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Understanding Weight Loss and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Women who are suffering from PCOS not only gain weight suddenly and drastically but they also find it difficult to lose that weight. It is beneficial for these women to lose that excess weight as it would help to ease the other symptoms associated with PCOS, like irregular periods. There are various reasons why weight loss is difficult, but one of the main reasons is insulin resistance, which is when your body makes too much insulin and that leads to a build-up of fat.

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A Brief Overview

Glucose is the main source of fuel for your body and insulin is a hormone that transports glucose from your bloodstream into your cells, where it can be used as energy. PCOS disrupts this procedure and makes your cells resistant to insulin signals, instigating your pancreas to produce even more insulin. And this insulin resistance promotes fat storage or weight gain that is extremely stubborn and hard to shed.

What Is PCOS?

PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a hormonal disorder that affects most women between the ages of 12 to 45. It is one of the most underdiagnosed diseases that adversely affect women at varying life stages. Being a complex and multifaceted condition, PCOS affects the health of women in many ways, be it physical or mental health. Awareness is a necessity for this condition so that more women consider getting a diagnosis.

Common Signs and Symptoms

Not everyone experiences the same symptoms when they have PCOS, but some symptoms are way more common than others:

  • Irregular periods: One of the most common signs of PCOS is irregular periods or prolonged periods that are usually interconnected with weight gain.
  • Overproduction of androgen: Women with PCOS produce increased levels of male hormones or androgens, which can lead to other physical signs. The signs can be hirsutism or excessive hair growth in their face and body, male-pattern baldness and acne.
  • Polycystic ovaries: Women with PCOS can have larger ovaries and grow fluid-filled sacs in them. These are called cysts and these hinder their ovulation process.
  • Weight gain: Women with PCOS have poor insulin resistance which causes them to gain excessive body weight that is very hard to lose.

Its Impact on Weight Management

Weight management is a big issue in women with PCOS, this can be due to increasing susceptibility to weight gain or resistance to weight loss. There are many physiological reasons behind a woman’s inability to lose PCOS weight, like insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia. More women with PCOS drop out of a weight loss program or exercise plan than women who do not have PCOS. They are easily exhausted and have various food restrictions which is why following a strict diet plan is difficult, and they are also prohibited from doing high-intensity training.

Common Weight Loss Challenges Women With PCOS Experience

  1. Insulin resistance: Even if women with PCOS do lose weight at a steady pace the insulin resistance caused by PCOS spikes their blood sugar levels and make them gain weight even faster.
  2. Hormonal imbalances: Another major complication that women with PCOS often experience is hormonal imbalances. Primarily an increase in the production of male hormones like testosterone, causes women with PCOS to experience baldness, excessive facial hair growth and gaining weight around the belly.
  3. Poor metabolism: Your metabolism level is something that you are mostly born with but when you have PCOS your metabolism gets worse which means your body burns very few calories when you are resting. And even with diet and physical exertion, the rate of your weight loss is very slow.
  4. Hunger and Cravings: We are familiar with the term PMS right? Now imagine experiencing stronger PMS symptoms throughout irrespective of your menstrual cycle, that is what happens when you have PCOS. You may feel hungry very often and crave fattening and unhealthy foods. This may be due to imbalances in hormones such as leptin and ghrelin, which regulate hunger and satiety.
  5. Sleep cycle: A decrease in cortisol production due to PCOS can lead to extreme stress and lack of sleep. Women with PCOS also experience insomnia, which is harmful to their weight loss process. Your body digests food slowly when you sleep at night, keeping your hunger at rest, but if you don’t sleep your body will burn calories very quickly and you will feel hungry faster.

Contributing Factors

Hormonal imbalances

Your appetite is regulated by certain hormones like ghrelin, cholecystokinin and leptin, and when you have PCOS the functioning of these hormones is disrupted. This abnormal hormonal regulation of appetite can make your weight loss journey difficult and overall weight management becomes hard. Dysfunctional levels of these hormones may stimulate hunger in people with PCOS. That encourages you to eat more and makes it difficult to manage weight.

Insulin resistance

PCOS largely affects your body's secretion and use of insulin, makes your cells resistant to insulin and instigates your pancreas to produce more insulin. This procedure is called insulin resistance and this promotes fat storage or weight gain, mostly in the middle part of your body. There certainly are treatment options for this situation that aim at reducing your insulin levels, these involve diet modifications, exercises, medications and/or supplements. Insulin resistance also causes you to feel hungry all the time and crave unhealthy and fattening foods. Eating often, including sufficient protein with meals and avoiding sugary foods are all helpful ways to reduce cravings.

Metabolic dysfunction

In the case of women who do not have PCOS, the digestive system breaks down the foods they eat into sugar. Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that helps sugar enter your cells to be used as fuel. But, when you have PCOS you become resistant to insulin and that lowers your metabolism.

Treatment & Medication Options

Every problem has a solution and thanks to the advancement of medical science and awareness about PCOS there are various treatment options for this hormonal disorder. It can be managed through a combination of lifestyle and dietary changes, exercise, medications (such as birth control pills) and other interventions as needed.

Ayurveda and Natural Remedies To Promote Healthy Weight


Lemon or citrus fruits are natural detoxifiers and extremely beneficial for your body if consumed regularly. Drinking a large glass of water with lemon juice first thing in the morning keeps you hydrated and detoxifies your body. It also boosts your digestive system and helps with weight loss. L emon also has purifying characteristics that keep your skin healthy and breaks fat easily. It also gives a fresh start to the day, making you feel energized and light


Keeping yourself fit through exercise is something everyone should do irrespective of PCOS and weight loss goals. Ayurveda says that to lose weight you need to sweat to speed up the process of weight loss. Exercising 45-60 minutes a day by strength training or yoga is also essential for maintaining a healthy metabolism.


Our lives have become so occupied and stressful that the majority of the population suffers from anxiety or depression in today’s time. And when you have PCOS the lack of cortisol in your blood also causes extreme stress and mental health problems. A very efficient way to slow down your day and relax for a bit is meditation, even 15 minutes of meditation daily can make you happier.

Proper Diet

Whether you follow Ayurveda or some other form of treatment, a balanced diet is a holy grail for your PCOS weight loss journey. Ayurveda specifically involves eating healthy and regularly. It is advised to have 3 meals a day that includes seasonal fruits and vegetables and excludes unhealthy snacking. Also, not just the amount of food and the types of food you are eating but the time in which you are consuming your meals play an important role in their digestion. Always have a heavy breakfast, between 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., mid-sized lunch around noon with lots of vegetables, grains and meat and a very light dinner before 7.30 pm consisting of soups and salads for the best digestion process, as the digestion power is low at night.


Try to eat the fruits and vegetables that align with the season that you are in. During the summers your diet should include fresh fruits and vegetables that will keep you breezy and energized. During winter eat root vegetables, seeds, nuts, meats and cheeses to shield yourself from the cold. Maintaining your diet according to the changing seasons is called ritucharya in Ayurveda and it helps with faster digestion.


Do not sit or lie down immediately after having a meal, this hinders the digestion process and makes you more lazy.


An imbalance in the Kapha dosha can make you lazy and overweight and can slow down your metabolism to a great extent. You can balance your Kapha dosha by eating foods that are freshly prepared and seasonally appropriate and avoiding processed cold or stale foods.

Talk to a Professional with Veera

Losing weight with PCOS can seem tough, but not when you have the right guidance. Treating the hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS can help you lose weight sustainably. Weight loss is one of the treatment pathways to improve PCOS.

Take Our Online Assessment to Get Started

It can be frustrating when PCOS makes it difficult to lose weight. If you have any questions or concerns, you can take this exclusive quiz by Veera. Consider seeking help from a dietitian with experience counselling people with PCOS.