PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is a hormonal disorder that causes small cysts on the outer edges of a woman’s ovaries. While the exact cause of PCOS is still unknown, there are certain genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors that increase the risk of polycystic ovaries. PCOS and weight gain are closely related as weight gain increases the risk of PCOS and similarly PCOS increases the risk of obesity. In many cases, weight loss can help to relieve the symptoms of PCOS such as menstrual and ovulation irregularity, low pregnancy rate, and insulin resistance.
Shweta Mehta is a Neulife and Adidas athlete and a fitness consultant who recently won the Jerai Women’s Physique Competition 2016. Here she walks us through the basics of an exercise routine and provides a structured PCOS workout plan for weight loss.
Guide to Weight Loss Diet When Suffering From PCOS
When buying a protein powder, the two terms you should look for are BCAA (Branch Chain Amino Acids) and EAA (Essential Amino Acids) – these are important amino acids that provide energy and prevent muscle breakdown during a workout.
The PCOS Weightloss Workout Plan
PCOS causes hormonal changes which can make weight loss a little tougher but as long as you stick to your routine, you will start to see results in a matter of weeks. Your workout plan should suit your fitness levels. Don’t try to push yourself too hard as this would only result in injury and it would derail your progress.
Beginners should start with a simple workout routine – just 30-45 mins is enough. Here’s a simple 6 day workout plan for beginners:
Start With A Nice Warm-up
Your warm-up should only be 60-70 % of your capacity as this will increase muscle flexibility without the risk of injury. The focus should not be on stretching as much as possible but rather on the amount of movement –this means more reps of any exercise but at a lower intensity. To warm up, start with neck and shoulder rotations and then arm, waist, and ankle rotations. You can also do hamstrings and quad stretches and walk for 5 mins.
Day-wise Workout Plan For Weight Loss And Lower Back Strength
Lower body exercises go a long way in helping with weight loss as our legs have a lot of muscle and so these exercises will result in more weight loss than upper body exercises. The important point to keep in mind is that the more calories you expend, the more fat you lose!
A typical weight loss routine for women with PCOS should also include a lot of lower back exercises as being overweight places a severe strain on your lower back and spine. Here’s a day-wise workout break-up:
Monday: Lower Body Training – legs
Tuesday: Upper Body Training – only arms and back
Wednesday: Lower Body Training – legs
Thursday: Upper Body Training – chest, shoulder, and a few lower back exercises
Friday: Cardio – treadmill, jogging in park (whatever suits you the most)
Saturday: You can indulge in a sport like badminton/tennis which is great for mental stimulation as well as some light cardio! Bonus point for it being fun, too!
Your cooldown is extremely important as it relaxes your muscles. Since your muscles are warmed up from your exercise routine, you can push yourself a little further in terms of the intensity of your cool down routine. This means that your cool down stretches should be 100 % of your capacity but have fewer reps.
Shweta’s Home Workout Plans For Weight Loss
If you have not exercised in over six months, the first week of your fitness plan should only include a warm, cool down and a short brisk walk. This will give your muscles the time they need to adjust and will minimize the risk of a muscle pull. After the first week, you can start on a regular and regimented fitness plan. You don’t need to enroll in a gym or hire a fitness trainer in order to lose weight. Here are 3 fitness plans that you can use to lose weight and get fit in the comfort and privacy of your home.
Don’t forget your warm-ups and cool downs at the beginning and end of these workouts!
Plan 1 –
4 sets 25 reps Jumping jacks
4 sets 10 reps Walking pushup
4 sets 15 reps Burpee (without pushup)
4 sets 10 reps Grasshoppers
4 sets 30 reps (each leg) Mountain climbers
Plan 2 –
4 sets 15 reps Free squats
4 sets 20 reps (10 each leg) walking lunges
4 sets 20 reps (10 each leg) squat and side kick
4 sets 20 reps (10 each leg) reverse lunges and kick
4sets 15 reps (10 each leg) step ups
Plan 3 –
4 sets 10 reps knee pushups
4 sets 10 reps dips (use chair or stool)
4 sets 15 reps Crunches
4 sets 15 reps In and out crunches
4 sets 20 reps Leg Raises
Weight training burns 43% more calories as compared to cardio
Weight Training Vs Cardio For PCOS
There are a lot of misconceptions regarding weight training for weight loss in women. However, weight training can be one of the most effective methods of weight loss. Here are 3 important points that you should keep in mind:
Weight training burns more calories than cardio
In an experiment conducted by researchers at Penn State, it was observed that dieters who included weight training in their fitness routine shed more fat than those who did only cardio exercises. Weight training burns 43% more calories as compared to cardio.
Weight training improves your body’s response to insulin
PCOS causes insulin resistance which in turn results in weight gain. Furthermore, higher levels of insulin will cause sugar and carb cravings. Strength training improves your body’s response to insulin and increases weight loss.
Weight training will not make you manly!
Contrary to popular belief, weight training will not make you gain bulky muscle but instead you will get toned and fit.
There are over 20 nutrients including vitamins and minerals that you require on a daily basis. It’s not really possible for us to calculate our daily intake for each nutrient and so taking a supplement is one of the simplest ways to ensure that you meet your nutritional requirements.
Those who are involved in high intensity workouts can opt for protein isolates in the form of protein powders or protein shakes. When buying a protein powder, the two terms you should look for are BCAA (Branch Chain Amino Acids) and EAA (Essential Amino Acids) – these are important amino acids that provide energy and prevent muscle breakdown during a workout.
Fish Oil Supplements:
Fish oil is another excellent option as it ensures that you meet your requirements for oil soluble vitamins without significantly increasing your calorie intake. There are several brands of supplements available and the one I use (Nutrovea) is among the best in the market today – it is completely safe and as effective as its counterparts in the US.
Make sure that you drink plenty of water throughout the day as this will help you stay hydrated and get rid of any excess nutrients.
On Making Time For Fitness
All of us are pressed for time and no one knows it better than Shweta. “I wake up in the morning, go for my training, then head to work as a senior software developer; after work, I have to head to the gym again before I get home. I live alone so I have to take care of my own meals and since I am in training for competitions, I can’t afford to sacrifice my diet or my fitness. I have followed this routine for 2 years so I know that it’s tough to balance work and fitness but it’s not impossible”.
Thank you, Shweta! You are a great inspiration.
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