One of the major obstacles facing women with PCOS is the weight gain that has become synonymous with it. Approximately 50 to 60% of all women with PCOS are classified as obese. One of the major reasons why obesity is common in PCOS sufferers is the body’s inability to process insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the conversion of sugar, starches and other food into energy for the body to use or into fat for the body to store. Women with PCOS make too much insulin; therefore a special diet must be adhered to in order to prevent weight gain. In healthy women, studies have shown that losing just 5% of your body weight can lead to an improvement in skin clarity, improve the regularity of menstrual cycles and decreased insulin levels. So for women with PCOS, losing even a small amount of weight can have massive benefits.
The common sense diet that most healthy people use to lose weight might not work for many PCOS sufferers. Adding extra carbohydrates to your diet, especially in the form of sweets, white bread and white rice, also know as refined carbs, will rapidly turn to sugar in the body and cause higher levels of insulin. High levels of insulin have been known to cause a myriad of health problems for PCOS sufferers. A better way to approach dieting for women with PCOS is a low glycemic diet (Low G.I). This is essentially any diet that limits foods that the body can quickly turn into sugar.
Once you’ve cut down on the amount of refined carbs in your diet, it may take some guesswork to find the optimal balance for your body. There are several dietary suggestions available, such as the food pyramid, which states that you should receive approximately 55% of your calories from carbs, a diet called “The Zone”, which says 40% is the desirable target and even diets like Atkins which say no more than 20% of your calories should be from carbs. There is no way to say which dietary plan will work for you, personally. Every woman is different, and that difference is amplified with PCOS.
Recent studies have shown that for women suffering from PCOS, a diet with approximately 50% of calories from carbs is recommended, but only if you’re not obese and you exercise regularly. If you’re obese and you’ve shown to be resistant to insulin, you shouldn’t consume more than 40% of your calories from carbs, or even less depending on your degree of carb resistance. These, however, are only guidelines. The most important thing you can do before staring a dietary regimen is to consult a doctor who is knowledgeable about PCOS.
A good way to tell if the diet is “working” is if you have fewer cravings and a higher energy level, weight loss, decreased insulin levels in the body and regular periods.
Please be aware that some of the popular diets out there tell people to replace carbs in their diets with fat. This isn’t a wise choice for women with PCOS, since PCOS raises a woman’s chances of heart disease and a high fat diet seriously raises the risks further. Make your diet as healthy as possible, it’ll be easier to follow and the results will be better for you!
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