If you’re wondering how to lose weight with PCOS, you’re in luck!
I’ve put together the 20 best tips for how to lose weight with PCOS.
I go more in-depth into some of the more helpful ones, such as exercising and eating protein, but all of these pointers will help you get closer to your weight loss goals.
What Does PCOS Mean?
PCOS, short for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a common hormonal condition that affects up to one in five women.
Depending on how severe it is, and what symptoms you have, losing weight with PCOS can be really difficult.
For some, it can even be impossible.
However, these tips will help you lose weight with PCOS and gently boost your metabolism so you won’t feel like you’re starving all day long.
First of all, let’s talk about the basics.
PCOS happens when you have very high levels of androgens (hormones like testosterone) in your body.
This results in some pretty unsightly symptoms that include weight gain, excess hair growth, acne, and irregular periods or even a complete lack of periods.
It is possible to lose weight with PCOS, but it requires a little extra work than just cutting calories and hitting the gym for 30 minutes each day.
So without any further ado, here are the 20 best tips for how to lose weight with PCOS.
How To Lose Weight With PCOS – 20 Best Tips To Try
1. Eat Protein
There is a mountain of research linking high protein diets to losing weight and lowering estrogen levels.
Your goal with eating protein is to trim down and reduce the number of excess androgens (hormones like testosterone) in your body.
That’s because these steroids make you retain water and keep you hungry, leading to overeating and weight gain.
By eating more protein, you can control hunger and promote weight loss by curbing excess water retention.
To help, here are some ideas:
Eat protein-rich foods such as chicken, beef, fish, avocados, nuts, eggs, dairy products, etc.
Have a protein shake for breakfast.
Do you still crave sweets after breakfast? Try it.
You’ll be surprised at how much more satisfied you feel.
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2. Reduce Your Carb Intake
You need to reduce your carb intake in order to stabilize your blood sugar.
This is because of an enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase, or PRKAR1a.
By reducing this enzyme, you can get enough of the nutrients your body needs without having too many carbohydrates in your system, which usually results in excessive insulin.
By eating fewer carbs, you’ll also reduce the level of testosterone that’s being produced, thereby reducing excess estrogen.
To get rid of excess water retention, you have to get rid of the excess carbs that are making it happen.
3. Eat Healthy Fats
Now that you’re eating fewer carbs, it’s also important to start eating healthy fats.
Fat is an important component to staying healthy, so it’s best to consume only the type of fat you need.
Here are some examples of healthy fats:
- Avocado oil (and its healthy fat cousins like almond oil, flaxseed oil, and macadamias).
- Sesame seeds
- Coconut oil (food grade)
- Unrefined nut oils
- Coconut milk
- Olive oil and other unrefined oils such as canola and hemp oils.
- Borage Seed Oil: A superfood that gives you the benefits of almonds and pecans on top of helping with weight loss.
It’s one of the most concentrated sources of GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) which is a healthy omega-6 fatty-acid.
4. Eat Fatty Fish Weekly, And Add Cod Liver Oil To Your Diet
Fatty fish have high amounts of omega-3s, which are very good for you.
It also reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.
Salmon contains large amounts of omega-6 fatty acid, so it’s important to eat this type of fish no more than once or twice each month.
Here are some other examples:
- Sablefish or black cod
- Mackerel (Spanish or King).
5. Start Getting Active
One of the basic truths about how to lose weight with PCOS is that you need to start exercising.
I know you’re thinking, “But I’ve tried exercising before and nothing worked!”
Your lack of success with exercise has probably been due to one or more of these reasons:
You didn’t combine strength training with cardio.
Cardio alone doesn’t work for losing weight.
You didn’t eat enough protein beforehand.
Protein helps curb your appetite, which means you’ll be less hungry during the workout session, and after too!
You didn’t eat right after your workout.
You need this recovery period after exercise, to replenish your glycogen stores (the body’s main form of glucose storage).
If you need help getting in the habit of exercising, here are some ideas for how to lose weight with PCOS:
Strength train: It’s one of the most effective ways to lose weight. Gym time is also a good way to make friends and meet new people.
Do cardio: Cardio exercise burns fat, but it also speeds up your metabolism, which helps you lose weight faster.
Perform cardio after strength training, when your muscles are still super-heated (they can be even when you’re well-rested).
Perform cardio early in the morning when you’re still somewhat tired.
6. Eat More Fibrous Foods
Fibrous vegetables, fruits, and grains have a really high water content, which means it’s hard to eat too much of them.
This will help you feel more satiated and keep your weight in check.
Below I listed some good examples of fibrous foods:
- Fruits such as berries, grapefruit, lemons , limes , etc.
- Vegetables such as broccoli , spinach , kale , etc.
- Grains such as quinoa or oats.
- Sprouted grain breads. Sprouted grain breads contain fibre from the wheat germ or bran.
- Legumes such as beans and lentils . Lentils are also a great source of protein.
7. Eat More Low Glycemic Foods
High glycemic foods are foods that are quickly digested by the intestines, which then causes a spike in insulin.
This is not good if you have PCOS because insulin will promote steroid hormone production by the ovaries, which will lead to water weight retention.
To help avoid this problem, you have to eat high-fiber plant foods that are low on the glycemic index.
As a general rule, you can just follow these rules:
- Vegetables: Eat more leafy greens, salad veggies, broccoli, etc.
- Fruits: Eat more fruits that are low sugar and very low on the glycemic index; they may be raw or cooked
- Berries: Choose berries over other fruits that are higher on the glycemic index.
- Legumes: Eat lentils and other legumes.
8. Eat Nutrient-Dense Foods
Foods like walnuts and sesame seeds contain a host of nutrients and minerals that can benefit your thyroid and ovaries by promoting hormone balance and reducing water retention.
9. Eat Plenty Of Protein
One of the best ways to reduce insulin spikes is to eat more protein.
A high-protein diet will also help you lose weight because it helps curb your appetite.
In fact, a high-protein diet can be as effective as a low-fat diet for losing weight.
You should aim to eat about half a gram of protein for every pound of body weight.
Here are some ways you can do that:
- Eat animal meats such as fish, chicken, and lean beef.
- Incorporate organic soy products such as tofu , tempeh , and edamame.
- Eat eggs. These are a good source of complete protein.
- Eat whey protein powder mixed with your favorite fruits or veggies. You can also get whey protein from a variety of dairy products such as yogurt, cottage cheese, and even non-dairy milk.
10. Drink Green Tea Or Other Green Tea Drinks
Green tea contains a lot of antioxidants that can help reduce free radical damage to the ovaries, which result in reduced insulin sensitivity and PCOS symptoms.
It also helps reduce water retention in the body by decreasing cortisol levels, an important hormone that is produced during stress.
It’s been proven to help you lose weight, curb appetite, and even lower blood sugar levels.
You can either drink green tea or take green tea supplements.
11. Eat Foods That Are Rich In Folic Acid
Folic acid helps reduce blood clotting, which will help you lose weight by reducing your risk of developing a blood clot.
It also helps the body metabolize cells including the ones in the ovaries, which helps reduce PCOS symptoms.
Foods with folic acid include:
- Sunflower seeds
- Almonds and other nuts and seeds
- Coconut flour and coconut oil
- Raw cacao powder (make your own chocolate)
12. Practice Yoga
Yoga helps reduce stress on the body, which helps reduce water retention by decreasing cortisol levels.
Yoga also reduces internal inflammation, which can help with symptoms of PCOS.
Here are some ways to lose weight with PCOS that you can try:
Yoga is one of the most effective ways to lose weight with PCOS because it’s low impact and helps restore hormonal balance.
Try some yoga poses at home or find a studio near you that teaches yoga.
Choose a specific type of yoga that you enjoy doing.
If you’re not sure what kind of yoga to do, ask a certified yoga instructor what kinds of moves are good for your condition.
Make time each day for your practice. Yoga for weight loss
Try meditation to reduce stress, which will result in less water retention.
Calm, an app that helps you meditate in your own time using music and mindfulness techniques.
Start with 10 minutes daily to see if you like it.
You can also try guided meditation tapes or CDs.
Make sure you choose something that is good for your sleep (don’t listen to it when you’re tired).
- Hatha Yoga
Hatha yoga is one of the most popular types of yoga because it’s accessible and easy to do almost anywhere.
It’s also less intense than other forms of yoga, and it helps improve flexibility and balance. It also helps you get in touch with your body and become more mindful.
Try this Hatha Yoga for Beginners video guide to learn the basic poses. Try each pose for about five breaths.
When you know the poses, try a 10-minute routine.
Another good workout for PCOS is Pilates as it helps increase muscle mass, which can help you burn fat faster.
Pilates is also great for improving your flexibility, which is important for this condition because it can help reduce back pain.
Pilates also helps you strengthen your core so you can improve your posture, which can help increase fertility.
Pilates is known to be a good workout for PCOS because it helps you lose weight and burn belly fat.
You can try yoga studios or fitness facilities that offer Pilates classes. Make sure you try a few classes before committing to one.
HIIT is a form of intense interval training known to significantly help with weight loss and athletic performance.
Studies show that HIIT works by melting belly fat and improving insulin sensitivity in people with PCOS.
13. Eat Foods That Can Increase Insulin Sensitivity
There are several nutrients that can improve your insulin sensitivity.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These contain essential fatty acids that help reduce insulin resistance and regulate hormones such as estrogen.
Sources include walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds.
- Green Leafy Vegetables
These help you lose weight because they’re high in starch and fiber while containing very few calories.
They also promote hormone balance and reduce inflammation in the body.
Sources include kale, spinach, and collard greens.
This contains potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium, and fiber which all help your body fight inflammation.
A study shows that people with PCOS can improve insulin sensitivity by simply adding half of an avocado to their diet for 12 weeks.
- Aloe Vera
This helps lower blood sugar levels and regulates blood pressure.
Add aloe vera juice to your water or smoothies.
- Black Beans
These help keep blood sugar, insulin, and cholesterol levels balanced.
This is good for weight loss because it keeps you full for longer, which means you’ll probably snack less during the day.
This is a staple in most healthy diets because it contains more protein than most grains, helping reduce appetite and cravings.
It’s also high in fiber, which helps promote hormone balance and regulate blood sugar levels.
- Turkey Breast
This contains zinc, which helps boost testosterone.
It also contains iron, which helps with blood sugar regulation.
How to Lose Weight While On Metformin
Another way to lose weight with PCOS is by using metformin or another form of insulin sensitizer.
Metformin is an oral medication that’s used to help control blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
It can also be used in people who have PCOS (specifically, polycystic ovary syndrome).
The health benefits of metformin include:
- Weight Loss
Metformin has been shown to significantly help most people lose weight when it’s prescribed appropriately for them.
This tablet is also known to help people lose weight by regulating your hormones and burning fat faster
- Blood Sugar Level Control
Metformin helps regulate blood sugar by reducing insulin resistance and increasing liver enzymes, which break down glucose into a form your body can use as fuel.
This helps you maintain healthy blood sugar levels without having to count carbohydrates or carbs in your diet.
- Less Bloating
Metformin can reduce levels of lactic acid in the body, which helps reduce bloating and abdominal discomfort in women with PCOS.
There are two types of metformin: extended-release (IR) and extended-release (XR).
Both types are available in both pill form and oral tablet forms.
Talk to your doctor about which form is right for you.
14. Sleep 7-8 hours
One of the most important things you can do to support your PCOS is getting a good night’s sleep.
You need enough rest so your hormones balance out and you can ovulate regularly, or produce eggs with an egg quality that’s best for fertilizing them.
Studies show that most women with PCOS will not ovulate regularly even if they’re trying to get pregnant.
Even if you’re eating foods that help improve your insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation, getting regular sleep will help improve your hormone balance and increase fertility.
This is because your body needs enough sleep to repair muscle and tissues, which keeps your hormones in balance.
You also need enough sleep so that your immune system can fight off toxins and harmful bacteria in the body.
Exercise is an important part of losing weight.
It also lowers your insulin levels, which promotes ovulation and fertility.
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed that women with PCOS who did resistance training for 12 weeks had a significant increase in testosterone levels compared to women who didn’t do any resistance training.
What’s more, the participants who performed high-intensity resistance training and moderate-intensity endurance exercise for 12 weeks had nearly double the amount of fasting glucose after meals compared to the control group.
16. Stretch More Often
Many women with PCOS struggle with flexibility and move more slowly than other people due to their weight gain.
Research shows that stretching for just 10 minutes a day can improve overall flexibility and insulin sensitivity and reduce PCOS symptoms.
Most of the participants in the study lost weight as well.
17. Eat More Omega-3s
Many women with PCOS have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in most fish and fish oils.
In a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake seems to help decrease insulin resistance in participants with PCOS.
This can also reduce inflammation by decreasing adipose tissue growth, weight gain, and cyst growth.
18. Eat More Nuts and Seeds
Women with PCOS often struggle with low levels of zinc, which is often correlated with insulin resistance.
This is especially true for women who are overweight.
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Diabetes Research helped demonstrate that increasing zinc intake could help reduce insulin resistance in participants whose weight was under control.
The study found that women who consumed 30 percent more zinc had about 1 gram less insulin resistance than those who consumed less zinc.
The amount of zinc recommended for PCOS is between 15 and 30 grams a day depending on your weight and health status.
19. Take a Multi-Vitamin
Many women with PCOS also have a deficiency of vitamin D, which has been linked to poor egg quality and hormone balance.
A 2014 study published in the journal Clinical Endocrinology found that women with PCOS who took a multi-vitamin supplement containing vitamin D had nearly double the normal amount of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) as those who didn’t take any multi-vitamin vitamin D.
The FSH levels were not as high as those seen in women with polycystic ovary syndrome, but they were still above normal for healthy control women.
20. Reduce Stress Levels
Research suggests that having stress in your life, even if you’re not aware of it, can lead to insulin resistance and other symptoms associated with PCOS.
The study looked at female rats who did not have any symptoms of PCOS before being put under stress.
The rats did have higher levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) than normal rats, but they did not have high levels of testosterone or polycystic ovaries.
However, their insulin sensitivity was lower than normal and they experienced more rapid weight gain than normal rats when given a high-fat diet.
Final Thoughts on How To Lose Weight With PCOS
If you have PCOS, you know how challenging it can be to lose weight.
One of the most frustrating things about having PCOS is that you might gain weight easily, but losing weight rapidly can be almost impossible if you don’t know what foods to eat.
The key to losing weight is not just eating less calories, but eating carbohydrates and proteins at the right times throughout the day so your body regulates blood sugar properly.
Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water every day will also help improve your energy levels and keep your skin looking healthy.
Don’t forget to get plenty of sleep every night so your hormones remain balanced.
Sleep also helps your body repair tissues and muscles, which allows you to gain strength and lean muscle.
Ideally, try to get around 8 hours of sleep every night.
You may also want to add resistance training and/or cardio exercises twice a week to help reduce insulin resistance and allow your body more time to burn fat stores.
Most importantly, remember that you are not alone.
You can do this if you take these tips into consideration and start eating the right foods for weight loss with PCOS today!