Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) refers to a disorder that creates an imbalance of hormones in the female body. Subsequently, women with PCOS go through excessive male sex hormone production. Excess androgen leads to acne, hair loss, excessive hair growth, weight gain etc. In addition, PCOS results in insulin resistance, further resulting in weight gain. Even a 5% weight loss helps significantly reduce the androgen level in the body, mitigating PCOS symptoms.
It’s essential to exercise to maintain a healthy weight in PCOS. However, given the busy modern lifestyle, it’s not convenient for many people to take the time for the same. However, in such an occurrence, there are a lot of food items that aid in weight loss. They help with the severe insulin resistance problem caused by PCOS and assist in maintaining a healthy weight.
Best Foods to Help Lose Weight with PCOS
Green leafy vegetables are an excellent choice irrespective of the diet you’re on. They’re nutrient-dense and contain low calories, so they’re great for both weight loss and nourishment. In addition, green leafy vegetables, like spinach, have high quantities of Vitamin B, especially helpful for persons with PCOS.
As per studies, vitamin B helps improve insulin resistance. Spinach is a low-calorie vegetable. It is rich in water and fibre content. Both of them help facilitate a better bowel movement. In addition, they let the body get rid of the toxins and develop a better metabolism and digestion. A strong metabolism results in the active burning of calories, thereby helping in losing weight.
Nutritional value of 100 grams of spinach:
- Calories: 23kCal
- Water: 91%
- Protein: 2.9 g
- Carbs: 3.6 g
- Sugar: 0.4 g
- Fibre: 2.2 g
- Fat: 0.4 g
Apples are high in fibre. Therefore, they contain meagre calories. As per studies, fibre increases SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin) level. Increased SHBG aids in the prevention of excessive production of free hormones like testosterone that worsen PCOS and its related symptoms like weight gain.
As per studies, fibre can help you feel fuller while consuming fewer calories by slowing down digestion. As a result, eating apples reduces the calorie intake leading to a loss of additional weight. Additionally, apples are good for overall health as they contain vitamins A, C, and B6, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and iron.
Nutritional value of 100 grams of Apple:
- Calories: 52kCal
- Water: 86%
- Protein: 0.3g
- Carbs: 13.8g
- Sugar: 10.4g
- Fibre: 2.4g
- Fat: 0.2g
Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent amongst many PCOS patients. Salmon is high in vitamin D and helps with insulin sensitivity, fertility and lowering excessive testosterone secretion levels. Also, salmon is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fats, protein, and other healthy nutrients for patients with PCOS. These elements are beneficial for the heart, blood vessels, active insulin response and inflammation.
Salmon also aids in the production of fewer male hormones and insulin levels. In addition, it aids in weight loss and fertility by increasing satiety and reducing fat deposits near the stomach region.
Nutritional value of 100 grams of salmon:
- Calories: 179 kcal
- Fat: 10.4 g
- Omega-3: 2342 mg
- Omega-6: 122 mg
- Protein: 19.9 g
Walnuts are highly healthy for those with PCOS. The leading cause of PCOS is the hormonal imbalance of the body. As per studies, walnuts help to reduce free testosterone levels and regulate female hormones. As a result, all common symptoms of PCOS, like acne, hair loss, and facial hair, are reduced. Additionally, walnuts are known for their appetite-controlling abilities.
Walnuts are rich in unsaturated fat that is healthy for the heart and doesn’t actively add to fat accumulation. In addition, walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, plant sterols and vitamins that help suppress hunger and ultimately weight loss.
Cinnamon helps lower insulin resistance caused by PCOS. However, this is because cinnamon contains the component cinnamaldehyde. As per research, Cinnamaldehyde has anti-diabetic properties like lipid management, improved insulin resistance, and antioxidation.
With insulin resistance being the primary cause of weight gain, it’s essential to maintain a healthy level. Cinnamon extract improves brain activity and sends the signal to the cells to respond to insulin secreted by the pancreas. This process enables the absorption of blood sugar and prevention of its accumulation in the form of fat.
Nutritional value of 100 grams of cinnamon:
- Protein: 15.23 g
- Fat: 65.21 g
- Carbohydrate: 13.71 g
- Fibre: 6.7 g
- Sugar: 2.61 g
- Calcium: 98 mg
- Iron: 2.91 mg
- Magnesium: 158 mg
- Phosphorous: 346 mg
- Potassium: 441 mg
Weight Loss with PCOS: Meal Suggestions
Although there are various meals that you can opt for, a few easy to prepare foods you can consume. In addition, below, you can also find some of the everyday lifestyle practices that you should follow to lose weight with PCOS.
Break your fast with one glass of warm water, one pinch of cinnamon powder, one teaspoon of lemon juice.
Then, you can have one cup of black coffee or black tea with any of the following:
- Egg Omelettes: 2
- Whole wheat Toast: 1 slice
Idli (with chutney and sambar): 2
Dosa (with chutney and sambar): 1
Dhokla (with homemade green chutney): 2
Consume it 2-3 hours after your breakfast.
- Walnuts: 2
- Almonds: 4
- Apple/Pear/Orange: 1
Lunch (Made with 1-2 teaspoon ghee or organic cold-pressed oil)
- Rice (1 cup) or two rotis made of Jowar/Bajra/Nachni
- One cup seasonal vegetables (Bottle Gourd/Spinach/Fenugreek Leaves/Spring Onion)
- One cup Moong/Orange Masoor/Chilka Moong Dal; or one serving of chicken/fish
- A salad like a carrot cucumber salad
One cup of green tea with two pinches of cinnamon powder and any of the following:
- Roasted Chana: 1 cup
- Kurmura: 1 cup
- Dates: 4
- Two millet roti, one cup paneer, one cup of veggies
- Pan grill tofu, one cup salad
- One cup millet khichdi with a vegetable salad
- Curd rice and salad
Weight Loss with PCOS: Foods to Avoid
Pasta noodles made with refined flour have a high carbohydrate content and low fibre content. As a result, the consumption of refined flour results in an immediate sugar release in the bloodstream. PCOS patients face problems with the active absorption of this blood sugar, leading to its storage as fat. Additionally, it also leads to inflammation which aggravates the symptoms of PCOS. Inflammation affects the insulin response, and the body fails to acknowledge insulin presence. As a result, it increases insulin release and adds to the overall weight. Therefore nutritionists advise consuming pasta made with lentil or bean flour.
2. Fried Foods
Fast foods are significantly high in unhealthy saturated fats. In addition, the oils used to prepare fried foods are rich in trans fats and heavy fats. As per studies, fried food increases the risk of inflammation, weight gain and other health issues. They are especially harmful to women with PCOS because of the increased blood sugar. These foods provide instant energy but simultaneously boost the body’s glucose level—subsequently, high blood sugar level combined with insulin resistance results in weight gain.
Additionally, saturated fat increases oestrogen production, worsening the PCOS condition. PCOS is a condition that causes the level of male hormones to increase. Therefore, consuming food that adds to the production of the same aggravates the symptoms like weight gain.
3. Red Meat
Excess red meat increases inflammation and lowers progesterone levels in the body. It is a female sex hormone that helps keep the menstrual cycle and fertility maintained. The excessive intake of red meat has the same effects on the body as processed meat. Both cause inflammation. Inflammation aggravates the symptoms of PCOS, including weight gain due to harmed and inflamed digestive systems. In addition, food like hamburgers, steaks and different processed meats contain unhealthy fats. Please avoid such foods and opt for organic and grass-fed meats instead of low-quality meat.
4. Soy Products
Women with PCOS have estrogen levels more significant than average. Such a condition is called oestrogen dominance. Soy products raise estrogen levels that favour people with oestrogen deficiency. However, for PCOS patients, the very problem is excessive estrogen production.
Consuming soya has an impact on the endocrine system. It can create an imbalance in the production of certain hormones. Therefore, it is not in their best interest for PCOS patients to consume soy products. Furthermore, soy products are high in calorie content, adding to the body weight.
Women should eliminate gluten from their diet when considering various foods for PCOS. However, having PCOS does not render a person gluten intolerant. Since gluten can promote inflammation, leading to insulin resistance and an increased risk of diabetes, you can avoid it. It also increases the production of androgen. Again, excessive androgen release leads to greater levels of inflammation. In addition, it can result in weight gain and irregular menstrual cycles, both being prominent PCOS symptoms.
All the foods suggested for consumption are healthy in general. However, there can be specific side effects faced by a few people depending on their physiological response to the same. For example, while incorporating apples into your diet, it’s essential to eat them in a limited amount. That is because excessive apple consumption can lead to gastrointestinal issues. Likewise, an increased spinach intake can cause digestive problems.
Spinach being rich in fibre requires time to get digested by the body. Cook it lightly, and do not overeat. Few people are allergic to certain nuts. PCOS patients who are allergic to walnuts should avoid consuming them. Excessive cinnamon can lead to irritation in the mouth and result in ulcers, too, in extreme cases.
Weight loss can happen through a well-balanced diet low in inflammatory foods like refined carbs and highly processed meats; however, meals rich in protein, healthy fats, and fibre can help alleviate PCOS symptoms. Supplements can also help reduce the severity of symptoms of PCOS, including weight gain. Along with this, it is equally essential for PCOS patients to work on their lifestyles. Along with diet, regular exercise and sufficient sleep are also crucial in helping maintain PCOS and its related symptoms.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What not to eat during PCOS?
A: The symptoms of PCOS worsen by excessive insulin production. You should avoid food leading to an increase in insulin release. It includes food containing high and refined carbs like fried food, bread, white rice, pasta etc. You should also avoid processed meat like hot dogs. They have saturated fat and nitrate, causing inflammation. It adversely affects the PCOS condition. Reduce frequency of consumption of high sugar-containing food and limit its quantity.
Q: At what age does PCOS start?
A: PCOS affects between 5% and 10% of women aged 15 to 44 or when they can conceive. Diagnosis usually happens after women face complications while getting pregnant. However, there is no fixed age group for PCOS to develop as per studies.
Q: Can PCOS get pregnant naturally?
A: PCOS does not rule out the possibility of becoming pregnant. While PCOS is one of the leading reasons for infertility among women, one can treat it to the extent that it does not affect the ability to conceive. The hormonal imbalance caused by PCOS prevents the ovaries from ovulating. The absence of ovulation can lead to problems with pregnancy. However, doctors can suggest measures to increase your chances of becoming pregnant.
Q: Which drink is best for PCOS?
A: Drinks that help soothe inflammation and control insulin resistance are healthy for PCOS patients. You can try drinks including aloe vera, fenugreek seed, apple cider vinegar, plum juice and ashwagandha.
Q: How can I lose weight fast with PCOS?
A: To lose weight, one needs to take care of their diet and lifestyle. Even supplements take time to work. To lose weight, you should be consistent with your exercise and get proper sleep every day. Eating food that is rich in fibre and healthy fats are suggested. Avoid junk and fried foods.
Q: Is drinking hot water good for PCOS?
A: Hydrating yourself is always good. Warm water can improve your digestive system and infused warm lemon water can be great for detox and healthy skin. Other than these, there is no scientific evidence that proves that warm hot is good for PCOS.
Q: Is apple cider vinegar good for PCOS?
A: Apple cider vinegar is beneficial for PCOS because it boosts hormone levels. The main problem that women face due to PCOS is hormonal imbalance. It also regulates the menstrual cycle if consumed regularly. Additionally, it aids in the control of blood sugar levels.
Q: Can PCOS drink milk?
A: Dairy contains certain hormones that are not healthy for women having PCOS. This hormone is called insulin-like growth factor, or IGF-I, which increases androgen secretion. In addition, this worsens the symptoms of PCOS. Additionally, it also upsets the insulin sensitivity of the body.