Being overweight is a major issue with more than half of patients suffering from PCOS patients. So, healthcare providers advise patients to lose weight, but people suffering from this syndrome believe it to be a difficult task.
Why it’s so hard for women with PCOS to lose weight? We asked Dr Aarthi Priyadharshini, Consultant Physiotherapist & Lactation Expert, Motherhood Hospital, Chennai. Here are some reasons she pointed out:
Appetite-Regulating Hormones Disorder
Aside from abnormal hormonal influences that regulate appetite and satiety, another factor that may make weight loss and weight maintenance difficult for people with PCOS is obesity. Women with PCOS have lower levels of appetite-regulating hormones ghrelin, cholecystokinin, and leptin. In people with PCOS, dysfunctional levels of these hormones may stimulate hunger, resulting in increased food intake and difficulty managing weight.
Your body is currently storing fat
Insulin is a hormone that transports glucose (your body’s primary source of fuel) from the bloodstream into cells where it can be used as energy. PCOS has an impact on your body’s insulin secretion and utilization. Because your cells become resistant to insulin signals, your pancreas produces even more insulin.
You’re hungrier than usual
Insulin acts as an appetite stimulant as part of the process of promoting fat storage. High insulin levels may explain why some people with PCOS are hungrier. Women who are insulin resistant have reported strong, intense, and even urgent cravings.
If these cravings are not fulfilled, it can spoil even the best eating habits, leading to increased calorie consumption and weight gain. Eating frequently, having enough protein with meals, and avoiding sugary foods are some of the effective ways to reduce cravings.
Imbalance in eating habits
If you’ve been watching your diet and still aren’t losing weight, it could be due to the foods you’re eating. Women with PCOS who followed a low Glycaemic Index diet improved their insulin levels threefold and had better menstrual regularity. Eating too few fruits and vegetables can also have an impact on weight loss. Furthermore, the high rates of anxiety and depression associated with PCOS are associated with poor body image and feelings of guilt and shame related to food.
You Have Sleep Apnea
Women with PCOS have a much higher risk of obstructive sleep apnea than women who do not have the condition. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the upper airway becomes blocked, resulting in a lack of oxygen during sleep. As a result, you’ll be sleepy during the day, have high blood pressure, and gain weight.
While obesity is the most common cause of sleep apnea, high levels of androgens (male hormones such as testosterone) seen in PCOS are thought to play a role in affecting sleep receptors. Sleep deprivation is linked to insulin resistance and weight gain. The greater the severity of sleep apnea, the greater the risk of impaired glucose tolerance.
Weight Gain That is Caused by Elevated Androgens
High levels of male hormones promote abdominal fat storage. As a result, when women with PCOS gain weight, it is usually in the stomach area. Excess belly fat can also raise insulin and androgen levels, which increases fat storage, creating a vicious cycle.
This is why most conventional doctors advise women with PCOS to lose weight that can reduce levels of androgens in the blood.
Weight Gain That is Caused by a Slow Thyroid
Women who have PCOS are four times more likely to have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune thyroid condition that causes hypothyroidism. Adrenaline stress can also cause hypothyroidism, as overworked adrenals signal the thyroid to slow everything down. A slow thyroid slows metabolism and can worsen insulin resistance and increase circulating testosterone by lowering SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin), resulting in additional weight gain.
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