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An ultimate guide to PCOS nutrition and exercise
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Team Gabit
3 months ago | 8 mins

An ultimate guide to PCOS nutrition and exercise


Living with PCOS proves to be one of the biggest challenges for a woman. Gain a deep understanding of the nutrition plan for PCOS and the exercises to incorporate with it.

Polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS is a hormonal disorder characterised by multiple cysts formation, irregular menstrual cycles, increasing number of androgens, insulin resistance and infertility. To control these symptoms, you require a strategic PCOS diet and workout plan that is easy to execute. 

Why diet matters in PCOS?

Your PCOS diet is of a high importance for multiple reasons. Firstly, a balanced diet reduces insulin resistance while a diet high in sugars and carbs encourages it. Type 2 diabetes that happens as a result of insulin resistance could be prevented with the best food for PCOS. Secondly, towards the development of PCOS, weight gain and obesity play a significant role and with a low-caloric and healthy diet can be managed well. Thirdly, PCOS being a hormonal disorder needs the hormones to be under control and a specific diet could assist in that. Fourthly, menstrual cycles could be improved and regulated with a nutrient-rich diet. 

know diet for pcos

Best foods for PCOS

Incorporate this PCOS food list in your diet and you’ll begin to see the changes - 

  1. Complex carbohydrates like legumes, whole grains and vegetables. 
  2. Lean protein like chicken, salmon, tuna, beans, tofu and tempeh. 
  3. Healthy fats like olive oil, almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, sunflower seeds and avocados. 
  4. Foods rich in antioxidants like berries, apples, kiwis, cherries, carrots, broccoli, asparagus, peppers and tomatoes. 
  5. Foods with low-glycemic index like non-starchy vegetables including cauliflower, spinach, peppers, cabbage, sweet potatoes and broccoli, berries and legumes. 
  6. High-fibre foods for PCOS like cereals, whole grains and fruits. 
  7. Vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, vitamin B, inositol, omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium. 
  8. Drink plenty of water. 
know diet for pcos

What to avoid in PCOS?

Now, that you know the best food for PCOS, here are foods to avoid for PCOS as well - 

know diet for pcos
  1. Processed foods like cakes, cookies, candies and instant and frozen foods. 
  2. Sweetened beverages and alcohol. 
  3. Foods made with white flour like breads, pastas, white rice, bagels and pizza crusts. 
  4. Cereals and other foods with high-sugar content. 
  5. Fried foods to avoid in PCOS include chicken, potato chips, burgers and french fries.
  6. Processed meats like hot dogs, sausages and frozen meatballs. 
  7. Foods with saturated or trans fat are a must to avoid. 
know diet for pcos

Exercise and PCOS: What's the connection? 

Exercise and diet for PCOS go hand in hand. Reducing BMI and weight management is crucial for PCOS because it prevents the disorder from going severe and affects other symptoms as well. Exercise helps to improve insulin sensitivity and shed off the risk of type 2 diabetes. Menstrual cycles and cardiovascular health can be regulated as a result of working out. 

Elevated androgen levels due to PCOS leads to excessive hair growth like men and acne. These male hormones can be governed and minimised with regular workout sessions. Stress and moods face an all time imbalance and are relaxed with calm exercises. 

Types of exercise for PCOS

Along with a PCOS diet, consider these exercises for effective results - 

know diet for pcos
  1. HIIT - It includes each high-intensity exercise of about 30-60 seconds followed by a few seconds to a minute of rest. It consists of squat jumps, lunges, jumping jacks, high knees, burpees and sprint intervals. 
  2. Cardiovascular exercises - These exercises aim for a healthy heart and include running. walking, riding a bicycle, jumping rope, dancing, stair climbing exercises and swimming. 
  3. Strength training - With varied benefits for blood pressure, metabolism and bones, these exercises are done with weights, resistance bands or your own body weight. 
  4. Yoga and pilates - These not only calm stress but also burn calories and help getting rid of any diseases. 
  5. Core strength - Planks, russian twists, bridges and mountain climbers are part of core strengthening exercises and benefit by supporting the lower back and giving stability. 
know diet for pcos

Eating and workout plan to treat PCOS

This sample PCOS cure diet and workout plan could help you in forming and executing yours - 

Workout plan - 

know diet for pcos
  1. You could plan your own training sessions with exercises like squats, lunges, jumping jacks, push-ups and others that you’d want to add to the list. Each exercise could be done for about a minute or two with breaks in between. 
  2. For cardiovascular exercises, take an aerobics or a dance class or go for outdoor jogging or walking.
  3. You could access HIIT and core strengthening sessions online or practise under a trainer at a gym. 
  4. Mind and body relaxing exercises like yoga and pilates could be done in a class or online at the comfort of your home. 
  5. Your exercise sessions should be for about 30-60 minutes a day for 3-4 times a week. 
know diet for pcos

Eating plan - 

  1. Your PCOS diet should be inclusive of every nutrient that your body requires from carbs and proteins to healthy fats, fibres, vitamins and minerals. 
  2. Consume nutrient dense and whole foods good for PCOS like grains, fruits and vegetables. 
  3. Include lean proteins like tofu, fish, chicken or tempeh.
  4. High-fibre options of fruits, vegetables and grains are a must in your diet. 
  5. Your PCOS food list to avoid should include sweetened beverages, alcohol, fried foods and processed foods.
  6. Be consistent with your meal timings everyday. 
  7. Dosa, poha, idlis, omelettes, whole-wheat toasts with a healthy spread or chillas make up a good breakfast meal. 
  8. For lunch food for PCOS, rice with dal, curd and salad works well. 
  9. Snacks could include a fruit bowl, roasted chanas or nuts and seeds. 
  10. Chapati with a vegetable curry or some protein could prepare a good dinner. 
know diet for pcos

Lifestyle changes to manage PCOS

Incorporate these final list of changes and see the best results in your lifestyle - 

  1. Calming stress - PCOS comes like a nightmare in any woman’s life and to wake up with it everyday is highly stressful. Practising your favourite hobbies, doing calm exercises, meditating, journaling, eating healthy food for PCOS and having community support around helps to achieve this. 
  2. Sleeping well - After the stress and exhaustion that comes with PCOS, your body needs a consistent, relaxing and refreshing sleep routine. 
  3. Don’t go hard on yourself - Do not overcommit yourself to anything, be it personal or professional that could increase the stress in your life adding to the one that is already caused by PCOS. 
  4. Consistency is the ultimate solution - Any of these suggestions like the PCOS diet, exercise or lifestyle plan wouldn’t succeed until it is performed with utmost discipline and consistency. 
  5. Have a PCOS community - Find yourself fellow PCOS patients and survivors for the motivation, support, confidence, self-esteem and comfort that you could build together as a community and then raise awareness about the same. 
know diet for pcos

When to see a doctor?

know diet for pcos

If you’re experiencing any PCOS symptoms, you must visit a doctor at the earliest and get yourself diagnosed or checked. The doctor would put you under the right treatments, advise you the right exercise and diet for PCOS alongwith the lifestyle changes you’d need to make. Make sure that you’re in regular checkups with the doctor to track your progress with PCOS. 

Conclusion

PCOS can never be easy to deal with but living with it in a healthy way is the only option to minimise its effects. Keeping yourself under medical check is as important as adapting changes in lifestyle, exercise and diet for PCOS. Keep your hopes and confidence high, connect with a community of women with PCOS, practise some stress busting exercises, sleep well and take small steps to make the best changes in your journey towards healing PCOS! 

know diet for pcos

Frequently Asked Questions 

How does diet affect PCOS?

Diet affects PCOS by healthy weight management, regulating menstrual cycles and hormones, reducing insulin resistance and decreasing the chances of type 2 diabetes. 

What are the best foods to eat for PCOS?

Best foods to eat during PCOS include whole and nutrient-dense foods. Rich in fibre, lean protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are the perfect foods for PCOS. Lean chicken, fish, tofu, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds are highly recommended. 

Are there foods I should avoid if I have PCOS?

Foods to avoid in PCOS include those with trans or saturated fats, processed meats and other processed food items, sweetened beverages, anything with high sugar content and food items made with white flour. 

How does exercise impact PCOS?

Exercise impacts PCOS by improving insulin sensitivity, boosting metabolism, lowering chances of diabetes, increasing strength, relaxing stress, regulating menstrual cycles and male hormones. 

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