera is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, or as a substitute for medical advice given by a physician

Verified by Dr. Iris Lee

Fellow in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Lee is a fellow in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Pennsylvania. She completed medical school and residency training at the University of Pennsylvania as well. Her work focuses primarily on PCOS, particularly the metabolic and mental health implications. Outside of work, she enjoys baking, reading, and spending time with her husband and two puppies.

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