This post was updated on December 20th, 2021
Forget what your doctor told you.
You DON’T need to go on a diet that restricts your calories.
If you want to lose weight and keep it off for good then one of the WORST things you can do is to start another diet.
Every time I run my free live 30 Day PCOS Diet Challenge it never ceases to amaze me how many women have been misled into making this super common mistake. Weight loss for most people begins as soon as they start implementing the nutritional strategies I describe below, with some women dropping 20 lb by the end of the month.
The truth about weight loss when you suffer from PCOS is that you probably need to start eating MORE…
Counting calories doesn’t work for women with PCOS
Weight loss is particularly difficult for women with PCOS as one of the features of this disorder is that it makes you gain weight faster and easier than other people do (Teede et al. 2010).
While it’s totally normal to try to lose weight by reducing your food intake and counting calories, the depressing reality is that most people can’t sustain a restriction diet over the long term.
It’s one thing to lose weight when you’re motivated and on a diet, but self-control and willpower can only take you so far. Being “on a diet” means you inevitably get off it at some point and that’s when the frustration kicks in. It’s normal to feel your spirits wane as your hard lost pounds begin slowly returning like the incoming tide you just can’t stop.
A famous review of weight loss studies found that one third to two thirds of dieters regained more weight after they finished their diet than what they lost while on it. And this is understood to be an underestimate of the real numbers (Mann et. al 2007).
I can think of few other bad ideas that have persisted in our popular health culture longer than the concept of restriction dieting.
The belief that the only way to lose weight is to limit how many calories you eat has funded an entire weight loss industry and turned many well intentioned people into failed professional dieters. If you have ever struggled to keep the extra pounds at bay despite trying everything then I’m sure you’ll know what I mean.
How to lose weight with PCOS without going on a diet
If you’re open to new ways to lose weight and overcome the other unpleasant effects of PCOS then reach for the butter, but toss out the bread.
More and more studies are now showing that by changing to a better ratio of dietary fat, protein, and carbohydrates, you can lose weight without reducing the total number of calories you eat.
One of my favorite examples is a study that put a group of women with PCOS on a high fat, low carb diet without restricting how much they ate. After 8 weeks they lost a lot of body fat with most of it coming off their stomach, and thighs (Goss et. al 2014).
Who wouldn’t mind that?
This new way of eating is exactly what I teach people to do during my free live 30 Day PCOS Diet Challenge. When trying to lose weight, you should never feel extreme hunger and by eating enough fat and protein you can experience a healthy fullness while the pounds fall off.
The best diet for PCOS
Here are a few simple ideas for making your diet more PCOS friendly:
Start by eating less sugar and refined carbohydrates. Then figure out your food intolerances and get them out of your diet entirely. This is the ONLY type of restriction dieting that I approve of.
Eat more fat from wholefood sources as fat does not make you fat. The truth is that certain fats actually make you thin.
Enjoy plenty of fish, meat and eggs as this is the most reliable way to ensure you are adequately nourished, and get in the habit of eating 2 cups of non-starchy vegetables with every meal. Cover them in butter or olive oil and I guarantee you will lose weight.
And if you do feel the need for a sweet treat now and then make sure to use fructose free sweeteners and include plenty of fat and protein with it to lower the glycemic load like I do in my Beat PCOS Dessert Cookbook recipes.
There actually IS a way to lose weight and stay that way over the long term without having to starve yourself.
It is totally possible to lose weight for good with PCOS
Scientifically speaking, there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about the nutritional principles that help women to lose weight and beat PCOS. What you may find interesting however is how easy it can be when you apply these principles in a fun and supportive environment.
Take for example a woman named April who I had the pleasure of working with in 2016. After being frustrated by every prior attempt to lose weight she dropped 21 pounds during the 30 Day PCOS Diet Challenge, and was 60 pounds lighter 8 months later after participating in my 10 Week Program.
If you are done with yo-yo weight loss programs and are ready to lose weight without dieting then I warmly invite you to join me and my amazing community of like-minded women for my next free live 30 Day PCOS Diet Challenge.
May your weight loss success story begin today.
Since 2010, Kym Campbell has used evidence-based diet and lifestyle interventions to manage her PCOS. After getting her symptoms under control and falling pregnant naturally, Kym now advocates for dietary change as part of any PCOS treatment plan. Combining rigorous science and clinical advice with a pragmatic approach to habit change, Kym is on a mission to show other women how to take back control of their health and fertility. Read more about Kym and her team here.
Quick Disclosure: Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links. This means that when you use them to purchase something, it won't cost you more but I may get paid a commission for referring you. In order to avoid any prejudice, I only recommend products that I personally use or would have recommended anyways.