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How to lose weight if you have PCOS

Happy woman

Fertility specialist nutritionist and dietitian Stefanie Valakas explains how to eat to manage your weight if you have polycystic ovary syndrome.

Q I’ve just been diagnosed with PCOS and am struggling to shift excess weight (I have at least 10 kilos to lose). What can I do to lose weight without feeling hungry all the time?
Jacinta, NSW

A PCOS, which stands for polycystic ovary syndrome, is a hormonal condition that affects between 10 and 20 per cent of women of reproductive age. It can cause irregular periods and is diagnosed when polycystic-appearing ovaries are detected on an ultrasound (they are actually follicles or future eggs, not cysts!). Other symptoms include acne, hair growth on your face and hair loss.

About 85 per cent of women who are diagnosed with PCOS also have insulin resistance, which can lead to weight gain and difficulty in losing weight. Research suggests women with PCOS also burn fewer kilojoules/calorie when they are at rest.

To support your PCOS and weight loss goals without experiencing constant hunger, ensure your meals are well balanced. They should contain slow-release, wholegrain carbohydrates such as brown rice, quinoa, wholemeal pasta, grainy bread and wholemeal couscous; good protein sources such as eggs, fish, chicken, meat, tofu, legumes and beans; plenty of non-starchy veg for filling fibre; and be accompanied by healthy fats like avocado, nuts, seeds and extra-virgin olive oil.


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