Among the bodily changes that PCOS brings is weight gain. One study found that women with PCOS gain more weight annually than those without.
That’s because PCOS can make your body more resistant to insulin, leading your pancreas to make more.
Extra insulin increases fat storage and hunger, contributing to weight gain. In the long run, this may put you at risk for fatty liver, high cholesterol, and hypertension.
The same study found that one’s lifestyle factors and habits can exacerbate PCOS weight gain. Thus, one way to address this weight gain is by consuming healthier food.
But before we dive into the best healthy foods for combatting PCOS weight gain, let’s talk more about PCOS and the ideal PCOS diet:
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is common among women of childbearing age. The most common symptoms of this hormonal condition include irregular menstrual cycles and high levels of testosterone in the body.
Because of this, you may develop small cysts in your ovaries or fail to ovulate.
Deeper knowledge of PCOS will let you know that its other symptoms are excess hair growth, a higher number of eggs on ultrasound, and fewer menstrual cycles yearly.
While PCOS isn’t curable, its symptoms—particularly weight gain—could be managed through your diet.
What the ideal PCOS diet looks like
Although PCOS normally causes weight gain, too much could damage your health. This is why you must tailor your diet to accommodate PCOS and weight loss.
The best diet for PCOS weight loss is one that is rich in nutrients and sustainable, so you can follow it for longer.
Although no exact diet can remedy PCOS and help you lose weight immediately, several approaches can assist you. The Mediterranean diet is one.
Since it involves eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and nuts, it meets the recommendations for a PCOS weight loss diet.
These recommendations include filling up on fiber that keeps you fuller for longer and stabilizes your insulin levels, eating protein to slow down the absorption of sugar, and limiting processed food consumption to further control your blood sugar.
To give you a better idea of the things you should eat, take a look at these best healthy foods for PCOS weight gain:
The best healthy foods to eat for PCOS weight gain
Fish is rich in healthy fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids. This helps regulate your hormones, aiding your PCOS.
In terms of weight loss, omega-3 fatty acids boost metabolism so your body can burn more calories during rest and physical activity.
You can include many fish in your diet, like tuna, cod, and salmon. Our compilation of low-carb salmon recipes suggests various dishes you can try, like grilled salmon on cauliflower rice.
These meals simply involve grilling salmon with olive oil, salt, and pepper, so they may be easier to fit into your current lifestyle, schedule, and budget.
Some examples of lean meat are beef, lamb, and pork. Preferably, choose those with grass-fed or organic labels.
These have lower levels of animal hormones, so they’re more likely to not aggravate the hormonal imbalance caused by PCOS.
Lean meats are also rich in protein and have low saturated fat, preventing you from consuming more calories.
Some recipes that include lean meat are beef and broccoli and sweet and sour pork. Even better, simply swap out your regular meats for leaner ones in your favorite dishes, like hamburgers.
Whole grains have high fiber levels that help manage your insulin.
Not only will this aid PCOS, but it can help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes—a condition that’s heavily associated with weight gain and uncontrollable insulin levels.
Examples of whole grains are whole wheat pasta, oatmeal, and brown rice, with quinoa being among the best whole grains for PCOS due to its significantly high fiber and protein content.
To incorporate these into your diet, use them as the base for your meals. For instance, you can have a brown rice bowl topped with fish and vegetables or a whole wheat pasta dish with lean meatballs.
Kale, spinach, cabbage, arugula, and bok choy are all leafy greens that are nutrient-rich and low in calories, meaning you won’t be consuming too many calories that could be converted into fat.
They also contain Vitamin B, which can alleviate PCOS symptoms like insulin resistance, weight gain, and irregular periods.
Leafy greens are great to add to pretty much any meal, making it easier to incorporate them into your current diet.
You can add them to soups, blend them into smoothies, or incorporate them into pasta sauces. You can add salads as side dishes to countless meals, too.
Berries are rich in antioxidants. A study on PCOS and antioxidant imbalance reveals that antioxidants can reduce levels of oxidative stress and inflammation that contribute to insulin resistance.
Antioxidants also help the breakdown of fats in the body, leading to weight loss.
You can eat berries as snacks, use them as toppings for salads or yogurts, or blend them into smoothies.
With various berries to choose from, like blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, there are countless ways to add them to your favorite snacks and desserts.
Weight gain is prevalent among women with PCOS. Fortunately, you can still stay healthy and prevent the development of chronic conditions by losing weight and eating the foods listed above.