Weight Loss with PCOS
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The month of September is an important month for me as it is something close to my heart as a fitness professional and most importantly as a husband. September is a month dedicated to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) awareness. One of the biggest issues as a fitness professional is helping people lose weight. As a husband, I have seen the toll it has taken on my wife. With PCOS losing weight can be harder said than done. There are so many factors that need to be accounted for and it can feel like an uphill battle trying to work around those factors. For those with the illness and trying to stay healthy or get back in to shape, it can cause motivation to decline if the results are not happening like you had hoped for.
Among the many symptoms and issues that come from PCOS is weight gain, difficulty to lose weight, fatigue, low energy, and sleep issues. The most common need among clients is usually weight loss. However, these are all challenges that need to be overcome to help a person reach that goal of losing the weight.
PCOS creates in the body a difficulty to control insulin. Insulin resistance is a major health issue that can lead to things like type 2 diabetes. With insulin resistance you create glucose to build up in your bloodstream. With this, high levels of Androgen are created which is why so many woman with PCOS tend to gain and keep weight around the stomach.
Yes, there are many ways to fight insulin resistance with diet, but that is just one piece of the puzzle. Training is a key part of the puzzle as well. With increased weight, low energy or fatigue, following a fitness plan can be very difficult. You may wonder why sleep is so important? Reason being is that studies have shown that 50% of your weight loss efforts are done during sleep. Getting a good nights rest every night is a vital need.
What are some ways we can fight PCOS through training?
Workout more days than rest days
Due to the battle with insulin resistance we need to help you increase your insulin sensitivity. Part of that is controlling spikes in blood sugar which can be aided by physical activity. The hard part about exercise however, when it comes to PCOS, is that very often women with PCOS don’t necessarily lose weight with exercise. It becomes a common way of just maintaining where they are.
We need to remember though physical activity like resistance training has a ton of more benefits than just losing weight. If we think about how often most people train however, the average person only trains 2 or 3 days a week. If you are dealing with an issue like PCOS however, I strongly encouraged that they train at a minimum of 4 days a week. If at all possible 5 days is ideal. By constantly putting our body in an active state regularly, you are giving your body more to burn and a better chance to get more control. 2 or 3 days a week of training just is not enough.
30 Minutes of Activity
You may be thinking though, who has time to train 5 days a week? I have a full time job, family, and other activities I would like to enjoy. All you need is 30 minutes. You don’t even have to leave the house if you don’t want to. There is no need to spend hours at a gym each day like so many people do. If you have a kettle bell or a pair of dumbbells, you can have an awesome full body workout in a short amount of time. Even without that, there is a ton of body weight exercises you can do for a great workout. The goal in these workouts is to get your heart pumping, and get your lungs puffing. Follow these workout tips to do just that:
Cardio – Interval training
Cardio is a go to for many people when it comes to losing weight. While, I am not a fan there is no denying that cardio can be an effective tool to burning fat. I always encourage that you use cardio on what you consider your active rest days or as a side part to a resistance training plan. However, some people love cardio and it is what motivates them to exercise. If cardio is your go to, my recommendation is to focus on interval style training. Instead of just jogging or running for 30 minutes straight, do more of a sprint jog interval. Sprint as hard as you can for 400 meters and then jog for 200 meters for 6 rounds. Or run for 1 minute and jog for 30 seconds for 15 rounds.
There are many reasons for doing interval training over steady state cardio. Besides the list of health benefits, you burn more calories after the workout is over. Interval training can be more enjoyable and having you come back for more. It builds endurance which is vital if your fighting the effects of fatigue. You also get more accomplished in a short time with this style of training.
Tabata style training is usually done in the fashion of four exercises done in short intervals of 20 seconds hard activity with 10 seconds of rest in an 8 round circuit. You can do with weight or without. Look at an example below:
8 rounds – 20 secs on 10 secs off in a circuit
- Air Squats
- Mountain Climbers
Exercises to burn fat
Some of the best calorie burning exercises include jump rope, burpees, split squat jumps, and battle ropes. Caloric burn ranges from 10 to 16 calories per minute with these exercises. That means within 10 minutes you can burn upwards of 100 calories. If you chose two of those exercises to do 5 days a week that would bring to 1000 calories a week. When I train in HIIT or Tabata style workouts, I love to start and finish the workout with 10 minutes of one of these exercises like jump rope. Creates a huge calorie burn that last for hours after the workout.
When it comes to fat loss, we need to realize that PCOS is not a friend and that results are not typical. It takes a lot more effort to reach the goals you have. But if you know how to attack these issues head on, you can achieve the goals you desire and have fun doing it. 5 days a week, 30 minutes a day, is not that much time when you think about it. Within that time, you can have a really intense workout that makes you feel strong and encouraged. Lastly, don’t ignore the benefits of having a training partner. Get a good friend or family member that you can rely on the help keep you encouraged and motivated.
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