One of the many symptoms of PCOS is unwanted weight gain, weight that seems impossible to lose. We’ve been there and it is no easy task but with the right support from fellow S’moo Babes and a plan, it isn’t impossible to lose.
Before we dive into the top 10 tips for losing weight with PCOS, we want you to know, you aren’t alone. If you need a real life example to keep you motivated, we have a few! You can join our S’moo Babe Community and connect with other S’moo Babes struggling with PCOS or you can read our founders story. Karagan Osmann, founder of S’moo, shares her full PCOS story & struggle with weight loss here.
So why is it so hard for women with PCOS to lose weight? It’s a combination of hormone imbalances, insulin resistance, and chronic inflammation. We can’t lie, most of these suggestions involve healthy habits & supplements. Unfortunately there is no quick and easy solution but these changes can be integrated into your life and they will eventually become second nature. These changes can make a lasting difference in rebalancing your hormones.
Top 10 tips
1. Reduce Refined carbohydrates
There are two main reasons to avoid refined carbs: inflammation and high insulin.
Inflammation: Not all carbohydrates are bad but refined carbs, which is what you’ll mostly find at the store or in restaurants, are common drivers of inflammation. For women with PCOS, low-grade inflammation often occurs and is associated with insulin resistance in PCOS.
Insulin Resistance: A driving condition that leads to multiple PCOS symptoms is high insulin. Lowering your carb consumption can lower your insulin levels. High insulin not only causes weight gain but also causes the ovaries to make excess testosterone and impair ovulation.
Refined carbohydrates are found in white bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, white flour, white rice, sweet desserts, and many breakfast cereals.
2. Adding more fiber to your life
A high-fiber diet may improve weight as it will help you stay full after a meal. It’s suggested for women to have around 25 grams per day of fiber though studies show women often get as little as 15 grams a day or less.
One study done with women who have PCOS showed that higher fiber intake was linked to lower insulin resistance, total body fat and lower body weight.1
What you should know about High-Fiber foods – Fiber comes in two varieties: insoluble and soluble. Soluble fiber helps control blood sugar levels and reduce cholesterol. Insoluble fiber is the fiber you always hear about that prevents constipation. Studies show that intakes of 28- 36 g fiber/day, consisting of both soluble and insoluble fiber, improve insulin sensitivity and reduce circulating insulin in adults. Examples of fiber include barley, oatmeal, beans, nuts and fruits (apples, berries, citrus fruits and pears).
3. Limit processed foods & added sugar!
Hidden within colorful boxes, sugar hides its true form, processed foods. It won’t be easy to avoid processed foods when so many of us depend on them.
You have two solutions: 1. Don’t eat any processed foods, start cooking everything yourself, or 2. Find out what to look for.
Processed foods with added sugar and refined carbs increase blood sugar levels which can lead to weight gain. What qualifies as a processed food, besides the obvious, you ask? Processed foods have been cooked, canned, frozen, packaged or changed in nutritional composition with preserving or preparing in different ways. Things like canned pasta sauce, frozen pizza, boxed mashed potatoes or stuffing. These often contain unhealthy fats, salt and excess sugar.
When you’re reading an ingredients label, remember that sugar has many names. Keep an eye out for these sugar names: Sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), dehydrated cane juice, fructose, glucose, dextrose, cane sugar, raw sugar, corn syrup. If any of these words for sugar are in the first three ingredients or if it has more than one type of sugar, then put that colorful box down and walk away.
Think about all the sugar around you, it’s not just in candy. Sugar can be found in cereals, cakes, cookies, doughnuts, and sweet pastries. It’s also in your drinks like juice, alcohol and soda! A recent clinical trial was done comparing people who drank regular soda, diet soda, milk or water. The group who drank soda regularly had increased levels of uric acid. “Uric acid can induce insulin resistance and low-grade inflammation.”2 Which are both PCOS symptoms, meaning if you drink soda, it’s the first thing to say goodby to.
Finding fresh, unprocessed foods help you avoid toxins and increase your nutrients.
4. Find healthy ways to Manage stress
Stress is wreaking havoc on your hormones. In this situation, stress uses progesterone to create cortisol, which helps your body handle the stressful situation, however this creates an imbalance that leaves too much estrogen compared to progesterone.
How does stress affect your weight gain? Well in one recent study done on how depression and stress promotes weight gain, researchers found that, women who reported recent stress burned 104 fewer calories than non-stressed women.3 That can add up.
If you want to manage your stress or even start exercising in order to help regulate your estrogen dominance these blogs can help: Think Positive, Reduce Stress; Changing your Life in 5 minutes a Day!
5. Make sure you’re getting quality sleep
It’s amazing how much sleep matters. Poor sleep is associated with increased oxidative stress, glucose (blood sugar) intolerance, and insulin resistance. Not to mention, the longer we are awake, the more opportunities we have to eat.4 Less sleep can also disrupt circadian rhythms, leading to weight gain.5
Plus when we haven’t slept well, we don’t feel like exercising. Studies show that people who don’t sleep enough have higher levels of ghrelin and decreased levels of leptin which lead to overeating by at least 300 calories a day.
6. Pick the right diet
Studies have found that switching through diet fads and under-eating can slow down your metabolism.6 Not having enough calories can actually negatively impact hormones that control appetite. Instead of thinking about a particular diet, focus on avoiding processed foods, added sugar and refined carbs. Incorporate fresh, organic options into your meals to promote a healthier lifestyle.
7. Exercise regularly
It’s important to note that one element alone is not the solution. Exercising should be paired with healthy eating and quality sleep. Remember there are options to how you exercise. Founder of S’moo, Karagan Osmann lost her PCOS weight by eating right and powerlifting. There are also fun actives like rollerskating, dancing, yoga that all get the body moving.
One study over a four month period found that women with PCOS who participated in weight training 3 times a week reduced belly fat. They were able to reduce testosterone and blood sugar levels.7
8. Consider supplements
The right supplement can help balance your hormones and allow you to lose weight. In one randomized study, women with PCOS were given 4 grams of myo-inositol per day for 14 weeks and they lost weight. S’moo, which contains myo-inositol as well as 6 other vitamins/minerals and herbs, has helped thousands of women manage their PCOS symptoms. Find a supplement that can help aid you on your journey.
9. Incorporate healthy fats into your day
Avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, and nut butters are all great examples of healthy fats you can add to your meals to feel more satisfied. Why does this help with weight gain? Healthy fats to meals can expand stomach volume and reduce hunger. This allows your body to feel fuller.8
10. Find an accountability partner!
We personally like to call it an accountability babe because in the S’moo Babe Community you can find women who are in the same situation, looking for a support group! Difficult tasks are always easier with a supportive friend or spouse. These accountability babes can keep you motivated.
If you can’t find the right friend to help you stay motivated try using a daily journal or planner. Make a little star or check mark on the page for each day that you’ve accomplished these 10 tips for managing PCOS weight gain.
Never forget that no matter what, you are beautiful. It might take many tries to accomplish your goals but you’re not alone. Sending positive vibes and hugs your way!
This content is strictly the opinion of S’moo and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither S’moo nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.