How Does Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Affect Weight Gain? Understanding and Taking Action

How Does Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Affect Weight Gain? Understanding and Taking Action

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a complex hormonal condition that affects many women of reproductive age. In addition to well-known symptoms such as menstrual irregularities and fertility issues, PCOS is also often associated with weight gain. This correlation between PCOS and weight is the result of hormonal imbalances that can make weight loss particularly challenging for many affected women.

Understanding the Links between PCOS and Weight Gain

To understand why PCOS can lead to weight gain, it's essential to delve into the underlying mechanisms of this condition. PCOS is characterized by excessive production of hormones, including testosterone, by the ovaries. This hyperandrogenism can result in a variety of symptoms, indirectly contributing to weight gain, particularly in the abdominal area. Indeed, androgens can affect the distribution of body fat, often promoting an accumulation of fat in the abdominal region. This distribution of abdominal fat is associated with an increased risk of health problems such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Androgens can also influence hunger and satiety signals, leading to increased appetite and a tendency to overeat, thus contributing to weight gain. Additionally, hormonal imbalances can disrupt metabolism, influencing how the body uses calories and stores fat. This can make weight loss more difficult and promote fat accumulation.

In addition to the direct effect of hormones, PCOS can also cause chronic inflammation as a result of insulin resistance, which can further exacerbate insulin resistance. This insulin resistance can lead to increased insulin production, promoting fat storage and making weight loss even more challenging.

The hormones that are actors in my weight gain

  • Cortisol / Stress

Why does stress lead to weight gain?

Weight gain during periods of stress cannot always be solely attributed to excessive or inadequate eating. Other factors subtly come into play and also contribute to this phenomenon. Among these, digestive system disorders and excess cortisol in the body play a role. But how do these elements affect our weight?

Excess cortisol and its effects on weight:

Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, plays a crucial role in fat metabolism. In addition to regulating blood pressure, it releases glucose by tapping into our body's reserves to respond to emergency situations. However, chronic stress can lead to excessive circulation of cortisol. When the body is subjected to constant stress over an extended period, cortisol levels can become excessive, and its prolonged increase can have harmful effects.

Among these effects are:

  • Diabetes: Cortisol can increase insulin resistance and alter blood glucose regulation, which can promote the development of type 2 diabetes.
  • High blood pressure: Cortisol can also lead to an increase in blood pressure by promoting sodium and water retention in the body, as well as affecting blood vessel function.
  • Weight gain, especially in the abdominal region: Cortisol can promote fat storage, particularly around the abdomen, which can increase the risk of developing obesity and associated health problems such as cardiovascular diseases and metabolic syndrome.

Digestive disorders:

Weight gain related to stress is often associated with uncontrollable cravings and a tendency to overeat to compensate for emotional emptiness. This can lead to digestive disorders such as spasms or bloating, which usually dissipate after digestion. However, recent research has shown that fluctuations in the composition of gut flora, as well as a lack of microbial diversity, could contribute in the long term to excess weight. Thus, stress can disrupt our gut flora, which could influence our body weight.

Risks associated with stress-related weight gain:

In addition to the aesthetic implications of being overweight, it is important to consider the adverse health consequences. Excess weight is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, arrhythmias, and heart attacks.

Practical solutions for managing stress and weight:

Rather than allowing stress to lead to unwanted weight gain, it is possible to adopt practical and effective long-term strategies. By following these three simple tips, it is possible to control your weight while promoting a sense of well-being and serenity.

How to manage stress?

Enhance your well-being by regularly engaging in physical activity, which is ideal for reducing stress and controlling your weight. Exercise releases endorphins, reduces fat mass, and helps you release daily tensions. Yoga, in particular, offers a holistic approach to stress management by harmonizing body and mind. To complement your stress management approach, consider solutions such as Ino'stress, a dietary supplement based on adaptogenic herbs to balance your body and improve your sleep. By integrating these practices and products into your routine, you will optimize your mental and physical health.



  • Inflammation

Insulin Resistance and Inflammation are closely linked due to several biological mechanisms. Insulin resistance affects more than 72% of women with PCOS. Here are some explanations on the relationship between these two processes:

  • Activation of inflammatory signaling pathways: Insulin resistance can lead to the activation of inflammatory signaling pathways at the cellular level. Insulin normally acts by binding to specific receptors on the surface of cells, triggering reactions that allow glucose absorption. However, when cells become insulin resistant, these signaling pathways are disrupted, which can lead to increased activation of inflammatory pathways.
  • Secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines: Insulin-resistant tissues, such as adipose tissue, can secrete pro-inflammatory cytokines.
  • Activation of the NF-κB pathway: Insulin resistance can also lead to activation of the NF-κB signaling pathway (nuclear factor kappa B), which is a major regulator of inflammation. NF-κB activation leads to the expression of genes involved in the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, thus amplifying the inflammatory response.
  • Connections with obesity and metabolic syndrome: Insulin resistance is often associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome, which are also characterized by chronic low-level inflammation. Adipocytes (fat cells) in the adipose tissue of obese individuals can produce inflammatory cytokines, creating an inflammatory environment conducive to insulin resistance.

Inflammation itself can also play a significant role in weight gain and obesity. Here's how it can happen:

Hormonal dysfunction: Inflammation can disrupt the body's hormonal balance, including increasing the production of certain hormones involved in appetite and metabolism regulation, such as leptin and adiponectin. Disruption of these hormones can lead to increased appetite and decreased energy expenditure, thus promoting weight gain. Depending on the dietary choices we make behind this, it can increase insulin resistance. It's a snowball effect.

Visceral fat storage: Inflammation can promote the storage of visceral fat, which is fat accumulated around internal organs. This fat is particularly associated with an increased risk of metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Influence on the gut microbiota: Inflammation can also affect the balance of the gut microbiota, the community of microorganisms residing in the intestine. Imbalance of the gut microbiota, called dysbiosis, can contribute to inflammation and weight gain by altering how foods are digested and absorbed, as well as affecting fat metabolism.

  • Hyperinsulinemia/Insulin Resistance

Insulin Resistance and Weight Gain

Insulin resistance is a complex and widespread health issue that can hinder weight loss efforts. When cells become less sensitive to insulin, a key hormone involved in carbohydrate and fat metabolism, the body struggles to effectively regulate blood sugar and use glucose as an energy source. This can lead to increased body fat accumulation, especially around the abdominal region.

  • When insulin resistance sets in, several adverse consequences manifest:
  • Body inflammation is triggered.
  • Difficulty in losing fat increases.
  • Sports performance declines.
  • Muscle mass gain becomes more difficult.
  • Sleep quality decreases.
  • Recovery capacity after training is impaired.
  • Insulin resistance signals a pre-diabetic state.
Weight Gain with Insulin Resistance

Weight gain may seem like a daunting challenge for those struggling with insulin resistance, as traditional diets focused solely on calorie restriction may not provide the desired results. When cells become less sensitive to insulin, the body struggles to effectively regulate blood sugar and use glucose as an energy source. As a result, glucose circulating in the blood may be stored as fat, mainly in the abdominal region.

Insulin resistance can also lead to increased appetite and cravings, especially for carbohydrate-rich and sugary foods, making weight loss even more difficult. Additionally, blood sugar fluctuations associated with insulin resistance can lead to unstable energy levels, which can compromise motivation for exercise and physical activity, thus contributing to a vicious cycle of weight gain.

Managing Insulin Resistance for Better Health

Insulin resistance is often associated with other health issues, such as metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular diseases, further underscoring the importance of addressing this issue holistically. By understanding the underlying mechanisms of insulin resistance and adopting a comprehensive approach to weight management, it is possible to overcome these challenges and regain optimal health.

A Holistic Approach to Weight Loss

The solution lies in a holistic approach, focusing on food quality, physical activity, and stress management. By adopting a diet rich in whole foods, fiber, and protein, and limiting refined sugars and processed carbohydrates, it is possible to reduce insulin resistance and promote weight loss. Additionally, incorporating regular exercise, including strength training sessions to improve insulin sensitivity, can be extremely beneficial. Finally, quality sleep and stress management techniques can help reduce cortisol levels, a stress-related hormone that can worsen insulin resistance.

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Specific Solutions for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

In the context of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), it's also crucial to consider specific solutions. Glycemic Index Boost is a dietary supplement that helps regulate blood sugar levels, thus helping to mitigate the effects of insulin resistance. With Glycemic Index Boost, say goodbye to the rollercoaster of blood sugar levels! By incorporating targeted solutions like this, it becomes possible to effectively manage insulin resistance and promote better overall health.

What dietary supplements should be taken for insulin resistance?

Certain dietary supplements can be beneficial in supporting metabolic health and helping to reduce insulin resistance. Here are some of the most studied supplements in this regard:

Chromium: Chromium is a mineral that plays an important role in carbohydrate metabolism. Studies have shown that chromium supplementation can improve insulin sensitivity in people with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes.

Magnesium: Magnesium is involved in many metabolic processes, including carbohydrate metabolism and the regulation of insulin sensitivity. Studies have suggested that magnesium supplementation can improve insulin sensitivity in people with insulin resistance. 

Magnesia Complex is a dietary supplement based on magnesium. It has been designed by our specialized naturopath to help you manage your stress naturally Magnesia supplement

Berberine, found in certain plants, has shown beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity - Glycemic index boost supplement

Alpha-lipoic Acid: Alpha-lipoic acid is a natural antioxidant that can help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation. It has been shown to enhance glucose management in people with type 2 diabetes and may also be beneficial for those with insulin resistance. - Olympia supplement

  • Cinnamon: Cinnamon contains bioactive compounds that can help improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that taking cinnamon supplements can be beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. - Glycemic index boost supplement
  • Omega-3: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish like salmon and fish oil supplements, have anti-inflammatory effects and can help improve insulin sensitivity. They may also be beneficial for cardiovascular health.
Leptin Resistance

What is leptin?

Leptin, often called the satiety hormone or hunger hormone, is an anorexigenic hormone that plays a crucial role in appetite regulation. Naturally produced by the body's fat tissue, it regulates hunger sensations and food intake. In other words, it determines if you feel the urge to eat or if you should stop feeding. Released about 15 minutes after the start of a meal, leptin sends a signal to the brain indicating that it's time to stop eating.

What is leptin resistance?

Despite its crucial role, sometimes individuals develop resistance to leptin, similar to insulin. This phenomenon can disrupt the communication between leptin and the brain, making individuals insensitive to satiety signals. As a result, even in the presence of a high amount of leptin in the body, the brain fails to recognize the feeling of fullness, which can lead to eating disorders and weight gain.

How to increase your leptin levels?

To promote adequate leptin production and maintain a healthy weight, it's important to adopt certain strategies. First, including fiber-rich foods in your diet can help increase leptin levels in the blood. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains are excellent sources of fiber. Moreover, it's crucial to limit the consumption of processed foods and simple sugars, which can contribute to leptin insensitivity. Regular physical activity, good sleep, and avoiding extreme diets are also key elements to maintaining a good hormonal balance and promoting optimal leptin sensitivity.


Regarding supplements, there is no specific supplement recommended for reducing leptin resistance. However, certain supplements can support a healthy lifestyle and promote weight loss, which may indirectly improve leptin sensitivity. These supplements may include:

  • Omega-3: Omega-3 fatty acid supplements, such as fish oil, can have anti-inflammatory effects and promote weight loss. Probiotics: Certain probiotics can promote gut health and contribute to weight management. Vitamins and minerals: Adequate levels of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D and magnesium, are important for metabolic health
  • Probiotics: Certain probiotics can support gut health and contribute to weight management. Vitamins and Minerals: Adequate levels of vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin D and magnesium, are important for metabolic health.

The Increase in Ghrelin: What is Ghrelin?

Ghrelin, often nicknamed "the hunger hormone," plays a crucial role in signaling to your brain that it's time to eat. Primarily produced in the stomach, but also in the brain, small intestine, and pancreas, it influences several aspects of our metabolism.

In addition to stimulating appetite, ghrelin is involved in regulating glucose and insulin, as well as taste perception and sleep quality. It also contributes to the release of growth hormone, thus promoting metabolism, fat breakdown, and muscle development.

Fluctuations in Ghrelin Secretion (Causes and Consequences)

Ghrelin levels vary throughout the day, peaking before meals and decreasing afterwards. This fluctuation corresponds to our natural cycle of hunger and satiety.

However, situations such as restrictive diets or fasting can lead to a significant increase in ghrelin levels. This increase can make long-term weight loss difficult, as it intensifies feelings of hunger and encourages overeating after a period of restriction.

Furthermore, individuals with eating disorders like anorexia may exhibit elevated levels of ghrelin, contributing to a cycle of dietary restriction that's difficult to break.

Solutions for Optimal Hormonal Regulation

To maintain a healthy hormonal balance and promote effective appetite regulation, it's crucial to adopt strategies that take these hormonal mechanisms into account. In addition to a balanced and varied diet, stress management, quality sleep, and regular physical activity can help maintain stable ghrelin levels and promote a healthy relationship with food.

Luminaissance supplement is a comprehensive and innovative dietary supplement that helps you achieve hormonal balance. It contains inositol (myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol), taurine, acetylcysteine, as well as significant percentages of the daily recommended intake of vitamins C, B6, and B12. These ingredients are specifically chosen to support hormonal health, improve insulin sensitivity, and promote a balanced metabolism.

Furthermore, the use of dietary supplements specifically formulated to support hormonal regulation, such as Luminaissance, can provide additional support for maintaining optimal hormonal balance and promoting effective body weight management.

The Benefits of Weight Loss in PCOS

Despite the challenges associated with weight loss for women with PCOS, studies have shown that even modest weight loss can have beneficial effects on the symptoms of the condition. Losing just 5 to 10% of initial body weight can help alleviate hyperandrogenism, improve insulin sensitivity, and restore menstrual cycle regularity. These changes can not only help improve fertility in women with PCOS but also reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases and other health complications associated with the condition.

Strategies for Addressing Weight Loss with PCOS

When it comes to losing weight with PCOS, a holistic and personalized approach is essential. Rather than focusing solely on caloric restriction, it's important to adopt a balanced and sustainable dietary approach, rich in anti-inflammatory foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

In addition to a healthy diet, regular physical activity plays a crucial role in weight management and symptom management of PCOS. Exercise helps burn calories, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce stress, which can be particularly beneficial for women with this condition.

Practical Tips for Managing Weight with PCOS

For women with PCOS, managing weight can seem like a constant challenge. However, by following some basic principles and working with healthcare professionals, it's possible to overcome these difficulties:

Dietary Strategies for Managing PCOS

In this section, we will explore specific dietary approaches to effectively manage Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

Principle of PCOS-Adapted Nutrition

To start, it's crucial to understand that PCOS requires a tailored dietary approach to support symptom management. Rather than solely focusing on weight loss, the primary goal is to adopt a diet that aids in hormone regulation, reduces inflammation, and enhances overall health.

Elimination of Restrictive Diets

PCOS doesn't respond well to restrictive and yo-yo diets. Instead, it's recommended to prioritize a balanced and varied diet, centered on whole and nutritious foods, to support healthy weight management and symptom relief.

Anti-Inflammatory Approach to Reducing PCOS Symptoms

In this section, we emphasize the importance of reducing inflammation to alleviate PCOS symptoms and promote better health.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Reducing inflammation can help alleviate PCOS symptoms like hyperandrogenism and insulin resistance. We recommend incorporating foods rich in omega-3s, antioxidants, and fiber, such as fatty fish, colorful vegetables, flax seeds, and nuts, to support this goal.

Recalling the Anti-Inflammatory Diet:

An anti-inflammatory diet is based on selecting foods that can help reduce inflammation in the body and promote overall better health. Here are the basics of this type of diet:

  • Antioxidant-Rich Foods: Antioxidants are compounds found in many plant foods that help neutralize free radicals and reduce inflammation. Colorful fruits and vegetables, like berries, citrus fruits, spinach, carrots, and bell peppers, are rich in antioxidants.

    • Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries.
    • Citrus Fruits: Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, mandarins.
    • Leafy Greens: Spinach, kale, Swiss chard.
    • Colorful Vegetables: Carrots, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, beets.
    • Stone Fruits: Plums, cherries, peaches.
  • Omega-3s: Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties.

    • Fatty Fish: Wild salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines.
    • Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts.
    • Seeds: Flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds.
    • Vegetable Oils: Flaxseed oil, walnut oil, hemp oil.
  • Fiber-Rich Foods: Fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains can help reduce inflammation by promoting a healthy gut microbiota and regulating blood sugar.

    • Fruits: Apples, pears, bananas, mangoes.
    • Vegetables: Beans, lentils, chickpeas, broccoli.
    • Whole Grains: Quinoa, oats, brown rice, spelt.
    • Root Vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips.
  • Herbs and Spices: Some herbs and spices have anti-inflammatory properties, including turmeric, ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, garlic, and rosemary. They can be added to dishes to boost their nutritional value and health benefits.

    • Turmeric: Used in curries and Indian dishes.
    • Ginger: Added to smoothies, teas, and Asian dishes.
    • Cinnamon: Sprinkled over cereals, yogurts, or coffee.
    • Garlic: Used in sauces, soups, and stir-fries.
  • Healthy Fat-Rich Foods: Healthy fats found in avocados, nuts, seeds, and extra virgin olive oil can help reduce inflammation and support cardiovascular health.

  • Reducing Processed Foods and Added Sugars: Processed foods and added sugars can contribute to inflammation in the body. It's recommended to limit the consumption of these foods and prioritize more natural, unprocessed options.

  • Adequate Hydration: Drinking enough water is essential for maintaining good hydration and promoting overall health, including reducing inflammation. It's recommended to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day, but individual needs may vary based on factors like physical activity and climate.

Balance and Variety of Nutrients

A balanced diet, consisting of an appropriate combination of complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, healthy fats, and fiber, can help maintain stable blood sugar levels, promote satiety, and regulate hormones. It's recommended to prioritize whole and natural foods to maximize nutritional benefits.

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Incorporating Suitable Physical Activity

In this section, we address the importance of physical activity for managing PCOS and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Physical Activity and Weight Management

Regular physical activity can help promote weight loss, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce the risks of cardiovascular complications associated with PCOS. It is recommended to choose activities that one enjoys and integrate them into daily routines to reap the maximum benefits.

Combatting Sedentary Behavior

Reducing sedentary time and increasing daily physical activity can also contribute to improving metabolic health and facilitating effective management of PCOS. Simple choices such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or going for a short walk after meals can make a significant difference.

Holistic Approach for Sustainable Management

In this final part, we address the importance of a holistic approach for sustainable management of PCOS.

Patience and Perseverance

Managing PCOS and associated weight loss can be a slow and gradual process. It is essential to be patient and perseverant, focusing on sustainable changes rather than immediate results. A long-term approach is often the most effective for achieving lasting results.

Professional and Psychological Support

Seeking professional support, especially from healthcare professionals specialized in PCOS management, is recommended to obtain personalized advice and guidance throughout the journey. Additionally, psychological support can be beneficial for overcoming emotional challenges associated with weight and PCOS management.


Weight management with PCOS can be challenging, but by adopting a holistic and sustainable approach, positive results can be achieved. By closely collaborating with healthcare professionals and implementing tailored nutritional and lifestyle strategies, women with PCOS can improve their symptoms and quality of life in the long term.



Dr. Martin Juneau, M.D.