Why Is It Hard To Lose Weight With PCOS?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder affecting 5%-10% of women of reproductive age.
Possible Causes of PCOS
There is no clear cause of PCOS, a common suggestion is that it is hereditary, it is likely that your mother has it and therefore now you have it.
Research believes there are 4 possible causes of PCOS:
- Excess sugar consumption, which leads to insulin resistance.
- Inflammation caused by chronic stress, environmental toxins (e.g. GMO chemical foods) and foods such as dairy, gluten.
- Birth Control Pill
There are various symptoms associated with a PCOS diagnosis. The type and extent of symptoms vary, it is not the same for all PCOS sufferers.
A common symptom of PCOS is weight gain or difficulty losing weight. Many women have been told by their doctors that if they lose weight, all of their symptoms will disappear and their PCOS will be treated.
It is important to note here, however, that while losing weight can help PCOS and its symptoms, you are not getting to the root cause of PCOS, and therefore it is not the best approach to take when looking to reverse or manage your PCOS. PCOS is a condition in which a woman's hormones are imbalanced. You must, therefore, follow a lifestyle which will help you balance your hormones.
As I mentioned above and in the Cure for PCOS post, it is common for Doctors to recommend women with PCOS to lose weight, most of the time that is the only advice they can give or they may say cut carbohydrates and force the Birth Control Pill. Doctors do not always know what to say, and it is not always their fault, it may be because they do not know much about PCOS and this a frequent problem, not many people know about PCOS, even though it affects a large population of women.
So Why Is It So Hard To Lose Weight With PCOS?
Many women with PCOS are also insulin resistant.
What is Insulin?
Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas and it has many roles in the body. However, one critical role is to keep blood sugar levels under control.
Cells in the body will burn glucose for fuel, but it will also store some for later use.
Eating a diet high in carbohydrates, especially simple sugars, such as white bread and white rice, increases your blood sugar levels and in turn spikes your insulin. If your blood sugar is constantly elevated and you have too much glucose in your bloodstream it 's hard for your body to start burning fat as fuel as it keeps going to carbs as they require immediate action.
The more insulin you secrete, the more likely it is the cells in your body will become resistant to insulin. Which means the cells in your body have difficulty absorbing glucose in the bloodstream. In turn, it will take a lot of insulin to the job it is meant to do, which is to keep blood sugar levels stable. As a result of all of this insulin, your body is storing calories as fat instead of fuel.
Insulin not only causes you to store fat, it also causes inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, resulting in many health risks, such as; high blood pressure, diabetes (more than 50% of women with PCOS will have diabetes or pre-diabetes before the age of 40), infertility, high cholesterol, an increased risk of cancer, thickening of the blood, low HDL, high triglycerides, poor sex drive, depression and Alzheimer’s.
What Can You Do?
Losing weight with PCOS always seems like an uphill battle and it can sometimes feel like you are not winning. But it is important that you do not give up because you will win the battle and overcome PCOS.
Insulin resistance can be managed, a common misconception about how to treat insulin resistance is by eliminating carbohydrates, however, while you may think you are treating it, you are not getting to the root cause.
How To Manage Insulin Resistance
Eat More Complex Carbohydrates/ Low GI Carbs
Complex carbohydrates are broken down and digested much slower than simple sugars, and therefore the release is energy is gradual ensuring your blood sugar levels, and in turn insulin does not spike.
Choose carbohydrates such as; sweet potatoes, buckwheat, brown rice, beans and lentils. Include fruits such as strawberries, cherries, plums, peaches, pears and oranges. Vegetables such as; peas, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans and mushrooms.
Reduce Fat Intake
Research results suggest that reduce fat intake can help improve insulin sensitivity. A study found that reducing fat consumption from an average of 54 grams per day to an average of 27 grams per day allows your insulin to function properly again and in turn increasing insulin sensitivity.
Studies have found that while all forms of exercise can increase insulin sensitivity, resistance training can provide even more benefits as a result of the increase in lean tissue, in turn increasing your overall demand for energy. Researchers have found that each 10% increase in muscle was associated with an 11% relative reduction in insulin resistance (1).
A further study, which looked at weight loss in female patients with obesity, found muscle mass can improve insulin resistance (3).
The results have now created a shift in what many clinicians used to advise their patients, lose weight. While weight loss remains a crucial factor for improving metabolic health such as managing insulin resistance, research is now suggesting fitness and muscle building is another option.
Studies show that losing weight can help insulin resistance. A study found that losing weight with or without exercise significantly improved insulin resistance. Weight loss does not have to be achieved through low-calorie dieting. Instead, it can be done through simply eating better. Opt for a whole food diet, plant-based foods and minimal animal products.
Magnesium deficiency can lead to diabetes. A high sugar diet depletes your body of magnesium, this is because for sugar to be processed the body requires a lot of it and if you do not add any magnesium back into your body either through magnesium rich food or supplementation you will become deficient.
A study found that cinnamon and components of cinnamon offer many benefits in relation to factors associated with metabolic syndrome, including insulin sensitivity, glucose, lipids, antioxidants, inflammation, blood pressure, and body weight.
The active component curcumin found in turmeric is believed to be the source which holds all the benefits. A 2013 review of studies suggests that curcumin can decrease the level of glucose in blood.
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