Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and Weight Gain: What You Should Know

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and Weight Gain: What You Should Know

Published: 05:38AM 10 July 2023

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Jayti Shah

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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects many women worldwide. It is characterized by hormonal imbalances, irregular menstrual cycles, and the presence of small cysts on the ovaries. One common symptom of PCOS is weight gain or difficulty in losing weight. Understanding the relationship between PCOS and weight gain is essential for women with this condition. In this article, we will explore the scientific research surrounding PCOS and weight gain, discuss the underlying factors, and provide practical tips for managing weight effectively.

The Link Between PCOS and Weight Gain

1.Insulin Resistance: Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Women with PCOS often experience insulin resistance, a condition where the body's cells become less responsive to insulin. Insulin resistance can lead to elevated insulin levels, which promote fat storage and make weight management challenging.

2. Hormonal Imbalances: PCOS is associated with imbalances in hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and androgens (e.g., testosterone). These imbalances can affect metabolism, leading to weight gain and difficulty in losing weight.

3. Increased Appetite and Cravings: Women with PCOS may have an increased appetite and experience cravings, particularly for high-calorie, sugary foods. These factors can contribute to weight gain and make it more challenging to maintain a healthy diet.

Strategies for Managing Weight with PCOS

1.Balanced Diet:

  • Focus on whole foods: Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your diet. These foods provide essential nutrients while promoting satiety and managing blood sugar levels.
  • Limit processed foods: Processed foods are often high in added sugars, unhealthy fats, and empty calories. Minimize the consumption of sugary snacks, refined grains, and fast food.
  • Choose low-glycemic index foods: Low-glycemic index foods, such as whole grains, legumes, and non-starchy vegetables, have a lesser impact on blood sugar levels. They can help stabilize insulin levels and support weight management.

2. Regular Physical Activity:

  • Engage in aerobic exercises: Activities like brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or dancing can help burn calories, improve insulin sensitivity, and support weight loss efforts.
  • Incorporate strength training: Strength training exercises, including weightlifting or bodyweight exercises, help build lean muscle mass. This can boost metabolism and aid in weight management.

3. Portion Control and Mindful Eating:

  • Practice portion control: Be mindful of serving sizes to prevent overeating. Use smaller plates, measure portions, and pay attention to hunger and fullness cues.
  • Eat mindfully: Slow down and savor your meals. Pay attention to the taste, texture, and satisfaction of each bite. This can help you become more aware of your body's signals of hunger and fullness.

4. Manage Stress:

  • Chronic stress can contribute to weight gain and hinder weight loss efforts: Incorporate stress management techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in activities you enjoy.
  • Get enough sleep: Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. Sufficient sleep supports hormone regulation and overall well-being.

5. Seek Professional Support:

  • Consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian: They can provide personalized guidance and support in managing PCOS and weight. They can help create a customized meal plan and offer strategies to address specific challenges related to PCOS and weight management.


PCOS and weight gain often go hand in hand due to factors such as insulin resistance, hormonal imbalances, and increased appetite. However, with the right strategies, it is possible to manage weight effectively. By adopting a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, practicing portion control and mindful eating, managing stress, and seeking professional support, women with PCOS can achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Remember that each individual's experience with PCOS is unique, and it's important to consult with healthcare professionals for personalized advice and guidance.

Jayti Shah is a Clinical Nutritionist with a master's degree in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association (IDA). Over the last 9 years, she has helped 400 clients in their clinical and weight loss journeys. She works with SocialBoat as a nutrition consultant.

At SocialBoat, we offer custom diet plans and guided workouts to help you achieve your goals in a 360-degree approach. Our gamified experience ensures that you don’t find workouts boring and we reward you for being consistent with your efforts.

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  2. Pasquali R, Gambineri A. Polycystic ovary syndrome: A multifaceted disease from adolescence to adult age. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2016;1392(1):22-33.
  3. Legro RS, Arslanian SA, Ehrmann DA, et al. Diagnosis and treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome: An Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013;98(12):4565-4592.
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  5. Thomson RL, Buckley JD, Noakes M, Clifton PM, Norman RJ, Brinkworth GD. The effect of a hypocaloric diet with and without exercise training on body composition, cardiometabolic risk profile, and reproductive function in overweight and obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008;93(9):3373-3380.
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