How to Lose Weight With PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a health condition associated with weight gain, acne, infertility and abnormal hair growth. According to the website, 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.

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

Step 1

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, 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

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

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, doctors may prescribe birth control pills to balance your hormones, or insulin-sensitizing medications, such as glucophage, to treat the insulin resistance.

Step 4

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.


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.


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.

Load Comments

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.