Why More Muscle Helps PCOS


Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is not the only condition a huge population of women has. Along with a PCOS diagnosis, many women also find out that they are insulin resistant. Insulin resistance occurs when cells in the body do not effectively respond to the hormone insulin. This therefore means that cells have trouble absorbing glucose, in turn causing a build up of sugar in the blood.


Combined with a PCOS diagnosis, which requires both mental and physical strength to tackle every single day, they also have to manage their insulin levels. Both of these conditions require not only care with regards to their diet but also requires consistency and dedication when it comes to exercise.


Having More Muscle Can Help


Current research is continuously finding that having more muscle can improve a person's insulin resistance. Furthermore, having more muscle can reduce the risk of insulin resistance, through increasing insulin sensitivity.


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.


While many women avoid lifting weights in fear of looking bulky (which will not happen), such results should motivate you to lift some weights.


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 study conducted by Van Der Heijden et al. found that a controlled resistance exercise program without weight loss increases strength and lean body mass, improves hepatic insulin sensitivity, and decreases glucose production rate (GPR) without an affect on total fat mass or visceral, hepatic, and intramyocellular (fat stored in muscle cells) fat contents (2).


A further study, which looked at weight loss in female patients with obesity, found muscle mass can improve insulin resistance (3).


Bottom Line

In conclusion, it can be seen that muscle is important for our metabolic health. Research is consistently showing us that implementing any type of physical exercise is crucial when it comes to managing insulin and even reducing the risk of insulin resistance. Yet resistance training has been shown to be more favourable. Therefore, when it comes to PCOS, muscle mass really does matter. Along with an improvement in insulin levels you will notice a real boost in your metabolism, the more muscle you have the more calories you burn at rest.



(1) Srikanthan P, Karlamangla AS. (2011). Relative muscle mass is inversely associated with insulin resistance and prediabetes. Findings from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 96(9):2898-903. Available from:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21778224

(2) Van Der Heijden GJ, Wang ZJ, Chu Z, Toffolo G, Manesso E, Sauer PJ, Sunehag AL. (2010). Strength exercise improves muscle mass and hepatic insulin sensitivity in obese youth. Medicine and Science in sports and exercise. 42(11):1973-80. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20351587

(3) Fukushima, Y,, Kurose, S., Shinno, H., Thu, HC.,Takao, N.,Tsutsumi, H. and Kimura, Y. (2016). Importance of Lean Muscle Maintenance to Improve Insulin Resistance by Body Weight Reduction in Female Patients with Obesity. Diabetes and Metabolsim Journal. 40(2): 147–153. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4853222/

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