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Lifestyle Management Of PCOS

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a complex metabolic condition that is thought to affect 5-10% of women. Diagnosis can feel unnerving but management of PCOS doesn't have to be hard work.

Symptoms of PCOS can vary from woman to woman but may include infertility, irregular periods, unexplained weight gain, acne, oily skin, skin tags, increased body and facial hair growth, cysts on the ovaries, pelvic pain, and male-pattern baldness.

Additionally, the medical world has acknowledged that PCOS can involve insulin resistance; the reduced ability of insulin to carry glucose (sugar) from the blood into the body cells. This means the pancreas produces excess insulin, leading to an increase in stored body fat. In PCOS, insulin resistance also appears to increase male hormone production, such as testosterone - which is great news if you're a female athlete as this can certainly help you excel in sport.

But outside of athletic performance, if you're affected by PCOS you're probably feeling that the cons outweigh the pro. The good news is that women with PCOS can positively impact their condition with a bespoke nutrition plan and exercise.

A nutritional strategy for PCOS is focused on improving the effects of insulin resistance by managing the interplay between the reproductive and endocrine systems.

Guidelines To Help Manage PCOS

  1. It has been recommended that a balanced diet with 40% energy from slow carbohydrates, 30% from fats, and 30% from protein could reduce severe PCOS symptoms and improve metabolic balance. (1)

  2. Carbohydrate intake has the most effect over insulin response but severely limiting carb intake is not the answer. Prioritise slower digesting, whole carbs such as grains, beans, peas and lentils and remember that veggies are a fantastic source of fibrous carbohydrate.

  3. Smaller meals throughout the day, trying not to go longer than 4 hours without food may be beneficial for managing blood sugars.

  4. Focus on healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, and fatty fish.

  5. Include both cardio and resistance training... If you move, the insulin will move!

  6. While fat loss sometimes feels harder with PCOS, achieving it can greatly improve insulin resistance, lessen PCOS symptoms, and often improve fertility.

If you do not have an official diagnosis but identify with the PCOS symptoms above, first seek advice from a medical professional trained in endocrinology. There are medical treatments that can treat PCOS along with a healthy lifestyle.

If you want to better manage symptoms yourself, a bespoke nutrition plan is a great way of cutting the confusion and getting clear on what to eat.




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