PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects people with ovaries and can lead to numerous symptoms, like irregular periods, hair growth on your face or body, acne, weight gain, ovarian cysts, and infertility.
PCOS-related infertility, particularly in cases involving insulin resistance, is a challenge many women who are trying to conceive face today and is linked to:
Hormonal Imbalance: Insulin resistance is often associated with elevated insulin levels, leading to an imbalance in other hormones, such as increased androgens like testosterone, which can disrupt normal ovarian function and contribute to the development of cysts in the ovaries.
Ovulatory Dysfunction: Insulin resistance can affect the process of ovulation. The ovaries may produce eggs in PCOS, but irregular hormone levels can lead to anovulation (lack of ovulation) or irregular ovulation, which can significantly impact fertility, making it more challenging to conceive.
Impact on Egg Quality: Insulin resistance has been linked to poor egg quality in individuals with PCOS. High insulin levels can influence the maturation and development of eggs within the ovaries, potentially reducing the chances of a successful pregnancy.
Increased Risk of Gestational Diabetes: Insulin resistance is associated with a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy, especially in individuals with PCOS, which can complicate the fertility journey and pregnancy outcomes.
Weight Management Challenges: Insulin resistance is often associated with difficulty managing body weight. Excess weight, which is common in individuals with PCOS, can exacerbate insulin resistance and further contribute to fertility issues.
Now that you understand a little about PCOS, know there are strategies to support your fertility. The top recommendation for managing PCOS involves lifestyle modifications, and here are three transformational strategies:
The Winning Food Formula
First, become aware of the food you are eating and learn to make sure that your meals include the winning formula - fiber + protein. Regardless of your chosen diet, adding fiber from vegetables and including a protein source in each meal helps stabilize blood sugar levels and helps you feel satiated after a meal. This dynamic duo prevents hormonal spikes, curbs hunger, aids in weight management, and helps you feel calmer and more in control of your emotions.
Here are four ways to achieve this:
Create Colorful Salads: Prepare vibrant salads by combining a variety of colorful vegetables such as leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and carrots. Top your salad with protein sources such as grilled chicken, turkey, tofu, chickpeas, or beans. Add nuts or seeds for extra protein and crunch.
Power-Packed Breakfast: Incorporate veggies into your breakfast by adding spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, or bell peppers to omelets or scrambled eggs. Include a protein-rich element like eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or smoked salmon.
Healthy Stir-Fries: Prepare stir-fries with colorful vegetables like broccoli, snow peas, carrots, and bell peppers. Choose a lean protein source such as chicken, shrimp, tofu, or lean beef to stir-fry with the vegetables—season with flavorful herbs and spices.
Balanced Dinner Plates: Make vegetables central to your dinner plate - roast or steam veggies like brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, or asparagus. Serve a protein-rich main course, such as grilled fish, lean meat, or plant-based protein like lentils or quinoa.
Meal Prep: Plan and prep your meals in advance to ensure you have a variety of vegetables and protein options readily available.
Smoothies and Soups: Include vegetables and protein in smoothies by adding spinach, kale, avocado, protein powder, or Greek yogurt. Similarly, prepare hearty soups with plenty of vegetables and add protein sources like chicken or beans.
Snack Smartly: Snacking is an opportunity to include veggies and protein. For a nutritious snack, have veggie sticks with hummus, a handful of nuts, or a cheese and vegetable combo.
Get Fit using HIIT
HIIT - or High-Intensity Interval Training - involves alternating short bursts of intense exercise with periods of rest or lower-intensity activity. and has been shown to offer specific benefits for those dealing with insulin resistance.
By engaging in HIIT, you stimulate your body's response to insulin, helping it become more efficient in using glucose, which, over time, may contribute to better blood sugar regulation.
Whether you opt for a 20-minute HIIT session or the three rounds of the Scientific 7-Minute Workout, find an exercise routine that suits your fitness level and preferences. Consistency is crucial, so aim for at least three times a week.
Additionally, a simple 10-minute walk in your routine can complement the effects of HIIT. Walking offers so many health benefits, including assisting in stabilizing blood sugar levels, especially after a meal. For those with PCOS who are trying to conceive, the combined effects of HIIT and regular walks can be a powerful duo in addressing insulin resistance and supporting a healthier metabolism.
Step 3: Sip Smart
Optimal hydration is a critical component in managing insulin-resistant PCOS, particularly for women on the path to conception. Adequate hydration enables your body to eliminate excess sugar through urine to support regulated blood sugar levels.
Adequate hydration involves drinking enough water and ensuring mineral content. A personalized approach for hydration could look like drinking half of your body weight in ounces, so if you weigh 150 lbs, aim for 75oz of water. You could also monitor your urine's color, ensuring it's pale yellow, indicating proper hydration.
Electrolyte balance emphasizes that hydration goes beyond water consumption. Essential electrolytes are minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and sodium, which support hormonal health, egg health, and fertility.
You may need more electrolytes if you notice that you have to use the bathroom pretty soon after drinking. Consider adding sugar-free electrolytes or a pinch of Celtic sea salt to your water to counteract electrolyte loss and prevent symptoms such as fatigue or headaches associated with inadequate hydration.
Optimal health is multifaceted, and blood sugar regulation is the key. Incorporating these strategies into your daily routine provides a practical and actionable approach to managing insulin-resistant PCOS, aligning with your fertility journey and overall well-being.