How to Lose Weight With PCOS

Salad bar
Healthy dieting is one component in losing weight with PCOS. (Image: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a health condition associated with weight gain, acne, infertility and abnormal hair growth. According to the website WomensHealth.gov, as many as one in 10 women have PCOS. Although experts do not know exactly what causes PCOS, many researchers believe it may be related to insulin. Other factors appear to be an imbalance of hormones and heredity, because many women with PCOS also have a mother or sister with the condition. Losing weight quickly with PCOS is difficult, but taking the right steps can help you begin to slim down.

Step 1

Spaghetti with meatballs
Avoid processed carbohydrates, such as pasta. (Image: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

Change your diet. According to dietician Martha McKittrick, a contributing writer to the website Obgyn.net, women with PCOS should not approach dieting the same way as other women trying to lose weight. Because many believe PCOS is linked to insulin resistance, a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet may be the most successful for weight loss. McKittrick recommends avoiding processed carbohydrates, such as pasta, cookies and white bread, and getting plenty of lean meats, dairy, fruits, vegetables and small amounts of whole grains.

Step 2

Woman stretching outdoors
Exercise. (Image: Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Exercise. Regular physical exercise can lead to weight loss and is particularly important for PCOS. The website 3 Fat Chicks on a Diet says that cardiovascular exercise can improve insulin resistance. Combine aerobic exercise, such as walking, swimming and dancing with weight training. Muscle burns more calories even at rest. However, because many women with PCOS have higher testosterone levels than average, use light weights so that you don't get bulky muscles.

Step 3

Doctor talking to patient
Ask your doctor about medications for PCOS. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Ask your doctor about medications for PCOS. Medications can correct the underlying hormone imbalances or insulin resistance, making it easier to lose weight. According to WomensHealth.gov, doctors may prescribe birth control pills to balance your hormones, or insulin-sensitizing medications, such as glucophage, to treat the insulin resistance.

Step 4

portrait of a young woman smoking a cigarette
Quit smoking. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Quit smoking. A 2009 study at University Hospital of Erlangen in Germany, led by Dr. Susanne Cupisti, found that smoking raised insulin levels and free testosterone in women with PCOS. Increasing insulin and testosterone will make PCOS worse, making it harder to lose weight.

Tip

Focus on improving your overall health and addressing the conditions underlying PCOS more than losing weight; once the PCOS is treated, weight loss will happen much more easily.

Warning

Avoid "crash" diets with severe calorie restriction. Use caution with traditional diet plans, as many focus on low-fat and high-carbohydrate and are therefore inappropriate for PCOS.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
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