We know all too well the frustration of losing weight with PCOS and so many of us want to know how to lose weight with PCOS. Time and again doctors have told us that we need to lose weight to improve our symptoms but they don’t offer any guidelines as to how to do that. Try as we may, our bodies just won’t co-operate.
We’ve already looked at why weight loss is so hard with PCOS but now it’s time to look at HOW to lose weight with PCOS. This research is of particular interest for me personally as my little guy is now 6 weeks old and I was unfortunately not able to breastfeed as I was severely anaemic following the birth. I was devastated to not be able to breastfeed but the up side is that I can now tackle my PCOS and baby weight.
So, let’s look at the action plan and just how we can lose weight in spite of PCOS....
Increase the Protein Content of your Diet
A study published in 2011 shows that women who have a higher protein to carbohydrate ratio in their diets have greater weight loss than those women who eat a standard diet (1). The study followed 57 women with PCOS who were assigned to two groups: those following a standard diet (less than 15% calories from protein and 30% from fat) and those with a higher protein diet (more than 40% calories from protein and 30% from fat). The women following the higher protein diet lost more weight after 6 months than those eating a standard diet and they also had a smaller waist circumference.
This confirms something that I have believed for a long time and explains why I always suggest a protein or meat component for every meal.
I’ve already written an article on the benefits of Inositol for PCOS (which you can see here). Let’s look at Inositol in terms of weight loss, though.
A study done in Italy with 92 women with PCOS looked at the benefits of Inositol for women with PCOS. 47 of these women were given 4g of Inositol per day with 400mcg Folic acid while the other group of 45 women took the Folic acid only. After 14 weeks, the women taking Inositol and Folic acid showed significant weight loss, as well as improvements in their metabolic markers. The folic acid group gained weight instead of losing it. (2)
I firmly believe that Inositol was key in improving my fertility to help me conceive. I also feel that it helps to manage my carb craving. I personally prefer taking the powder form as the capsules tend to be fairly low dose and you land up taking 8-10 capsules per day.
I use Jarrow Formulas Inositol Powder, 227g, which is available from Amazon.
Restrict your Caloric Intake
This seems a pretty obvious one and makes sense to a lot of us. But, how much should we be restricting our calories to? That’s a really difficult question to answer because it really depends on your current weight, your basal metabolic rate and your activity levels.
One study done with overweight women suggests that a diet of 1200-1500 calories per day (3, 4). It’s important to note that many of the women involved in the study were obese. You would probably need to increase your calories if you’re exercising and leading a more active lifestyle. Another piece of research suggests 1800 calories per day to maintain weight in overweight women with PCOS (5).
So, I would suggest that less than 1800 calories per day is advisable if you want to lose weight, aiming for 1200-1500 calories per day, bearing in mind that you may need to increase that if you are very active and exercising frequently.
Making any kind of diet and lifestyle changes is difficult and we often need the support of those around us. One person you may not think of providing support is your doctor. You may want to consider approaching your doctor for help. One study found that women who had regular 6 monthly appointments with their doctor were able to lose more weight than those who didn’t. Their doctor gave advice on a healthy diet and lifestyle and prescribed medication if it was necessary (6).
There are also many other forms of support to keep you accountable and encourage you on your weight loss journey, from forums and support groups to weekly weigh ins. If you do feel like you need some help with weight loss as well as nutritional advice, PCOS Diet Support offers weekly meal plans and an online community to give you all of the help that you need. You can check it out here.
In the interest of covering all of the bases, I think we need to look at exercise In relation to PCOS and weight loss. We know that exercise is hugely beneficial to managing PCOS and its symptoms (you can read more about that here). Interestingly, though, exercise does not necessarily result in weight loss for women with PCOS and a restricted calorie diet is one of the most effective ways to lose weight with PCOS (7).
Summing it Up
We all know how tough it is to lose weight with PCOS. The good news, though, is that it’s not impossible! If you are ready to make some changes and lose some of the extra weight, why not try these things:
- Increase your protein intake
- Take Inositol
- Restrict your calories
- Get support
If there is something that I’ve missed that has really helped you or if you have had success in losing weight in spite of your Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, please leave me a comment below!