What foods have been proven to help you lose weight, even when you’re suffering from PCOS?
Food can be just like a double edged sword (and sometimes we will all fall on our blade!)
On one hand, poor food habits can cause or exacerbate your PCOS. On the other hand, correct food choices can heal your body, mind, soul… and your PCOS. Food is absolutely among the best medicine.
Modifying your eating habits helps to empower your thyroid, normalize your gut, detoxify your liver, and balance your mood and energy levels. Each of these is critical for you to lose weight, and keep it off! The right food choices set the foundations for success in optimal health, not just in weight loss.
Strengthening your body is THE best way to help yourself. Far more powerful than the toxic hormonal treatments traditionally given to women with PCOS, which not only treat one symptom and may leave behind a legion of side effects, but also increase insulin resistance and inflammation – the drivers of PCOS.
The ‘RIGHT’ food for your PCOS-
Low Glycaemic Load (GL)
You need to look to food to overcome the metabolic mess that is PCOS. Diets may make tall claims about their miraculous successes, however, few will optimize your health or fix your PCOS. Do not consider yourself to be on ‘a diet’. All the word diet really means is ‘the usual food and drink a person consumes’. Think of your new food habits as your life giving, optimal, healing, food-plan.
What food plan will help you to lose weight?
Look to nature!
Nature provides the right mix of nutrients. It also provides low Glycaemic Load (GL). The food plan proven to deal with PCOS and obesity is the ‘Low Glycaemic Load (Low GL) food plan’.
Why Low GL?
Low Glycaemic load is the best way to combat insulin resistance and obesity; two formidable opponents in PCOS. Low glycaemic index (GI) foods are now quite well known. However, as helpful as this tool is, it does not take into account the amount of carbohydrates eaten. Fantastic foods such as watermelon are high GI, but low GL and perfectly healthy. If we just look to GI, we would avoid this great food. GL gives you a better measure of the affect a food or drink will have on your insulin levels.
Tip: Do not be misled into believing low carb food plans in the guise of meat, egg and cheese diets are healthy for weight loss. You need nutrients to successfully and healthily lose weight, and keep it off.
A food plan that includes foods consisting of complex carbohydrates is important. Complex carbohydrates are those that break down slowly during digestion and release a steady supply of sugar in our body rather than causing sudden spikes.
Due to the insulin resistance of PCOS, it is important for you to control your blood sugar levels. Including foods like fresh fruit and vegetables, gluten free grains, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes, are very helpful.
Tip: Do not starve yourself to lose weight. This is not sustainable, and not healthy. Very low carbohydrate food plans are successful in weight loss, but very low calorie means stress on your arteries.
“A word of caution:
Choose your low GL foods very carefully. As close to nature is best. Many of the low carb foods on the supermarket shelf are loaded with harmful fats, artificial sweeteners, and additives. Trying to avoid one harmful item may just land you with another. Make sure your low GL foods are high in healthy proteins or fibre, while free from additives and man-altered fats.”
Tip: Milk has been shown to spike your insulin levels as much as wholemeal bread. This really is best avoided. Or if you are a dairy addict and can’t go without, choose A2 only.
Good lean proteins are a must when you are trying to lose weight.
Proteins have a low GL.
They maintain the balance of your blood sugar levels and lend a helping hand with lowering insulin fluctuations at meal time.
Research studies have proven that including good lean proteins along with a low GL foods boosts your body’s metabolism, helping in weight loss and insulin resistance in women with PCOS. Proteins provide your body with a steady supply of amino acids that help in building and repairing all our body tissues.
Also, they are one of the important ingredients in the manufacturing our hormones and enzymes. Protein helps maintain your muscle mass, which is important for your metabolism. Plus, they keep you full longer.
How to meet your daily protein goal?
There are many different ways of including healthy proteins in your daily food intake.
Starting with breakfast, try an omelette with organic free range eggs, mix in some broccoli and cauliflower.
Snack on delicious (unsalted) nuts and seeds as you zigzag through your daily routine.
Check out some healthy dips like hummus – a savoury middle-eastern dip.
Steamed fish seasoned with fresh herbs, lemon with a dash of extra virgin olive oil is packed with lean protein for dinner. Toss in some cooked black beans, sprouts, grilled organic chicken or turkey breast or chopped hard-boiled eggs in your salad, and voila, you have met your daily protein goal.
And include a healthy, organic, gluten and dairy-free protein powder. Most women do not receive enough protein, so this can make all the difference. The one I have and recommend is here.
I cannot overstate how important it is for you to include good fats in your food plan – daily. This is pivotal in weight loss. The right type and right amounts of fats like the Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are a must. Good fats help improve insulin sensitivity. You cannot healthily lose weight without eating enough good fats.
Where can you get the ‘good’ fats
Oily fish like salmon, mahi mahi, tuna, mackerel and sardines are rich in healthy fats. Organic free range eggs are very beneficial. You can also choose a variety of vegan sources for your healthy fats like olives, avocados, nuts like almonds, pistachios, chestnut, cashews, pecans, and seeds like sesame seeds, flaw seeds, sunflowers etc. However, stay away from unhealthy fats like those that have been heated, exposed to oxygen or damaged in processing.
Nuts like almond and walnuts are great sources of protein, omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins, Vitamin E and minerals like copper, manganese, magnesium and potassium. The abundance of antioxidants in the nuts puts them in the category of ‘super-foods’.
Indulge in plenty of yellow, red, orange, green, blue and purple fruits and vegetables. Bringing variety to your foodplan by including various organic fruits and veggies from different colour spectrums also increases many other nutrients.
Organic is the word
Conventional farming may tarnish your food with insecticides, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and more. Persistent Organic Pesticides (POPs) were shown to increase the risk of Diabetes – an insulin-resistant disease, like PCOS. Insulin resistance increases weight gain, especially around the dangerous tummy area. Choose nutritious and safe organic fruits, vegetables, eggs, and poultry and meat products wherever possible.
To find organic products, look online. There are super food (and other) organic options here.
What not to eat
Refined flour, white rice, sugar, processed foods, and fruit juices containing simple carbohydrates are best avoided. As simple sugars get stored as fat and cause a spike in insulin levels, these simple carbohydrates are a poor health choice, particularly for women with PCOS looking to lose weight.
Check out this video for some hints…
I am happy to have been able to share this advice with you. I have seen it change lives (including my own – see below!)
Dr. Rebecca Harwin
The PCOS Expert
Chiropractor, Nutritionist, Bestselling PCOS Author
P.S. This information can really help women gain control of their PCOS, so remember to share this article link on your facebook, twitter or other social media account.