Women who suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome already know that they’re facing an uphill struggle. PCOS leaves women more vulnerable to weight gain – sometimes very rapid weight gain – and can cause irregular periods and fertility problems.
Of course, speaking with your doctor and keeping up a good relationship with your OB/GYN is very important, but there are still a few things you can do at home to give your body a fighting chance in combating PCOS symptoms.
Here are five strategies to try.
Keep Your Foods Low Carb, and High Protein
One of the main symptoms of PCOS is called “insulin resistance.” This happens when your body becomes less responsive to the effects of insulin, and your system needs to make more and more to help you turn glucose into energy. When it can’t keep up, you start to gain weight.
Foods that are high in carbohydrates break down into glucose in your system – and if you have PCOS, that means your body has to work overtime to compensate. However, a diet that favors protein-heavy foods over carb-heavy foods will not tax your system as much.
A high-protein and low-carb diet is one of the best ways for women with PCOS to combat weight gain. As always, speak to your doctor before choosing this type of diet, and ask for their recommendations on appropriate foods to eat.
Eat 5 to 6 Small Meals Per Day
The average person will eat three fairly sizable meals per day. However, this could be harmful to someone with PCOS. A more advisable alternative might be to have smaller, more frequent meals.
Here’s the theory behind this thinking: if there is less waiting time between meals, your body won’t have a chance to go into “fasting mode,” which can throw hormone levels out of balance (remember that insulin is a hormone). Also, by keeping the time between meals shorter, you’re not as hungry, and therefore it’s easier to eat sensible portions.
Definitely stick to the high-protein, low-carb plan with this approach, assuming your doctor says it’s okay.
Exercise 5 Days a Week, For at Least 30 Minute
You don’t have to run a marathon or deadlift a small car to overcome the challenges of PCOS. In fact, all you have to do is keep up a modest workout schedule most days of the week.
There’s no one type of workout that’s better than another. The idea here is for you to find a workout that you enjoy, and are therefore more likely to stick with. So it’s entirely up to you whether that comes in the form of jogging, yoga, dancing, weightlifting, hiking or biking. As long as it elevates your heart rate, gets you moving, and doesn’t overwhelm you, it will be accomplishing the goal of boosting your metabolism, and balancing out your hormone levels.
Decrease (or Give Up) Caffeine Intake
This one can be a bit hard to take, but hear us out…
Caffeine consumption can encourage the production of estrogen. With PCOS, your system is already producing a bit too much of this hormone, especially around ovulation.
If you drink a single cup of coffee or tea per day, you are probably not affecting your hormone levels too much. However, anything beyond that could be a problem.
Weaning yourself off of caffeine can be a slow process, and you are allowed to take it at your own pace. Be advised that quitting caffeine “cold turkey” can cause some pretty heavy lethargy, not to mention searing headaches. So take it slow, but keep the end goal of lower caffeine levels in your sights.
As we mentioned before, some of the main culprits behind PCOS are hormones such as estrogen and insulin. Food that has been certified organic will have significantly lower levels of added hormones, and that means there will be less overall effect on your system.
This is especially important if you choose to adopt the higher protein diet. Meat, fish, and eggs can sometimes come from farms that use extra hormones, so do your homework, read your labels, and choose your foods accordingly.
PCOS presents a unique set of challenges, but with a few simple changes, you can give yourself a fighting chance to combat weight gain and keep your symptoms in check. As always, a good relationship with your doctor will play a vital role in helping to overcome this aggravating condition. Keep up with your appointments and follow these suggestions, and you can begin to take back control of your system and your hormones!