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PCOS, weight gain and your diet

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a health problem that can affect a woman's menstrual health, hormones, heart, blood vessels, fertility and weight.

The cause of PCOS is unknown but several factors, including genetics could play a role. Diet is an important part of managing PCOS and that’s where Jane Plan can help you! Eating well, staying active, and maintaining a healthy weight and BMI can improve the way you feel.

Insulin and PCOS

Insulin is a chemical (hormone) that’s produced in the pancreas. Its main role is to control your blood sugar level. Insulin acts mainly on fat and muscle cells, causing them to take in sugar (glucose) when blood sugar level rises. Another effect of insulin is to act on the ovaries to cause them to produce the male hormone called testosterone. Women with PCOS have what is called insulin resistance and it means that cells in the body are resistant to the effect of a normal level of insulin.  As a result, more insulin is then created to regulate levels.  This raised level of insulin in the bloodstream is thought to be the main underlying reason why PCOS develops and it can also cause the ovaries to make too much testosterone. A high level of insulin and testosterone interfere with the body and produce the myriad of symptoms mentioned above. Increased insulin also contributes towards weight gain.

Knowledge is power

It’s a good idea to understand how certain foods can impact the insulin levels in the blood when living with PCOS. Foods that have a high glycaemic index (GI) can result in a quick rise in blood sugar levels and have often been processed to remove fibre and other nutrients. They might be tasty but they are quite often high in calories! Foods to watch out for include carbohydrates found in grains, such as white bread, jasmine and white rice, potatoes, rice cakes, muffins, cakes, cereal, most snack foods, including biscuits cookies and even some fruits.

Mix and match

Protein helps to regulate the sugar spike resulting from fruit, so why not mix in some nuts or seeds with your next fruit snack? Stock-up on cherries, apples plums, coconut, grapefruit, apples, pears, prunes and berries. Other things to pop in your trolley next time you’re at the shops are protein foods such as beans, hummus, nuts, peanut butter, tofu, eggs, fish, chicken, meat, and vegetarian meat substitutes are all good options in a PCOS diet. You can also incorporate good fats such as oil, salad dressing, plant-based protein and avocado as they are needed by the body.

Love your greens

Green, leafy vegetables have the most nutrients per calorie than any other food. They’re rich in iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and, as well as vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins. Buy lots of kale, spring greens, rocket and spinach and just think of all of the yummy salads you can make!

Thumbs down fats

Saturated, hydrogenated and transfats are all fats to avoid when coping with PCOS. They can lead to weight gain and high cholesterol. Saturated fats, found in red meat and dairy products can cause an increase in oestrogen production and block the absorption of some nutrients and can cause weight gain. The trans and hydrogenated fats, from cooked oil and processed foods, increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes so avoid if possible.


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