What is Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?
PCOS is caused by an imbalance of the male & female sex hormones, and occurs when a hormone called Luteinizing hormone (LH) which triggers ovulation levels are too high, causing the ovaries to make excessive amounts of testosterone. In the first half of a ‘’normal’’ menstrual cycle testosterone is converted into estrogen which matures the follicle to prepare the egg for ovulation. In the case of PCOS, this process is disturbed by large amounts of LH secreted by the pituitary gland. High Levels of LH will cause a build-up of testosterone, inhibiting the conversion to estrogen; the egg does not mature properly, instead the egg sticks to the follicle creating a cyst/s hence the name Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome.
The pituitary gland picks up on the high testosterone levels in the ovaries and signals other parts of the body to slow production of testosterone. The body then tries to increase estrogen to combat this imbalance; converting testosterone found in fat stores into estrogen. This estrogen in turn may increase fat stores or make existing fat stores harder to shift.
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
PCOS can be such a debilitating condition particularly when it comes to making changes to your body composition. It’s crazy how your hormones play such a major role when it comes to weight loss and wellbeing, to effectively manage PCOS & change body composition there needs to be a lifestyle change with your nutrition, exercise, rest and supplementation.
PCOS, Nutrition and Insulin:
PCOS is heavily linked with Insulin Resistance; Insulin resistance occurs when the hormone Insulin cannot effectively shuttle glucose from the blood stream into your cells (carbohydrates consumed turn to ‘sugar’ within the body, this ‘sugar’ is known as glucose). Glucose must be moved from the blood into your muscle and fat cells so that your body can carry out basic functions that allow you to make changes to your body composition, ie weight loss.
With PCOS sufferers, Insulin cannot open the cells successfully, almost like a key trying to open up a door, and because the insulin isn’t doing its job properly the body produces more and more Insulin – leading to high levels of insulin in the blood. The ‘higher than normal’ levels of blood glucose cause the ovaries to over produce testosterone which will increase PCOS symptoms.
Insulin & Weight Loss
One of the most effective methods of lowering your Insulin levels allowing you to becoming more insulin sensitive is through your diet. Being Insulin sensitive means the body is highly effective at utilising blood sugar and it makes it much easier to manipulate your body composition. Consuming a low carbohydrate diet will help control glucose levels within the body. Low carbohydrate foods such as vegetables will not raise your insulin levels as high as foods that are high in sugar or complex carbohydrates such as bread, rice and pasta.
Timing your carbohydrates throughout the day is also a valuable tool when trying to lower your insulin levels.
Glucose stored in your muscle is called Glycogen, Glycogen is your body’s favourite type of fuel.
Consuming carbohydrates at the end of the day will help keep your glycogen levels low. These lower levels of glucose/glycogen will reduce the insulin response required by the body, so when you next have carbohydrates the body is more sensitive and ready to provide an insulin response.
It’s important to remember that dietary changes do not include following strict diets or cutting out certain foods. Instead, the goal is for you to learn behaviours that are sustainable for the long-term results.
PCOS and Exercise
Another effective way of lowering your glucose levels (to increase insulin sensitivity) and improving your PCOS symptoms is performing exercise. Exercise causes glucose to be moved from the blood and into your working muscles (glycogen) more effectively, lowering the need for insulin to be present. Performing fasted exercise will help deplete glycogen levels within the body; once your body has burnt through your glycogen stores it will then switch to burning fat as your primary source of fuel.
Completing a variation of resistance and cardio (HIIT) training, 4-5 times per week will work great to help increase insulin sensitivity, fat loss and boost your metabolism allowing you to burn more calories throughout the day and while you recover. Remembering that if you can manipulate your insulin levels, you are better able to manage your testosterone, the main culprit behind PCOS symptoms. However, if exercising 4-5 times per week seems too much or unattainable, don’t stress, any exercise is better than none.
PCOS and Cortisol
You may have read our recent blog on Cortisol, Cortisol is a hormone, like Insulin, also secreted by our Adrenal glands. Cortisol is a necessary hormone needed for daily functions, immune response and regulating your metabolism. However high levels of Cortisol released over a period of time due to internal or external stressors can have a detrimental effect on your body composition which includes weight gain, fatigue, muscle break down, digestion upset, insomnia and feelings of stress and anxiety, just to name a few!
PCOS sufferers endure such an internal battle plus the added stress of dealing with PCOS symptoms that can effective self-esteem and quality of life; this results in Cortisol rising to unhealthy levels. In women, your body will release enzymes that will try to detoxify excesses Cortisol and Testosterone from the body, however imagine two people tyring to get out of a door at once, its impossible. If your Cortisol levels are too high neither levels will decline, by lowering our stress levels, we will in turn help to lower our testosterone.
How to lower stress levels. > https://www.fatburnersonly.com.au/blog/stress-related-weight-gain-n63
PCOS and Supplementation
After you have made the nutrition, exercise and lifestyle changes recommend to improve PCOS symptoms,
there are supplements that can help assists with PCOS, addressing the cause and not just the symptoms.
From the ATP Science range, we recommend the below protocol as a natural and effective way to help overcome PCOS.
Alpha Venus – This helps to balance the Estrogen and Androgen Ratio to normal levels in the body to enable the correct conversion of Testosterone to Estrogen during the menstrual cycle, which will help to limit the cystic activity of the ovaries. Alpha Venus will also work to detoxify your body of any toxic estrogen dominance, helping to shift stubborn fat from estrogen prone areas like the abdomen, glutes, thighs and triceps.
We recommend taking 4 x capsules in the morning.
T432 Plus – This helps to balance insulin sensitivity, boosting your metabolism by promoting healthy thyroid conversion pathways and also contains a good source of Zinc which is great for the skin, an area often shown as an external representation of PCOS. Cystic Acne can be an external area often shown as an external representation of PCOS. We recommend taking 1 x capsule, 3 times daily with meals.
Multi-food – Helps to improve the detoxification pathways. In addition, it contains Zinc & Folate which may help to reduce the production of Di-Tydro Testosterone (DHT) which is often responsible for acne, hirsutism and head hair thinning experienced during PCOS. We recommend taking 3 x capsules in the morning.
Hormones are at the centre of wellbeing, women suffering from PCOS have a hormonal imbalance that their body can’t fight on its own. Nutrition, exercise, rest and supplementation are essential steps you can take to help your body rebuild and perform its natural functions. We completely understand that the above can be an information over load, to help we have summarised the above points…