9 Ways to Reduce Insulin Resistance with PCOS

You can’t talk about PCOS without talking about blood sugars.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a complex hormonal, metabolic and reproductive disorder that affects up to 15% of women. One of the core issues that women with PCOS face is insulin resistance. In order to reverse your symptoms, you need to have balanced hormones.

The hormone insulin plays a major role in that. High insulin levels lead to higher levels of androgens or male hormones. Higher levels of androgen testosterone can impact fertility, weight, skin issues like acne, and cause excess hair growth as well as hair loss.

To help restore hormonal balance you want to stabilize your blood sugar levels. The good news is that there are a variety of ways in which you can lower your blood sugar naturally.

Here are 9 easy things that you can start implementing into your daily routine.

1. Cut Down On Carbs

There definitely are foods to avoid with PCOS. No one wants to hear this one but cutting certain carbs can have a great impact. Notice I highlighted the word certain. You don’t have to cut out everything, that would be unhealthy. The body needs some carbs in order to function properly.

What type of carbs are we talking about? Think of ones that don’t offer a lot of nutritional value, ones that are empty calories. The type that is heavily processed and refined. When you do eat carbs, be smart about it. Choose one that are from real foods like sweet potatoes and brown rice. These are referred to as complex carbs. Also, watch your portion sizes. This will have a significant impact when you eat them.

2. Eat Nuts

Nuts are phenomenal for your health. They are high in protein and most are low in carbs. Nuts offer a host of benefits including:

  • May lower cholesterol

  • They contain mono and polyunsaturated fats which aid heart health

  • Rich in arginine which may improve blood vessel function

  • They may help lower cardiovascular risk

  • Reduces your risk of developing blood clots

  • Can improve the health of the lining of your arteries

Nuts are digested slowly so they won’t cause insulin spikes. They are a great snack to have on hand. They are extremely portable which makes life a little easier. The best nuts are:

  • Almonds

  • Walnuts

  • Pistachios

  • Brazil nuts

  • Macadamia

  • Pecans

  • Hazelnuts

  • Pine nuts

  • Baruka Nuts

*Be careful with cashews, they are higher than other nuts in carbs. Peanuts are an okay choice but they are known to cause inflammation in the body so you might not want to eat them too frequently.

3. Start Walking

Walking is one of the best forms of exercises you can do to help lower blood sugar levels. The great thing about walking is you can do it anywhere, anytime and it is free. It is very effective for women who struggle with insulin resistance and weight. Plus, walking helps to lower blood pressure and relieve stress levels. Most doctors will recommend that you walk for about 30 minutes per day five times a week. The critical thing is to keep your heart rate up for that time.

4. Avoid Seconds

Sounds like such a simple concept, but how many people actually follow it? Portion out your meals and stick to it. Going back for seconds adds more calories and carbs. Not sure how to portion correctly? Then invest in a kitchen scale. They are easy to use and super affordable and they leave the guessing out. I use mine all the time. It has been a lifesaver especially when I was just starting out and learning about proper portion sizes.

Most people have no idea how much damage they are doing by going back for second helpings. This can completely derail your blood sugar levels and weight loss efforts.

5. Skip The Juice

A lot of people think that juice is healthy and a smart choice. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Companies market juice as being healthy and worse of all they market it as being beneficial for young kids. But would you feed your kids spoons full of sugar?? That is essentially what juice is. The reality is that fruit juice has just as much sugar and carbs as soda. GASP!! And we all know how bad soda is for our bodies and health. If you want to be able to control your blood sugar levels, you need to kiss the juices good-bye.

Looking for alternatives to juice? Try some of these replacements that won’t spike your blood sugar. Seltzer is one of my favorites. It has zero calories and no sugar. You get a hint of flavor without sabotaging your health. A cup of tea is another winner. You can add some lemon or stevia to sweeten it if you don’t like the taste of it straight-up. Water infused with fruit or herbs is another fantastic choice. Try a mixture of cucumber and mint or some fresh berries like raspberries. Before you know it, you will have kicked your bad habit to the curb!

6. Learn to Read Labels

Do you know how to read a food label? Deciphering it isn’t as easy as you think. You need to understand the whole picture of a healthy diet to understand how foods impact your health. When reading a nutrition label, individuals with insulin resistance, prediabetes, or diabetes need to focus on the serving size, the amount of carbohydrates, and the amount of fiber.

Why are these three things important?

Carbohydrates are what turns into sugar and makes your blood sugar levels rise. On the other hand, fiber does not affect your blood sugar levels and helps you to feel full. To bring it all together, you need to understand what a serving size is so you can determine how many carbs you have consumed and how that will affect your blood sugar levels.

Be careful to make note of the servings before you start munching away, a lot of times the servings will be deceptive. Cereal is a good example of this. A common serving size for cereal is ¾ cup. Go ahead and measure this out. You will probably laugh at how pathetic it is and let me tell you ¾ c will not fill you up. This is not usually how much people eat. If you aren’t paying attention you could be devouring a lot more carbs then you intend to.

7. Bulk Up The Fiber

Fiber offers a host of benefits including preventing constipation by keeping bowel movements regular and providing you with a feeling of fullness which stops you from overindulging. To determine how much of the food will be converted into sugar and affect your blood sugar levels, you can subtract the amount of fiber from the number of carbs. This calculation refers to net carbs.

But don’t be fooled. Just because something is considered high-fiber doesn’t mean it is “good for you”. Products can contain a high number of fiber and still contain a large number of carbs. Cereal is a prime example. Some examples of foods that are great sources of fiber are:

  • Nuts

  • Flaxseed meal

  • Spinach

  • Broccoli

  • Avocados

  • Blackberries

  • Asparagus

  • Celery

  • Mushrooms

  • Raspberries

8. The Order In Which You Eat, Matters!

Yes, the order in how you eat plays a role in how quickly your body will break down the carbs into sugar. If you can, in some instances it won’t really apply or work out, eat your proteins, fats, and non-starchy vegetables first. This study found that saving your carbs for last helps with blood sugar spikes. The results found that people who consumed their carbs last had blood glucose levels that were about half as high compared to if they ate carbs first and about 40% lower than when they ate all meal components together. That is pretty significant findings! Eat your carbs last!

9. Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is when your body is allowed to rest for a certain period of time. You do not eat or drink anything (besides water). There are different variations of intermittent fasting. The most common type involves fasting while you sleep. The body can repair itself during rest and sleep. Just as we weren’t built to go 24/7, either is our body. Rest is vital for optimal health.

Allowing the pancreas to rest helps insulin receptors heal. The pancreas is responsible for pumping out insulin. If you constantly eat high-carb foods and sugars, the pancreas will eventually wear out and won’t be able to produce enough insulin. That’s when the trouble begins, and you will become diabetic.

To avoid wearing out your pancreas and increasing your insulin resistance it is wise to do intermittent fasting. Everyone can benefit from intermittent fasting, but it is especially beneficial for women with PCOS and insulin resistance.


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