Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. It is characterized by a range of symptoms such as irregular periods, acne, hair loss, and weight gain. However, in some cases, women with PCOS may also experience the opposite problem: being underweight. This can pose several challenges, including difficulty in conceiving, nutrient deficiencies, and weakened immune function. In this blog post, we will discuss the best foods that can help underweight women with PCOS to manage their condition.
Why Does PCOS Cause Underweight?
PCOS is often associated with weight gain due to the hormonal imbalances that occur in the body. However, some women with PCOS may also experience unintended weight loss or difficulty in gaining weight. This can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- High levels of androgens: Elevated levels of androgens, such as testosterone, can increase metabolic rate and cause weight loss.
- Insulin resistance: Women with PCOS are more likely to develop insulin resistance, which can interfere with the body's ability to store and use glucose for energy. This can lead to unintended weight loss.
- Chronic inflammation: PCOS is often associated with chronic inflammation, which can cause a range of health problems, including weight loss.
Best Foods for Underweight Women with PCOS
If you are underweight and have PCOS, it is important to focus on foods that provide adequate calories and nutrients to support healthy weight gain. Here are some of the best foods that can help:
- Complex carbohydrates: Complex carbohydrates are an important source of energy and can help support healthy weight gain. They are also important for regulating blood sugar levels and reducing insulin resistance, which can be beneficial for women with PCOS. Some examples of complex carbohydrates include brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes, and oats.
- Lean proteins: Lean proteins are essential for building and repairing muscle tissue, which is important for healthy weight gain. They are also important for regulating blood sugar levels and reducing insulin resistance. Good sources of lean protein include chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, beans, and lentils.
- Healthy fats: Healthy fats are a rich source of calories and can help support healthy weight gain. They are also important for reducing inflammation and improving immune function. Good sources of healthy fats include avocados, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish like salmon and tuna.
- Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are important sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which can support overall health and wellbeing. They are also relatively low in calories, which makes them a good choice for underweight women with PCOS who need to gain weight. Some good options include leafy greens, berries, oranges, bananas, and mangoes.
- Dairy products: Dairy products are an important source of calcium, which is essential for healthy bones and teeth. They are also a rich source of protein and calories, making them a good choice for underweight women with PCOS. Some good options include milk, cheese, and yogurt.
Foods to Avoid
In addition to focusing on the best foods for underweight women with PCOS, it is also important to avoid foods that can worsen symptoms and interfere with healthy weight gain. Some of the foods to avoid include:
- Processed and refined foods: Processed and refined foods are often high in sugar, unhealthy fats, and empty calories, which can contribute to inflammation, insulin resistance, and unintended weight loss. Examples include white bread, pasta, and sugary snacks and drinks.
- Trans fats: Trans fats are a type of unhealthy fat that can increase inflammation and interfere with healthy weight gain. They are often found in processed foods, fried foods.
- Alcohol: Alcohol can interfere with healthy weight gain by suppressing appetite and reducing nutrient absorption. It can also contribute to inflammation and insulin resistance, which can worsen PCOS symptoms.
- Caffeine: Caffeine can interfere with nutrient absorption and reduce appetite, which can make it difficult to consume enough calories to support healthy weight gain. It can also contribute to inflammation and worsen PCOS symptoms.
If you are underweight and have PCOS, it is important to focus on consuming a healthy, balanced diet that provides enough calories and nutrients to support healthy weight gain. Incorporating complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables, and dairy products can help ensure that your body is getting the nutrients it needs to function optimally.
Additionally, avoiding processed and refined foods, trans fats, alcohol, and caffeine can help prevent inflammation, insulin resistance, and unintended weight loss. Working with a registered dietitian or healthcare professional can also be helpful in developing a personalized meal plan that meets your individual needs and goals.
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.