How To Lose Weight With PCOS: Best Diet & Exercise Tips 2024

how to lose weight with pcos

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how to lose weight with pcos
Women with PCOS can take control of their weight loss journey. Photo: Nghi Tran

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)[1] is a hormonal disorder that affects up to 10% of women of reproductive age. One of the most common symptoms of PCOS is weight gain, which can be challenging to manage. For women with PCOS, losing weight can be a struggle due to insulin resistance and hormonal imbalances. However, weight loss is achievable with the right diet[2] and exercise regimen[3]

In this article, we’ll explore the best diet and exercise tips for women with PCOS who want to lose body weight. We’ll cover the benefits of incorporating nutritious foods such as healthy fats, whole grains, and high-fiber foods into your diet, as well as reducing processed foods and sugary snacks. We’ll also delve into the importance of regular exercise, resistance training, and mindfulness to improve metabolic health and insulin sensitivity. With these tips, women with PCOS can take control of their weight loss journey and improve their overall health and well-being. 

8 Natural Ways To Lose Weight With PCOS Fast

  • Eat Fewer Carbs
  • Get More Fiber
  • Sleep Enough
  • Increase Protein Intake
  • Choose Healthy Fats
  • Manage Stress
  • Resistance Training
  • Drink Water

How To Lose Weight With PCOS

how to lose weight with pcos
There are several ways to lose weight with PCOS. Photo: Pormezz/Shutterstock

Eat Fewer Carbs

PCOS and insulin resistance go hand in hand. A low-carb diet[4] has been shown to reduce insulin resistance and improve weight loss in people with PCOS. Eating fewer carbs can help regulate insulin levels, which can help manage weight. Eating more healthy fats, like those found in nuts and avocados, can also help manage blood sugar levels.

Get More Fiber

Fiber is an essential nutrient that helps you feel full and satisfied after meals. It also helps regulate digestion and prevent blood sugar spikes[5]. Aim to prepare healthy meals and eat plenty of fiber-rich foods[6] like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. These foods can also help reduce inflammation and suppress appetite, which is a common issue for people with PCOS.

Sleep Enough

Getting enough sleep is crucial for weight management, as lack of sleep can disrupt hormones that regulate appetite and metabolism. Aim to get at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. Try to establish a regular sleep schedule and avoid caffeine and electronics before bedtime. Also, relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing can help reduce stress levels and improve sleep quality.

Increase Protein Intake

Consuming more protein can help with weight loss by reducing appetite and boosting metabolism[7]. Good sources of protein include lean meats, fish, eggs, nuts, and legumes.

Choose Healthy Fats

Including healthy meals in your diet can help with weight loss by reducing inflammation and regulating hormones. Good sources of healthy fats include avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish[8].

Manage Stress

Chronic stress can increase cortisol levels and lead to weight gain. Try meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or other relaxation techniques to manage stress.

Resistance Training

Strength training can help build muscle mass and increase metabolism, leading to more effective weight loss. Focus on exercises[9] that target multiple muscle groups, such as squats, lunges, and push-ups.

Drink Water

Staying hydrated can help with weight loss by reducing hunger, boosting metabolism, and improving overall health. Aim for at least eight glasses of water per day.

By incorporating these natural methods into your weight loss journey, you may see improvements in PCOS symptoms and overall health. However, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet or exercise routine.

Why Is Losing Weight So Difficult With PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects up to 10% of women, and it can make weight loss challenging. People with PCOS often struggle to prevent weight gain and have difficulty losing weight due to insulin resistance, hormonal imbalances, and other metabolic factors. Insulin resistance causes more insulin to be produced, which leads to an increase in fat storage, particularly around the abdomen. 

The hormonal imbalances in PCOS, including high levels of male hormones called androgens, can lead to excess hair growth and acne, but they can also contribute to weight gain. Additionally, women with PCOS tend to have a higher risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea, which can further contribute to increased body mass index (BMI)[10]. All of these factors make it difficult for people with PCOS to maintain a healthy weight, but there are diet and exercise strategies that can help.

What Are The Risks Of PCOS-Related Weight Gain?

how to lose weight with pcos
PCOS is a hormonal disorder that can cause weight gain. Photo: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that can cause weight gain, especially in the abdomen. Excess weight gain can worsen PCOS symptoms and increase the risk of other health problems such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. The accumulation of abdominal fat can also lead to obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that causes breathing interruptions during sleep. 

In addition, PCOS-related weight gain can exacerbate the hormonal imbalances in the disorder, such as elevated levels of male hormones called androgens. This can lead to irregular menstrual cycles, infertility, excess hair growth, and acne. Fortunately, losing weight can improve PCOS symptoms and reduce the risk of associated health problems. Therefore, it is important for people with PCOS to adopt healthy lifestyle habits such as regular exercise[11], a balanced diet, and stress management techniques for weight maintenance and reduce the risks associated with PCOS-related weight gain.

When To See A Doctor

how to lose weight with pcos
You should seek medical advice when experiencing PCOS symptoms. Photo: Alena Menshikova/Shutterstock

Suppose you suspect you have PCOS or are experiencing symptoms such as irregular periods, weight gain, hair loss or excess hair growth, acne, and difficulty getting pregnant. In that case, scheduling an appointment with a healthcare provider is important. Additionally, if you are struggling to lose weight despite making lifestyle changes or are experiencing rapid weight gain, it may be a good idea to seek medical advice. 

It’s important to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan to manage PCOS symptoms and prevent potential complications such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and infertility. Your healthcare provider may recommend lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, medication to regulate hormone levels or referral to a specialist such as an endocrinologist or gynecologist. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help and support in managing your PCOS.


In conclusion, managing weight with PCOS can be challenging, but there are natural and effective ways to achieve weight loss and improve overall health. Eating a low-carb, high-fiber diet, getting enough sleep, managing stress, and engaging in regular physical activity can help manage symptoms and prevent serious health complications. 

It’s essential to consult a healthcare provider if weight gain is a concern, as well as if symptoms such as irregular periods, excess hair growth, and acne persist. Early diagnosis and treatment of PCOS can help prevent long-term health risks and improve quality of life. By taking a holistic approach to weight loss and health management, individuals with PCOS can achieve their weight loss goals and improve their overall well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is PCOS?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age.

Can PCOS cause weight gain?

Yes, PCOS can cause weight gain due to insulin resistance, hormonal imbalances, and other factors.

Can women with PCOS lose weight?

You can lose weight with PCOS by adopting a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise, and making lifestyle changes.

Is there a specific diet for PCOS?

There is no one-size-fits-all diet for PCOS, but eating a balanced diet with whole foods and limiting processed and sugary foods can be helpful.

Can PCOS be cured?

There is no cure for PCOS, but symptoms can be managed with lifestyle changes, medications, and other treatments.

Can PCOS affect fertility?

Yes, PCOS can affect fertility due to hormonal imbalances and other factors.

What are the symptoms of PCOS?

Symptoms of PCOS include irregular periods, acne, weight gain, hair growth on the face and body, and difficulty getting pregnant.

When should I see a doctor for PCOS?

You should see a doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of PCOS or have concerns about your reproductive health.

+ 11 Sources

Tnhealth has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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  2. Crystal Clark Douglas, Gower BA, Darnell BE, Ovalle F, Oster RA, Azziz R. Role of diet in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome. Fertility and Sterility. 2006;85(3):679-688. doi:
  3. Trapp E, Chisholm DJ, Freund J, Boutcher SH. The effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise training on fat loss and fasting insulin levels of young women. International Journal of Obesity. 2008;32(4):684-691. doi:‌
  4. Zhang X, Yang Z, Guo Y, Lai Z. The Effect of Low Carbohydrate Diet on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. International Journal of Endocrinology. 2019;2019:1-14. doi:‌
  5. Najmieh Saadati, Haidari F, Barati M, Roshan Nikbakht, Golshan Mirmomeni, Rahim F. The effect of low glycemic index diet on the reproductive and clinical profile in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Heliyon. 2021;7(11):e08338-e08338. doi:‌
  6. Marsh K, Steinbeck K, Atkinson F, Petocz P, Brand-Miller J. Effect of a low glycemic index compared with a conventional healthy diet on polycystic ovary syndrome. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010;92(1):83-92. doi:
  7. Rock CL, Flatt SW, Bilge Pakiz, et al. Effects of diet composition on weight loss, metabolic factors and biomarkers in a 1-year weight loss intervention in obese women examined by baseline insulin resistance status. Metabolism-clinical and Experimental. 2016;65(11):1605-1613. doi:‌
  8. Luc Djoussé, J. Michael Gaziano, Buring JE, Lee I-Min. Dietary omega-3 fatty acids and fish consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2011;93(1):143-150. doi:
  9. Patten RK, Boyle RA, Trine Moholdt, et al. Exercise Interventions in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in Physiology. 2020;11. doi:
  10. Gutin I. In BMI we trust: reframing the body mass index as a measure of health. Social Theory and Health. 2017;16(3):256-271. doi:‌
  11. Santos I, Antônio F, Sabino V, et al. Effect of high-intensity interval training on metabolic parameters in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLOS ONE. 2021;16(1):e0245023-e0245023. doi:


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