Health & Wellness, Hormones, Infertility, PCOS / PCOD, PCOS PCOD, Weight Management, Women's Health
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Why does PCOS lead to weight gain? How to manage it?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is characterized by irregular or infrequent periods, fewer than six periods per year, extended periods (those lasting more than seven days), acne, weight gain, infertility, and the production of many cysts on the ovaries. The development of polycystic ovary syndrome begins at adolescence and continues throughout a woman’s reproductive years. It primarily affects women in their reproductive or childbearing years (15-44 years), which accounts for 12-18% of all women.

Weight Gain during PCOS

In women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, insulin resistance is the leading cause of weight gain. Insulin resistance occurs when the pancreas produces insulin yet some cells in the body do not respond to it. As a result, to maintain normal blood sugar levels, the pancreas produces more insulin. This causes an increase in the production of the male hormone, androgen. Acne increased facial and body hair, and weight gain are all linked to this condition.

While insulin resistance is mentioned as a major contributor to obesity, weight gain has been also associated with increased food cravings, emotional eating due to stress, anxiety, mood swings and depression, and a slower metabolic rate.

Risk Associated with PCOS Weight Gain

1. Insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes: Insulin resistance is common in women with the polycystic ovarian syndrome. Insulin helps in the maintenance of normal blood sugar levels in the body. As a result of the resistance, the body is unable to absorb sugar or glucose, which causes it to build up in the bloodstream. It triggers excessive production of male hormones in the body. It also increases women’s chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

2. High androgen Production: High level of male hormones causes various unfavorable effects in the body. Excessive hair growth on the face and body, severe acne, irregular periods, male-pattern baldness, and weight gain, which is often seen in males, are among the alterations.

3. High cholesterol and High blood pressure: Hypercholesterolemia, or high cholesterol, can lead to heart disease and stroke. A low-fat diet, medicines, and exercise can all be used to treat it. Meanwhile, Obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and a family history of hypertension can all contribute to high blood pressure. Hypertension has been linked to heart disease and stroke.

PCOS Symptoms infographic. Polycystic ovary syndrome. Detailed vector Infographic. Women Health.

4. Infertility: Obesity and being overweight have an impact on a woman’s fertility. Women with PCOS have a hormonal imbalance in their bodies, which leads them to gain weight and affects their fertility.

5. Endometrial cancer: Polycystic ovarian syndrome causes the body to produce too much estrogen, which increases the chance of developing endometrial cancer or uterine lining cancer.

How to manage it?

Even losing ten percent of your total body weight can help regulate periods and improve fertility, not to mention it will alleviate many other symptoms associated with PCOS to a large extent. It can also help with insulin resistance and lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes. This requires a suitable diet plan to instill healthy eating habits and a healthy lifestyle.

1. A Low-Carbohydrate Diet: Carbohydrates affect insulin levels in the body; hence eating a low-carbohydrate diet is vital and beneficial for maintaining normal insulin levels. The recommended daily carbohydrate consumption for an average adult is 130 grams or 45 to 65 percent of total calorie intake.

2. A low glycemic diet: A low glycemic diet, in addition to a low-carbohydrate diet, is beneficial. The glycemic index, or GI, assesses how quickly a particular food raises blood sugar.

3. A high-fiber diet: A high-fiber diet can also help with polycystic ovarian syndrome because fiber keeps you fuller for longer. This translates to fewer hunger sensations, lower insulin resistance, and weight loss in the stomach area.  

4. Healthy proteins and fat: Healthy protein and fat sources such as eggs, almonds, nuts, avocado, olive, coconut, and seafood, among others, must be included in the diet.

5. Fermented foods intake: Foods like kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and other fermented foods can aid weight loss by raising and maintaining the number of healthy bacteria in the gut. These meals include a lot of probiotics, which can aid with weight loss and metabolism.

6. Mindful of Hunger and Fullness: Being mindful of hunger and fullness is also beneficial, particularly for women with PCOS who are more likely to develop an eating disorder. By minimizing binge eating, mindful eating helps in weight reduction.

7. Reduce inflammation: PCOS promotes chronic inflammation in women, which leads to obesity. Inflammation in the body is exacerbated by processed meals and sweets. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and omega-3-rich meals, such as fatty fish, may help to reduce inflammation.

8. Regular Exercises: Weight training and cardio exercises can help women with polycystic ovarian syndrome lose weight while also lowering insulin sensitivity.

9. Good Sleep Schedule: For a healthy lifestyle, a minimum of 8-9 hours of sleep is advised. Sleeping for less than 7 hours each night can disrupt the balance of hunger-controlling hormones such as ghrelin and cortisol; an increase in the amount of these hormones leads to an increase in appetite, which is associated with weight gain. Sleeping well also helps you lose weight.

10.  Stress Management: Stress raises levels of the hormone cortisol in the body, which can lead to weight gain and insulin resistance. As a result, stress management is critical for weight loss.

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