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Understanding the Link Between PCOS and Weight Gain

Updated: Apr 10

Why does PCOS lead to weight gain?
It's primarily due to insulin resistance, a common hallmark of this condition. Insulin helps convert food into energy, but in PCOS, the body struggles to use insulin effectively, resulting in higher blood sugar levels. This triggers the production of excess male hormones (androgens), leading to symptoms like irregular periods, acne, and weight gain. Moreover, insulin resistance can disrupt hunger hormones, causing increased cravings and calorie consumption.

The Impact on Your Body

PCOS affects various parts of the endocrine system, including the ovaries and pancreas. Fluid-filled sacs may develop on the ovaries, hindering ovulation. Mood swings and hormonal imbalances are also common. Weight gain, particularly in the abdominal region, is prevalent due to hormonal fluctuations and insulin resistance. This abdominal fat, known as visceral fat, poses significant health risks, including heart disease and diabetes.

Androgen Levels and Body Shape

High androgen levels in PCOS can lead to male-pattern characteristics like excess facial hair and an apple-shaped body. This fat accumulation around the abdomen is influenced by cortisol levels and insulin resistance. Women with PCOS often exhibit this body shape due to hormonal imbalances.

Contributing Factors

Apart from PCOS, several factors contribute to weight gain. Unhealthy eating habits, sedentary lifestyles, genetic predispositions, and stress can all play a role. These factors disrupt hormonal balance, increase calorie intake, and promote fat accumulation, exacerbating PCOS symptoms. Insulin resistance affects 50% to 75% of people with PCOS. In people with insulin resistance, the insulin does not convey glucose into the cells properly. The result is glucose building up in the bloodstream and the fat cells, which raises the risk of diabetes.

healthy food, salmon, avocado, nuts
The Mediterranean diet is commonly recommended by dietitians. It offers a wide variety of foods from all categories, so it is easy to follow.

The Health Effects of Obesity

Obesity is linked to various health conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, liver problems, joint pain, insulin resistance, and diabetes. Managing weight is crucial to prevent these complications and improve overall health.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing PCOS involves recognizing symptoms like irregular periods and excessive hair growth, alongside expert evaluation. Treatment often focuses on lifestyle modifications like diet and exercise. A low-carb, high-fiber diet, regular exercise, and stress management are essential. Medications like oral contraceptives and metformin may also be prescribed.

Addressing Bloating and Fat Loss

Including greens, omega-3 fatty acids, and fermented foods in your diet can alleviate bloating. Protein-rich meals, weight training, and mindful eating aid in fat loss. PCOS-specific weight loss plans should prioritize nutrient balance and individual needs.

woman with hands on stomach
Diet is key to reducing bloating caused by PCOS. Foods you should consider avoiding are: Foods that contain raffinose, a specific carbohydrate that is not always well digested. This includes asparagus, beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower.

Consult a Professional

PCOS management varies for each individual, highlighting the importance of seeking expert advice. Tailored approaches to diet, lifestyle, and medication can effectively manage symptoms and promote overall well-being.

Speak to one of our specialists to help you navigate through your symptoms and your path to holistic wellness.

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