How to Lose Weight With PCOS and Maintain Your Motivation
Slimming down can be an uphill struggle. But it can be an even harder feat with PCOS. This chronic condition leads to higher concentrations of oestrogen in the body, which, in turn, causes fat to cling in stubborn places. So, if you have PCOS, you may gain weight from simply continuing to live your life as you did before receiving your diagnosisi.
And yet losing weight is known to improve a host of PCOS symptoms: it can reduce insulin resistance, regulate menstrual cycles, restore ovulation, improve fertility, bolster emotional wellbeing and reduce risk factors for heart disease and diabetesii. While it may require a little more motivation, losing weight certainly appears to be a worthy investment if you have PCOS.
How to lose weight with PCOS?
Contrary to popular thought, losing weight isn’t just about deprivation or counting calories. The key to long-lasting weight loss is maintaining motivation. Critically, you must focus on when, what and how you eat. This approach will help combat the tiredness, irritability and cravings that are notorious for leading you astray. If you’re stuck in a cycle of perpetual dieting disasters, we recommend trying these helpful weight loss tips.
Break the fast
It may sound counterintuitive, but skipping breakfast isn’t a clever calorie-cutting ploy. In truth, it could be detrimental to your weight loss efforts. A nutritionally dense breakfast is the key to starting the day healthily. It balances your blood sugar levels, which tend to run short when you first wake up. Without breakfast, low blood sugar levels will trigger the release of stress hormones, hitting you with powerful cravings for refined carbohydrates and sugariii.
Ideally, your breakfast should include a combination of protein and healthy fats. This will help to prevent the mid-morning crash, which can take you off course and hijack your weight loss goals. Try starting your morning with a satiating vegetable omelette and avocado, or a bowl of Greek yoghurt with grated apples, nuts, cinnamon and berries. You could even add some hormone-happy foods for a feel-good kick.
For many people, snacks are brilliant energy boosters that tide them over between meal times. But for others, they can be unhealthy calorie grenades that encourage overindulgence. So, what’s the verdict? Public Health England now advocates the consumption of two snacks a day at regular intervalsiv. These small nuggets of energy may help to control hunger cues, regulate appetite and maintain weight loss motivation. However, this isn’t permission to indulge in refined, sugary treats. Your snacks should be no more than 100 calories. Try some of the ideas outlined below:
Exotic fruits: Indulge in a medley of your favourite exotic fruits, like passion fruit, figs, dragon fruit, lychee, grapes and melon.
Roasted chickpeas with paprika: Add a can of chickpeas to an oven dish with a little oil and a sprinkling of paprika, and watch them transform into a crunchy, protein-filled snack.
Plain popcorn: A natural whole grain and low in calories, popcorn is the ultimate everyday snack. You can even add a sprinkling of sea salt if you fancy.
Mini quiches: Make a selection of mini quiches or Spanish omelettes and enjoy in between mealtimes. Add your favourite veggies and a little cheese for a nutritionally-dense snack.
Add more protein
If you’re trying to lose weight, you can often be plagued with the sensation of never feeling satisfied or full enough. To mitigate this, you need to be fully embracing of protein. Protein is a vitally important macronutrient that excels in many areas of health. Alongside supporting the building blocks of tissues, bones, muscles, skin and blood, this compound plays an essential role in metabolic function and satiety. That’s precisely why protein is one of the best weapons to keep you slim, lean and strong.
Ensure every meal and snack contains a rich source of protein – be it animal or plant-based. This will stabilise your blood sugar levels and provide your body with a slow-release of energy. Meat, fish, eggs, quinoa, pulses, and nuts and seeds are all excellent protein sources.
The content of your meals and snacks are central to staying in shape. But what about your mealtime rituals? Mindful eating is firmly grounded in Buddhism and aims to reconnect you to the entire eating experience. In very simple terms, the practice encourages you to appreciate every granular detail of food: its smells, textures, flavours and appearance.
Research suggests that mindful eating can also support weight loss, thanks to it helping combat overindulgence, cravings and emotional eatingv. To adhere to the principles of mindful eating, try eating your food slowly, chewing every bite and paying close attention to the flavours; savour the stillness and silence of mealtimes; ruminate on the journey your food has taken to reach your plate.
Ultimately, mindfulness will prompt you to tune into and track your feelings. It will encourage you to ask: “am I hungry, or am I simply craving food through boredom, frustration, or stress?’ Practicing general mindfulness can also be a great way to increase self-esteem and boost your confidence.
Interestingly, dehydration is often confused for hydration. Because your body compensates for the low energy caused by low fluid levels, dehydration can cause hunger pangs. And when you’re dehydrated, you are more likely to experience tiredness, irritability, brain-fog and headaches – all of which can chip away at your willpower and motivation to eat healthily.
Guidelines suggest drinking around eight to ten large glasses of water per day. As a rule of thumb, aim for a quantity that turns your urine a pale colour. If water isn’t for you, try adding sliced citrus fruits for a more appetising beverage. Always keep a bottle of water on your desk, too. Remember, fruit and vegetables are also packed with water; filling up on these will give you an extra hydration boost.
If you’re juggling work, family commitments and socialising, exercise can feel like another chore on your never-ending to-do list. But physical activity is critical for weight loss and motivation. When you exercise, the body releases feel-good hormones called endorphins, which flood the brain with a euphoric rush. If you feel energised and rejuvenated – as opposed to sluggish and lethargic – chances are you’ll be more motivated to nourish your body and stick to a healthy eating plan. You don’t even have to get your daily fix of movement in one big chunk. You can find easy ways to be more active during the day: walk, run or cycle to work; use your lunch break to go for a brisk walk with your colleagues; take the stairs instead of the lift; do a quick burst of squats or lunges during TV adverts.
‘Dieting’ shouldn’t take the magic away from food. And it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t have a treat once in a while. We all need to look forward to something. Sometimes, that’s the key to staying motivated. A couple of squares of good quality dark chocolate is a delicious after-dinner treat. Plus, it’s rich in magnesium, which is an excellent fuel for your mood. Find out more about the role that magnesium plays in PCOS treatment here.
PCOS weight loss diet plan
Breakfast: Porridge with banana, berries, chia seeds and cinnamon Snack: Small handful of cashew nuts
Lunch: Poached eggs, avocado, spinach on wholegrain toast
Snack: Apple with a spoonful of nut butter
Dinner: Smoked salmon, quinoa, and kale
The techniques outlined above endeavour to stabilise your energy levels, keep your mind sharp, and elevate your mood – all of which can help you maintain the motivation to achieve your weight loss goals with PCOS. Before embarking on any weight loss journey, we recommend consulting a healthcare professional. For more diet and weight advice or general PCOS guidance, take a look around our hub.
Rosenfield, R.L. and Ehrmann, D.A. (2016). The Pathogenesis of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): The Hypothesis of PCOS as Functional Ovarian Hyperandrogenism Revisited. Endocr Rev. (37) 5: 467-520
Sirmans, S.M. and Pate, A.K. (2014). Epidemiology, diagnosis, and management of polycystic ovary syndrome. Clin Epidemiol. (6): 1-13.
Kamada, I., et al. (2011). The impact of breakfast in metabolic and digestive health. Gastroenterology Hepatology Bed Bench. (4) 2: 76–85.
NHS.UK. (2018). 100 calorie snacks - Change4Life. Available online: https://www.nhs.uk/change4life/food-facts/healthier-snacks-for-kids/100-calorie-snacks#bJjmLGk5XLfsaKYW.97
Publishing, H. (2018). Mindful eating may help with weight loss - Harvard Health. Harvard Health. Available online: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/mindful-eating-may-help-with-weight-loss
Chau, J.Y., et al. (2015). Sedentary behaviour and risk of mortality from all-causes and cardiometabolic diseases in adults: evidence from the HUNT3 population cohort. Br J Sports Med. (49) 11:737-42.
Disclaimer: The information presented by Nature's Best is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications.
Olivia Salter has always been an avid health nut. After graduating from the University of Bristol, she began working for a nutritional consultancy where she discovered her passion for all things wellness-related. There, she executed much of the company’s content marketing strategy and found her niche in health writing, publishing articles in Women’s Health, Mind Body Green, Thrive and Psychologies.