Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder that affects millions of women worldwide, one that we help women manage through exercise and nutritional guidance too.
One of the most prevalent and distressing symptoms associated with PCOS is the accumulation of excess fat. This is often referred to as 'PCOS belly' as it forms around the abdominal region.
The PCOS belly shape can have negative effects on more than your physical health, but also your mental health. In this blog, we will explore the causes of PCOS belly and provide practical strategies for managing it effectively.
What Is PCOS Belly?
PCOS belly shape is the presence of excess abdominal fat, which can be both frustrating and challenging to manage.
It is not only a cosmetic concern; it's also associated with increased health risks. Risks that include insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hormonal imbalances.
PCOS belly shape varies among individuals but often presents as an increase in fat accumulation in the abdominal area, resulting in a round or apple-shaped appearance. Understanding the causes of PCOS belly is the first step toward effective management.
Causes of PCOS Belly
#1 Insulin Resistance
Many women with PCOS experience insulin resistance, which means their bodies struggle to use insulin efficiently. This leads to elevated insulin levels, promoting fat storage, especially in the abdominal area.
#2 Hormonal Imbalance
PCOS is characterised by elevated levels of androgen's, often referred to as male hormones. These hormonal imbalances can influence fat distribution, leading to abdominal obesity.
High levels of stress can exacerbate hormonal imbalances. Leading to emotional eating, making it even more challenging to control weight gain in the abdominal region.
Managing PCOS Belly: Practical Strategies
Managing PCOS belly requires a comprehensive approach that involves a balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management, and support from healthcare professionals and the likes of personal trainers and nutrition coaches for lifestyle help and management.
PCOS is a highly individualised condition, so what works for one person may not work for another. Patience and perseverance are key as you embark on your journey to a healthier you. Below are the strategies that may help you manage your condition.
Balanced Diet: A balanced diet is essential in managing PCOS belly. Focus on whole foods, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables rich in fibre, and whole grains. Minimise processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and added sugars. Working with a nutrition coach who specialises in PCOS can help provide guidance with your nutrition too.
Portion Control: Pay attention to portion sizes to avoid overeating. Using smaller plates and eating mindfully can help you recognise when you are full.
Low-Glycemic Index (GI) Foods: Opt for low-GI foods, which have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels. This can help regulate insulin and prevent blood sugar spikes that promote fat storage.
Regular Exercise: Incorporate a consistent exercise routine into your lifestyle. A variety of cardiovascular exercises, strength training, and flexibility exercises can help improve insulin sensitivity.
Stress Management: Reducing stress is crucial. Engage in stress-reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises. Lowering stress levels can help mitigate hormonal imbalances that contribute to the PCOS belly shape.
Hydration: Staying well-hydrated is vital for overall health. Drinking enough water can help control appetite and reduce the likelihood of overeating.
Supplements: Consult with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian before considering supplements. In some cases, supplements like inositol and omega-3 fatty acids may be recommended to support PCOS management. Check out our blog on supplements and how they can help you with your training.
Intermittent Fasting: Some women with PCOS have found success with intermittent fasting, but this can have a negative impact in some cases so consult with your doctor first.
Patience and Persistence: PCOS belly fat can be stubborn and may not disappear overnight. Be patient and stay committed to your healthy lifestyle changes, as gradual progress is still progress.
Set Realistic Goals: Instead of setting lofty weight loss goals, aim for achievable targets. Even a 5-10% reduction in body weight can have a significant impact on PCOS symptoms and belly fat.
The Effects of PCOS on mental health
PCOS can indeed affect women's mental health, the hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS can have a range of psychological and emotional effects.
You are not alone, many people suffer from depression, anxiety and body image issues due to PCOS. The PCOS belly shape specifically can be the root cause of some people's mental struggles with the condition.
The stress of managing PCOS, irregular periods, and fertility concerns can cause emotional distress, and the overall impact on one's quality of life can contribute to feelings of frustration and unhappiness. It is crucial to seek support and connect with PCOS groups as they can provide insights into other people's experiences with PCOS. It will help you find out how others have successfully managed or are currently dealing with the condition.
PCOS Belly Vs Non-PCOS Belly
Women without PCOS will have belly's that vary in size and shape depending on factors such as genetics, lifestyle, and overall health. There is no one-size-fits-all definition of what constitutes a "normal" woman's belly.
On the other hand, a belly affected by Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) may exhibit a specific pattern of fat distribution. This can often manifest as central or abdominal obesity, where excess fat accumulates, giving it a characteristic "PCOS belly" appearance. This pattern of fat distribution is associated with increased health risks.
This distinctive PCOS belly shape is often characterised by a fuller midsection, which can be challenging to manage due to hormonal imbalances. The hormonal influences in PCOS can lead to a redistribution of fat, with a higher tendency for it to be stored around the abdomen. The extent of PCOS belly shape can vary from person to person, and it may also be influenced by genetic factors, lifestyle choices, and the severity of the condition.
Before you go...
If you're concerned about your PCOS-related symptoms, including changes in belly shape, it's highly advisable to consult a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for personalised guidance and support.
At Infinity Performance, we have extensive experience working with individuals who have PCOS, providing us with valuable insights into the unique challenges this condition presents. Our ongoing work with clients has inspired our continuous efforts to expand our knowledge about PCOS. Reach out to us today to take the first steps in managing your PCOS symptoms with our assistance, offering tailored nutrition coaching and personal training sessions designed to meet your specific goals and needs.