Introduction to how to get rid of PCOS belly
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects up to 10% of women of childbearing age. It is characterized by irregular menstrual cycles, excessive hair growth, acne, and weight gain. Many women with PCOS tend to carry excess weight around their belly. This phenomenon is commonly known as the PCOS belly.
The PCOS belly can be frustrating and make you feel self-conscious. The good news is that with lifestyle changes and natural remedies, you can get rid of your PCOS belly. In this article, we will discuss 12 science-backed strategies to help you lose belly fat associated with PCOS.
Understand the Link Between PCOS and Belly Fat
Before we get into how to lose belly fat with PCOS, it’s important to understand why it happens in the first place. PCOS leads to higher levels of androgens like testosterone. These hormones cause weight gain in the abdominal area. Insulin resistance is also common with PCOS, which makes it harder for the body to process carbs and sugars. This gets deposited around the midsection as visceral fat.
Follow a PCOS-Friendly Diet
Diet plays a major role in managing PCOS and promoting weight loss. Here are some diet tips that can help you specifically target belly fat:
- Choose low glycemic index foods like oats, quinoa, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds. These foods help control blood sugar and insulin levels.
- Increase intake of fiber from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, flaxseeds, etc. Fiber promotes satiety and improves gut health.
- Consume lean protein sources like chicken, fish, turkey, eggs, tofu, tempeh, etc. Protein boosts metabolism and reduces appetite.
- Avoid inflammatory foods like refined carbs, trans fats, alcohol, and processed meat. These trigger inflammation and exacerbate PCOS.
- Stay hydrated by drinking sufficient water and herbal teas. Proper hydration aids weight loss.
Engage In Regular Exercise
Exercise is extremely effective for getting rid of stubborn belly fat. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity like brisk walking or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise like running, swimming, hiking, etc. per week. Cardio exercises like Zumba, cycling, aerobics, etc. are excellent fat burners. Additionally, incorporate strength training 2-3 times a week to build muscle mass. Having more lean muscle boosts metabolism and burns more calories around the clock.
Try Yoga and Pilates
Gentle yet effective workouts like yoga and Pilates are highly recommended for women with PCOS. Yoga poses like plank, boat pose, bridge pose, frog pose, etc. strengthen the core muscles and tone the belly. Pilates moves such as hundred, crisscross, rollovers, bicycles, etc. specifically target the abdominal area. Aim to practice yoga/Pilates for 30-45 minutes daily.
Chronic stress leads to elevated cortisol levels, which triggers visceral fat accumulation. Practice stress management techniques like meditation, deep breathing, journaling, aromatherapy, spending time in nature, etc. to lower cortisol. Getting adequate sleep and following proper sleep hygiene is equally important.
Optimize Sleep Habits
Lack of sleep worsens PCOS symptoms and makes losing weight difficult. Make sure you get 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night. Maintain a regular sleep-wake cycle and create a relaxing bedtime routine. Avoid electronic devices before bedtime and make your bedroom dark, cool, and screen-free. Melatonin supplements can also improve sleep quality in some women with PCOS.
Consider Birth Control
For some women, being on birth control pills can help balance hormones and control PCOS symptoms. Combination pills with both estrogen and progestin can decrease androgens. This helps reduce facial and body hair and regulates periods. Speak to your gynecologist to see if birth control pills are suitable for your condition. Monitor their effects on your weight as some pills contribute to fluid retention or bloating initially.
Try Natural Supplements
Certain supplements and herbs may also aid weight loss and reduce belly fat:
- Inositol helps improve insulin sensitivity and reduce testosterone.
- Berberine has anti-inflammatory effects and helps regulate blood sugar levels.
- Green tea extract boosts metabolism thanks to its active ingredient EGCG.
- Guggul has been shown to support weight loss and manage PCOS symptoms.
- Cinnamon stabilizes blood sugar and decreases insulin resistance.
Always consult your doctor before taking any new supplements, especially if you have underlying health conditions or take prescription medication.
Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating techniques help prevent overeating and emotional eating – two habits that contribute to belly fat. Eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savor your food. Notice how the food smells, tastes, and makes you feel. Pay attention to portion sizes and hunger/fullness cues. Avoid distracted eating while watching TV or scrolling on your phone. Make mindful food choices and develop a healthy relationship with eating.
Drinking adequate water and unsweetened beverages is beneficial for reducing bloating and supporting weight loss. It boosts metabolism, suppresses appetite, flushes out toxins, and prevents fluid retention. Herbal teas are excellent hydrating and calming beverages for women with PCOS. Drink at least eight 8-oz glasses of fluids daily and more if you exercise. Carry a BPA-free water bottle and sip frequently.
Try Apple Cider Vinegar
The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar is credited with lowering blood sugar, improving insulin sensitivity, and aiding weight loss. Add 1-2 tbsp of organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a glass of water. Drink this before meals or in the morning on an empty stomach. Also, use it as a salad dressing. If you have GERD, dilute well and consume with a straw to prevent acidity.
NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis. These are the calories you burn from daily movement and activities besides your regular workout. Take the stairs, walk while talking on the phone, park farther away, fidget, dance while cooking, etc. Increasing your NEAT can make a significant difference in your energy expenditure and weight loss.
Track Your Progress
Monitoring your progress provides motivation and accountability. Use a fitness tracker or smartwatch to measure steps, calories burned, activity time, heart rate patterns, etc. Keep a food journal and weigh yourself once or twice a week. Take progress selfies and measurements. However, don’t get obsessed with the weighing scale as hormonal changes impact water retention. Pay attention to how your clothes fit, energy levels, sleep quality, and overall sense of well-being.
Getting rid of PCOS belly requires patience and consistency with the holistic strategies discussed here. Work on reducing inflammation, optimizing hormones, improving insulin sensitivity, stress management, and mindful eating habits. Make sustainable lifestyle and dietary changes instead of fad diets or “quick fixes”. Most importantly, be kind to yourself throughout the process. With time, you will be able to successfully minimize the PCOS belly and achieve better health.