No matter who you are, chances are your body has changed quite a bit since your early 20s. Losing weight can be difficult for anyone and changing over two decades of established lifestyle habits can be super overwhelming. And, if you’re a woman with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), losing weight is even more difficult.
PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects up to 20% of women of childbearing age. It impacts everyone a little differently depending on their PCOS type, but one of the main symptoms of PCOS includes infertility, irregular periods, acne, and abdominal weight gain, often called “PCOS belly.”
So, today, I’ll explain what PCOS belly is, what causes it, and give you some tips to get rid of it. Here’s what you need to know:
What is PCOS Belly?
PCOS belly is the disproportionate accumulation of abdominal fat in a woman with polycystic ovarian syndrome. A woman can totally have increased body fat and weight gain elsewhere, but for many with PCOS, there’s a higher concentration on the belly. It’s usually the hardest to get rid of too! Even when you achieve your ideal body mass index (BMI) you may still have the stubborn pouch of belly fat.
What Causes PCOS Belly?
- High Testosterone
- Insulin Resistance
- Poor Sleep
What Does PCOS Belly Look Like?
This really depends on the person, but simply PCOS is extra fat around the midsection that is disproportionate to the rest of the body. It’s usually bloated and prominent, giving you a so called “apple” shape.
How To Get Rid of PCOS Belly
Manage your blood sugar levels.
The main way to get rid of PCOS belly fat is to stop the cycle of stress and insulin resistance. The “cycle” is when your body produces stress hormones in response to inflammation, hormonal imbalances, or your own anxiety. This triggers your body’s fight-or-flight response, causing an increase in insulin resistance, androgens, and weight gain. This rise in insulin resistance then worsens inflammation and hormonal imbalances, and the weight gain has you stressed! See the vicious cycle?
So, in order to stop the cycle, you need to first manage your blood sugar. Insulin resistance is when your body doesn’t process sugar correctly, and instead of converting the glucose to energy, it stores it in your body. (There’s the fight-or-flight response.) You can improve insulin sensitivity and lose PCOS belly fat by watching your sugar intake carefully and doing the rest of the suggestions on this list!
Start measuring your hip to waist ratio.
Jumping on the scale isn’t always an accurate reflection of your weight loss progress because there are just too many factors that can throw off the number and then throw you off for the rest of the day! Instead, measuring your waist to hip ration helps you understand how much belly fat you’re losing, which means you’re improving insulin resistance and inflammation and that has more of a significant impact on your metabolic health & PCOS than just a number on the scale. So, grab a measuring tape and:
- Breathe out
- Use a tape measure to check the distance around the smallest part of your waist just above your belly button, this is your waist circumference!
- Measure the distance around the largest part of your hips- this is your hip circumference
- Then, download The Cysterhood app and input your data in our WHR Ratio Tracker! This way you you can track your progress and learn how to lose weight with PCOS, with the added benefit of gluten and dairy free recipes and PCOS friendly workouts
Take the right supplements.
Supplements can also help support your body and get it out of this fight-or-flight mode. Make sure you discuss new supplements with your doctor before beginning, but here are some beneficial supplements for people with PCOS and how they could help:
- Lowers male hormones (androgens): zinc, omega-3, Ovasitol
- Reduces insulin resistance: Ovasitol, omega-3, vitamin C, probiotics, magnesium, and chromium
- Maintains hormone balances and more: Adrenal support and vitamin D3
You can purchase a lot of these from my NSF-certified supplement line, Ovafit! The Metabolism Plus bundle includes omega-3 and a multivitamin that covers most of your vitamin needs. And, my Ovasitol powder makes getting these super important supplements for PCOS really easy. All of these supplements were specifically designed for a PCOS body, and they can help you find symptom relief and get rid of that PCOS belly.
Reduce your stress levels and caffeine intake.
As I mentioned, stress is a main component of that cycle. So, when you can manage stress, you’ll probably see big improvements in hormone balance, insulin resistance, and weight management! To de-stress, try meditating, getting out in nature, doing things you love, exercising, and resting. Here are more self-care ideas for women with PCOS.
I also included caffeine here, because caffeine is actually a big contributor to stress. It works by increasing the cortisol (stress hormones) in our bodies to make us more awake and alert. However, too much has us feeling anxious, wired, and stressed. So, try reducing your caffeine. After you’ve had too much, it won’t help you stay awake anyway, it’ll actually cause adrenal fatigue and trigger your body to pack on the pounds.
Do low-impact, full-body workouts.
Full-body workouts and strength training can be a great way to burn a lot of energy and therefore fat! However, I don’t recommend doing a lot of high-impact intense workouts that get your heart pumping. That can raise your cortisol levels and throw you back into that insulin resistance cycle.
The best exercises for PCOS include slow-weighted workouts, yoga, pilates, light cardio, and walking. All pretty easy, right? If you need more guidance, listen to this episode of A Cyster and Her Mister where I discuss the Dos and Don’ts of PCOS exercise. Then, download The Cysterhood app for all of my PCOS workout plans!
Get 8 hours of good sleep.
Sleep is essential for weight loss! It helps manage your insulin sensitivity, hormone balance, and stress levels. I recommend turning off screens in the evening, creating a calming nighttime routine, and going to be early enough to get a full 8 hours.
With PCOS, I know that is easier said than done, because women with PCOS are much more likely to experience sleep issues over the average woman. Here’s more on how to improve sleep with PCOS. Once you get sleep under control, losing that belly fat will get easier!
Eat well with an intentional diet.
Finally, the right diet can help women with PCOS lose PCOS belly fat. Your diet shouldn’t be super restrictive, stressing out your body more. Plus, every diet needs to be just as much about what you should eat and not so much about what you shouldn’t eat.
I recommend you consider an anti-inflammatory gluten- and dairy-free diet that includes a lot of PCOS-fighting foods. It can help you reverse PCOS and find tons of symptom relief even beyond weight loss. You can learn more about my PCOS diet plan here and download The Cysterhood app for meal plans and PCOS-friendly recipes that’ll help you reach your goals!
PCOS Weight Loss Belly Fat Results
If you need proof that you can do this, look at one of our Cysters Kristi! She downloaded The Cysterhood app, joined our community, and started her natural PCOS healing journey in 2021. With the help of the PCOS Weight Loss resource, she figured out the lifestyle changes she needed to make to see that PCOS belly melt away. It’s pretty amazing! This can be your story too!
PCOS belly can be hard to lose, but with the right lifestyle and diet changes, you can get there!
There are few things as frustrating as doing everything you’re “supposed” to do to lose weight, and seeing zero progress. This is the experience most Cysters have with weight loss! However, your body is unique and requires a unique approach to weight loss. Start your journey here with us at The Cysterhood and my tips for losing weight with PCOS!
We’ll help support you the whole way, and I’ve got tons of resources to make weight loss easier and more effective for women with PCOS. We can do this together! You got this!