Struggling with weight is a common symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Whether the person struggles to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, usually excess body fat is a concern for a woman with PCOS. However, not every Cyster is overweight or obese.
PCOS doesn’t look like one thing. There are dozens of symptoms both visible and internal that vary widely between Cysters. So, though many women managing PCOS have weight loss as a goal, others may not struggle with this at all!
When a woman has a healthy BMI (body mass index), but also has PCOS, we call this “lean PCOS.” I’ll get into exactly what lean PCOS is, why it happens, and what to do about it below! Every Cyster with PCOS deserves relief, no matter the severity of your struggles or symptoms:
What Is Lean PCOS?
Lean PCOS is when a Cyster does not struggle with weight loss or weight gain. She still has similar or even the same PCOS symptoms as someone who does, but these things don’t affect her weight. However, the symptoms still leave you at risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease just like anyone else with PCOS.
Because of the lack of visible symptoms, lean women with PCOS sometimes find it difficult to get a diagnosis. Usually, it isn’t until they struggle with fertility, develop excess body hair, or get labs completed that a doctor even considers PCOS as a possible diagnosis if the woman isn’t overweight.
The bloodwork could even show that the woman is insulin resistant and has elevated blood sugars, which is a telltale sign of PCOS. However, the woman’s diet, physical activity, stress levels, or even genetics mean that her hormonal imbalances don’t affect her weight as severely.
It’s important to remember that there are multiple types of PCOS, and the first step to healing is to understand what category you fall under. Make sure to take our quiz and do your own labs to understand what is going on in your body.
And, again, even if you’re lean, you could still have PCOS, and your symptoms could be just as debilitating as someone who struggles with PCOS-related obesity. Just like one Cyster may have acne and excess body hair and another has fatigue and hair loss, one Cyster may be at an unhealthy weight whereas another is not. We’re all different, but we can all get through it with a few key lifestyle changes, which I’ll get into in a moment!
Lean PCOS Causes
The cause of PCOS is unknown. Medical professionals and researchers still don’t understand polycystic ovarian syndrome fully, which is part of the reason medicinal treatment methods have been so unhelpful for a lot of us. However, some studies suggest the following causes:
Lean PCOS Symptoms
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Excess body hair
- Hair loss
- Skin tags
- Dark patches of skin
- Mood swings
- Depression and Anxiety
- Pelvic pain
- Sleeping issues
- Elevated blood sugar levels and insulin levels
- Polycystic ovaries
- Dental problems
- Lowered immune system
How To Treat PCOS
No matter your PCOS type, you can get it under control naturally. You don’t have to live with these symptoms! Here are some ways you might find relief and healing from your PCOS symptoms:
Eat right and consider going dairy- and gluten-free.
Eating well and going on the right diet can help alleviate a lot of your PCOS symptoms. Inflammation and insulin resistance are two of the main culprits from your worst PCOS symptoms. So, many women see improvements when they cut inflammation-causing dairy and gluten altogether and eat a low carb diet full of intentional foods.
When you stop eating the foods that exacerbate your symptoms, and instead grab ones full of helpful vitamins and minerals that increase insulin sensitivity, balance hormones, and reduce inflammation. You can find a great list of PCOS fighting foods HERE, and if you’re ready to get on a true PCOS diet, use my meal plan to help you stay on track with delicious meals and snacks!
Take the right vitamins and supplements.
Even a healthy body struggles to get all its necessary vitamins and minerals from food alone. Everyone should have some sort of vitamins and supplements routine! For PCOS this is especially important to help give your body the support it needs to regulate and heal.
If you have lean PCOS, you might be thinking, “What do I need exercise for?” Well, everyone should exercise no matter their weight! Beyond weight loss benefits, the right PCOS exercises can help you alleviate fatigue, sleeping issues, anxiety, irregular periods, acne, and improve fertility.
All that can come from some great PCOS-friendly workouts! However, many women feel pressured to do intense workouts that weaken our adrenals. Kick-boxing and spin classes may sound like fun, but if you struggle with anxiety and fatigue, this high energy exercise will likely not help with symptom relief.
Instead, opt for slow-weighted workouts that stabilize stress hormones and provide the perfect exercise routine. You can follow along with our PCOS workouts when you join The Cysterhood.
Limit your alcohol consumption.
You don’t have to say no alcohol always, but it shouldn’t be a part of your everyday routine. Remember, our liver is what processes our hormones, and alcohol affects our liver. That means too much alcohol could worsen our hormonal imbalances leading to worsening depression, menstrual irregularity, and other negative side effects. Try to cut down as much as possible!
Drink less caffeine.
Caffeine can cause what’s called “adrenal fatigue.” If you’re a woman with PCOS, your body might naturally have more stress hormones from inflammation and insulin resistance. When you feel tired, you might go for a cup of coffee or an energy drink, however, all caffeine does is tell your adrenal system to create more stress hormones.
Cortisol (stress hormone) is great in moderation. It awakens our body and ensures we stay alert and focused. However, too much will have you wired and fatigued. So, when your body already has too much cortisol and caffeine is asking your body to make more, your whole adrenal system goes into overdrive and you get MORE tired.
So, if you struggle a lot with daytime sleepiness, insomnia, or even anxiety and irritability, try cutting caffeine. It’ll help your body balance the stress hormones and melatonin to keep you calm, but alert, and most importantly, awake! For more about caffeine and PCOS, listen to this episode of my podcast.
Research has shown that CBD can help with a number of PCOS symptoms. Many people report deeper sleep, reduced stress, more regular menstrual cycles, easier weight loss, and even improvements in their depression and anxiety. For the best CBD products and how to choose which are right for you, check out this post.
Taking care of your PCOS starts with taking care of yourself! Since hormonal imbalances leading to stress are so pervasive for Cysters, it’s essential we engage in self-care.
You can take care of yourself and practice mindfulness by meditating, getting enough sleep, using essential oils, doing your favorite things, and getting outside! Your mental and physical health are integrally connected. Take care of both for successful PCOS healing.
Diet Plan for PCOS
Lean PCOS is when a Cyster has polycystic ovarian syndrome without weight gain.
If you’re a woman who’s been curious about PCOS for a while, because a lot of the symptoms apply to you, definitely consider calling your doctor. Even if you’re not obese or overweight, you could still have polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Assuming you find out you do have PCOS, join us in The Cysterhood, a community of women like you with PCOS who need support, guidance, and education through their healing journey. My blog, podcast, and community can help you take your life back and achieve symptom relief. Let’s do it together!