Stop the Yo-Yo! Diets Behind Weight Cycling Negatively Impacts PCOS

Have PCOS? You can make peace with food too. Let's navigate this.
Have PCOS? You can make peace with food too. Let’s navigate this.

This week’s blog is doing cartwheels around the possibility of PCOS and food peace. This is the third of five posts. I hope you find this information invigorating and revolutionary. If you have PCOS, please know you don’t have to punish yourself anymore. You can find health without diets!

Weight loss, Weight Regain Hurts Health

PCOS weight loss often includes drastic measures that are impossible for 95% of the population to continue. Because of our human physiology, weight loss is followed by a period of rapid eating and weight regain. Have you ever lost weight only to regain more? I have heard many women with PCOS describe losing 50 to 100 pounds only to regain 100 to 150 more within the next few years.

If this is your history: it isn’t your fault.

On behalf of medical and health science, I apologize that we gave you the wrong solutions. We don’t have many good ones yet, regretfully. We do know that continuing the weight loss weight regain cycle will only make you sicker.

Because weight regain is the rule not the exception, weight cycling studies–the research word for yo-yo dieting–come in handy. Weight cycling studies suggest this process ends up making a body with more inflammation and higher insulin levels 1, 2, 3, 4. Remember, PCOS already includes astronomically high insulin levels. Why contribute to this?

Even more, the higher insulin levels rise, the more intense the carb cravings. When I say craving, I don’t mean a lurking thought. I mean an experience where every cell in your body screams: EAT CARBS AND EAT THEM NOW! Carb restricting may seem like a good idea yet please reconsider. We have neuropeptides that release messages to cells when carb or calorie intake is low or perceived to be low that further enhances this screaming. Carb abstinence only enhances binges. This hurts in 3 ways:

  • Further increases insulin levels from high carb binges
  • Places the woman at higher risk for eating disorder pathology
  • Contributes to weight cycling insulin and inflammation increases

If you have PCOS and want to lower insulin levels, do not diet. Don’t even think about it.