Baseball, food and dancing are three of my favorite things. On a typical fall Monday night, you will find me cooking dinner while flipping back and forth between the Cubs game and Dancing with the Stars. Recently, one of the new celebrity dancers spoke out regarding her struggles with weight gain from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
What is polycystic ovary syndrome?
For those that are unfamiliar with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), it is more common than you might think. PCOS is the culprit of many of my female patients’ stress, fatigue and struggles with weight management. Women with PCOS experience irregularities in hormone levels and insulin resistance, struggle with fertility and commonly have great difficulties losing weight. Luckily, there are some methods that work better for weight loss over others.
1. Practice good meal pattern habits.
It is incredibly important to control metabolic hormones through proper eating habits. Skipping meals can cause wide fluctuations in insulin levels, which can make weight loss near impossible. Eating a meal or snack at least every 4 hours has shown to control insulin levels and help women avoid blood sugar crashes. If you are not a snacker, consider eating five to six small meals spaced evenly throughout the day.
2. Choose high-protein foods.
Protein naturally lowers insulin and blood sugar levels. That is why this is the most important food group for women with PCOS. Remember to start each day with a high-protein breakfast, whether it’s from eggs, lean meats or a power-packed protein shake.
One of the most important things to help with hormone control is to establish a routine for your body. The lifestyle factors that can influence hormone levels include how often you eat, what you eat and when you exercise. It is important to eat frequently and not skip meals. Ideally, all your meals and snacks should be balanced and not high in carbs and sugar. If you work out, try to exercise at the same time each day. The more your body follows the same daily routine, the easier it is to control metabolic and sex hormone levels.
4. Limit carbs & sugar.
Since carbohydrate-rich foods and those with added sugars raise blood sugar and insulin levels, it is good practice to cut down on these menu items. You don’t have to cut out bread, pasta and potatoes all together, but it’s a good rule of thumb to make sure these are the smallest portions of food on your plate. Load up on lean proteins and veggies to create satisfying and balanced meals.
5. Do regular strength training.
Every form of exercise has its benefits, but strength and interval training cause greater metabolic improvements. Strength training can help both retain and build lean muscle tissue while simultaneously burning fat. Reducing body fat is one of the best ways to speed up metabolism and control hormone levels.