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Constance Tambakis Odom, MD graduated in 1987 with her Doctorate of Medicine from the New York Medical College, and was an Anesthesiologist Resident from 1988 to 1991 at the Brookdale Medical Center PGY II (CA-I)-PGY IV (CA-III). She is Board Certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology since 1998 and American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine since 2002. Constance Odom, MD is affiliated with the American Medical Association, American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, American Society of Anesthesiology, Georgia Society of Anesthesiology, Hellenic Medical Society of New York, North Carolina Society of Anesthesiology, and Society of Ambulatory Anesthesia.
Weight gain is a problem that comes with age. Your body changes. Your metabolism slows. But for many women, there is another problem at play—PCOS.
Short for polycystic ovary syndrome, PCOS is largely responsible for weight gain in women aged 11 and above. In many cases, women don’t know they have PCOS until they have trouble getting pregnant. Other women may not develop PCOS until they are in their 20s or 30s.
PCOS is one of the most prevalent causes of infertility. While scientists don’t know the exact cause of PCOS, many speculate that high androgen levels may be to blame. Androgen levels are linked to the central obesity index in older individuals. Androgens play a vital role in the body’s development. They also cause an increase in fat mass, as a result of the natural process of aging.
So, why exactly do you gain weight from PCOS? According to experts, weight is a struggle that many women with PCOS must deal with. Women with PCOS typically have higher concentrations of male hormones. As a result, their sensitivity to insulin is reduced, and they may become insulin resistant. This results in weight gain.
Many women with this condition are obese or overweight, which raises the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, uterine cancer, and sleep apnea. If you have PCOS and want to lose weight, a variety of weight loss tactics may help. You must be willing to make lifestyle changes, such as incorporating exercise into your daily routine.
PCOS makes it harder for your body to process insulin. Insulin turns starches and sugars into energy. When this process doesn’t happen naturally or as it’s supposed to, the body develops insulin resistance, and glucose builds up in your system. As a result, androgens in your body increase, and can cause a number of problems.
These problems can include irregular periods, the growth of body hair, and most notably, weight gain. This weight gain usually accumulates in the abdomen and is caused by male hormones. Men typically carry weight in the stomach area. A woman’s body usually takes the shape of a pear when she gains weight.
However, the bodies of women with PCOS typically take the shape of an apple. As the most dangerous type of fat, stomach fat increases your risk of developing some health conditions. A number of risks come along with PCOS weight gain. These may include high cholesterol, endometrial cancer, and high blood pressure. Many of the conditions associated with PCOS can lead to heart disease.
As you probably know, there are many benefits to losing weight that are caused by PCOS. The first step to losing this weight is to consult with your doctor. He or she will determine your waist size and check your weight. This will determine your body mass index (BMI). There may be cases when your doctor prescribes you medication for PCOS. Medications approved to treat PCOS include Metformin, oral contraceptives, such as ‘The Pill,’ and anti-androgen medications.
As a drug that treats type 2 diabetes, Metformin works by helping the body process insulin effectively, while reducing the production of testosterone. Studies have also found that like many diabetes drugs, Metformin helps you lose weight. Up to 12 percent of American women of reproductive age have PCOS. This can be devastating for women, especially for those who want to start a family. With PCOS, sugar increases in the bloodstream and causes a number of problems, including impairing ovary function and ovulation. This can cause problems with egg release and development. According to experts, to get rid of PCOS weight gain, you should adopt a low-carbohydrate diet. Increase your protein intake, and be very selective about the food you consume.
While there is no magic formula for diet, low carb diets seem to be the best. However, they are not for everyone. Some people may need carbohydrates to function properly, but the key to losing weight on any diet is to remain consistent and committed. However, experts recommend low-carb diets, because women with PCOS are often insulin resistant. Low-carb diets limit sugar, which is why they are especially effective.
If you are on this diet, however, you will need to increase your protein intake. With this type of diet, you should aim to consume roughly 90 grams of protein per day, if you want to lose weight. Experts also recommend eating many non-starchy vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables include such foods as bean sprouts, artichoke hearts, asparagus, and bamboo shoots. You should also aim to eat two to four servings of fresh fruit each day. However, it is important to avoid fruit juices, as these are loaded with sugar.
It may also help to remove grains from your diet entirely. However, if you feel that your body needs grains, you can have whole-wheat bread or brown rice. If you have difficulty losing weight with a low-carb diet, it may be time to sit down with your doctor. He or she will be able to help you implement a low-calorie diet.
According to PubMed, losing just five to 10 percent of your body weight can minimize the psychological, metabolic, and reproductive symptoms of PCOS.
Another good way to lose weight caused by PCOS is to exercise before you eat. Exercising before you eat boosts your metabolism and causes your body to convert carbohydrates into energy, instead of fat. Exercising on a regular basis also tells your body to utilize extra “glucose stores” in your body. This helps lower insulin levels.
If you have PCOS, it is important to focus on high-intensity interval training, because it uses short “bursts of energy.” Any type of high-intensity cardio exercise will increase your heart rate. Utilizing strength training activities is also beneficial. Muscles use glucose for energy, and building extra muscle improves metabolic health and insulin sensitivity.
Loading up on fiber can also help you lose weight. When you consume fiber, you feel full longer and are not consuming huge amounts of calories. In fact, complex carbohydrates that are high in fiber don’t raise blood sugar and will not make you crave foods, like sugary carbohydrates do.
Healthy fats are a big deal for weight loss. According to experts, healthy fats make you feel full, especially if you are looking to minimize your carbohydrate intake. Studies have found that women who ate foods that are high in healthy fat lost more weight than women who simply ate a low-fat diet. To make healthy fats work for you, you should try to eat 200 calories worth of healthy fat with each meal.
Adding avocados or olive oil to a meal can help you achieve this goal.
Eating more fermented foods can also help you lose weight that is caused by PCOS. Women with PCOS typically have gut bacteria that are less healthy than that of other women. This may contribute to the problem of weight gain. However, experts assert that more research is needed to learn the benefits of probiotics. Probiotics, as a whole, help with weight loss and improve gut health. Consuming one fermented food per day improves good bacteria in your stomach, making you feel better overall.
Examples of fermented foods are kefir, yogurt, sourdough bread, and pickles. Certain cheeses and miso are also fermented foods that aid in weight loss.
Caffeine also has an effect on your weight. Coffee affects hormone levels and can influence stress hormones and ovulation. This can potentially lead to hormonal problems. While eliminating coffee from your diet is the ideal, some people may struggle with this. If you absolutely must have some type of caffeine, consider eating something else first. That way, it doesn’t have as huge of an impact on your insulin levels.
Women with PCOS typically have bigger insulin spikes. This makes them more hungry and more likely to reach for foods that are high in processed sugar. Added sugars are a problem, too. If you’re looking to lose weight related to your PCOS, it is important to cut out added sugars. Added sugars significantly increase blood sugar levels. As a result, you feel very hungry and may crave certain foods. This is not unique to women with PCOS. Everyone who eats foods with added sugars becomes very hungry.
However, added sugars seem to affect women with PCOS more abundantly. You should also be mindful of what you eat. Some people eat while they are on the go, like when they are in the car. However, it helps to be aware of the situations in which you eat. External stimuli can be distracting, so it may help to pick specific mealtimes to eat.
Eating slowly is also a good idea. Savor your food, and you will find that you are more aware of what you are eating and the situations surrounding your eating habits. Mindful eating centers on “body-related sensations,” eating experiences, and a heightened awareness of the food you eat.
With mindful eating, you pay special attention to your feelings and thoughts about food, while paying attention to the food you choose.
Nu Image Medical has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.