How to Lose Weight with PCOS

Last updated February 2nd, 2021

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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is an uncomfortable disease that is unfortunately VERY common in women. We’re going to talk specifically about how to lose weight with PCOS.

If you have it, you know that it’s usually accompanied by a hormonal imbalance that can mess with your metabolism and make it difficult to lose weight.

The good news is, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, not only is it possible to lose weight if you have PCOS, but weight loss will also help improve symptoms of the condition (1).

Because PCOS disrupts your hormonal balance, shedding pounds successfully is a little more involved than just adding in a little exercise or drinking more water.

Here we’ll give you scientifically proven tips to lose weight and help manage the condition.

What is PCOS?

To better understand how your weight and PCOS go hand in hand, we first need to understand the disease.

According to the Office on Women’s Health, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, PCOS occurs when your body has an imbalance of reproductive hormones that create problems in your ovaries (2).

The condition may cause your egg not to release monthly like normal, and you may miss your period.

While an occasional missed period isn’t cause for alarm, if it happens regularly, you may have issues with fertility and develop cysts on your ovaries.

How Do I Know if I Have PCOS?

PCOS is most common in women of childbearing age (defined as between the ages of 15 and 44), and one clinical study says that one in 15 women will develop the disease (3).

The risk of developing it is higher if you’re obese, or have a female family member who also has PCOS.

Common symptoms of PCOS are:

  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Too much hair on parts of the body women typically don’t have any, like the face, chin, or neck
  • Acne breakouts on the face, chest, and upper back
  • Hair loss
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Skin darkening in areas where the skin creases, like the groin, underneath the breasts, or along your neckline.
  • Skin tags on the armpits or neck

Why is it Difficult to Lose Weight With PCOS?

While the exact cause of PCOS is unknown, experts at the Mayo Clinic believe that the excess production of male sex hormones, androgens, play a part.

Although women should produce some of these hormones, having too many in the system will prevent ovulation.

Another contributing factor to PCOS is high insulin levels.

high insulin can cause PCOS

If you’re insulin resistant, your body can’t convert sugars and starches from the food you eat into energy efficiently, and you’ll have high levels of insulin.

High insulin levels are known to trigger the production of androgens.

According to the American Diabetes Association, the insulin resistance found in women with PCOS can also contribute to developing diabetes (4).

Luckily, losing weight with the disease follows a lot of the same practices as shedding pounds when you have diabetes, and there are lots of ways to do it successfully.

Lifestyle Changes to Help Lose Weight with PCOS

Making several small changes to your lifestyle can help you manage your weight with PCOS.  Here is our top evidence-backed suggestions.

1. Exercise Daily

According to the Obesity Action Coalition, exercising daily can help improve how your body uses insulin.

Try adding 30 minutes of movement into your everyday routine like walking, yoga, using the elliptical, or taking a class.

If you prefer to workout at home, try this 30-minute low impact workout courtesy of Pop Sugar Fitness that has lots of beginner-friendly moves.

Remember, beginners don’t need to work so hard that you “feel the burn” or are sore the next day.  Any daily moment will start you on the path to improving your health.

2. Make Nutritional Changes

Managing your insulin levels is one key to shedding pounds. 

Because PCOS not only makes it difficult for your body to process sugar, but it also messes with some of the hormones that regulate your appetite, it can be challenging not to overeat.

Make sure that you eat lots of high-fiber and nutritionally dense foods like vegetables and lean proteins.

If you eat carbohydrates, make sure to stick to complex carbs like sweet potatoes, brown rice, and rolled oats.

Stay away from processed choices that have lots of sugar and added fat and will have an adverse impact on your insulin.

If you’re looking for a plan to tell you how exactly to do this and what exactly to eat every day, you can read more about 21-Day Fat Loss Challenge at the bottom of this article!

3. Minimize Distractions When You Eat

In a study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they found that people who multitask while they eat a meal tend to eat more in that sitting than they would if they weren’t distracted (4).

Yes, life is busy.  Yes, it’s challenging to carve out a lunch break or sit down to eat breakfast in the morning.

eat healthy breakfast to lose weight with PCOS

But, making the time to consciously focus on your food when you’re eating it will help you feel more satisfied, and make it easy to cut calories and lose weight.

4. Sleep 8 Hours Every Night

According to a clinical study published in Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America, sleep deprivation has a direct link to developing insulin resistance (5).

While this particular study looked at diabetics, we know that insulin plays a significant role in the weight loss problems that people with PCOS have as well.

A lack of sleep has both a direct effect on the hormones that regulate hunger levels, and insulin, so it’s important to make time to get a solid eight hours.

Go to bed a bit earlier each night, and try turning off your tv and other electronics 30-minutes before you want to fall asleep.

Making time to sleep is just as important as making time to exercise or eat well when it comes to losing weight.

5. Eat at Home

Take the time to cook and eat your meals at home, and you’ll not only eat better, but you’ll also eat less.

According to the American Cancer Society, people who eat out at restaurants eat around 200 calories more than they would if they ate a home-cooked meal (6).

Also, the food that people eat at a restaurant is less nutritious than what we eat at home.

When researchers did the math, the results were shocking.

If you eat out twice weekly, which was the average in the study, you’ll consume an additional 20,000 calories per year or about six pounds!

Instead, search for recipes that are similar to some of your favorite restaurant dishes, but cook them at home so you can keep a close eye on the fat, starch, and sugar content.

Remember that your health and your happiness are the greatest assets you have.

If you are ready to make a change in your diet and lifestyle, our 21-Day Fat Loss Challenge is a great place to start! We have a private support group for the Challenge with over 2,000 members.

This means that you don’t have to go it alone, and you can chat with other members that are on a similar journey with PCOS, like our clients in this screenshot from our group:

21-Day Challenge testimonial for how to lose weight with PCOS

Our clients lose an average of 10-21 pounds in 21 days and absolutely love the program!

But even better than the weight loss is the feedback we get from our clients about how the program has taught them how to change their eating habits and find a diet that truly works for them in the long-term.

Avocadu 21-Day Fat Loss Challenge

If you are ready to finally lose some serious weight with a really great diet for hypothyroidism and make a big and PERMANENT change in your life, this is the ONLY place you should start.

The program was designed in a way that it can be completed in multiple rounds if you have more weight to lose! 20 lbs, 40 lbs, 80 lbs, and more… The concepts that we teach will help you make the necessary changes in your diet and your lifestyle and how to keep them “beyond the diet.”

Click here to get started with your 21-Day Fat Loss Challenge today!

If you have any questions about this article on how to lose weight with PCOS, you can ask them in the comments section below!

Cathy Dean

Cathy Dean

Hey y’all. My name is Cathy, a former junk-food loving carb-aholic turned nutrition and fitness enthusiast. Here at Avocadu, we believe that a nutrient-rich diet is EVERYTHING when it comes to your health and well-being. Our motto is “Healthy from the Inside Out”! As a Certified Keto Coach, I specialize in teaching others how to lose weight through healthy, low-carb eating.

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5 replies on “How to Lose Weight with PCOS”

I’m so glad to see this article! Most women don’t realize how hard it is to lose weight with PCOS. I’ve found carb cycling is working for me, it consists of 4 or 5 small meals a day and veggies and protein at all meals. After years of gaining weight and not being able to control it, It’s comforting to see progress!

Hey, y’all! I’m Cathy!

I’m SO excited you’re here! I’m super passionate about nutrition, and specialize in teaching others how to lose weight through healthy, low-carb eating. Here at Avocadu, we believe in quality over quantity and that diet is EVERYTHING when it comes to your health and well-being. In short, we believe in being healthy from the inside out. Learn more

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