Coach Joanna - Registered Dietitian
SEPTEMBER IS PCOS AWARENESS MONTH
At PLT Nutrition we unfortunately have many clients who suffer from PCOS, so we would like to share some information on how to manage the symptoms.
What is PCOS?
PCOS is POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME. It is the most common endocrine (hormone) disorder in women.
Here's the science:
People with PCOS typically have small immature follicles (mistaken as cysts) on their ovaries, caused by an overproduction of hormones that leads to irregular menstrual cycles as the first indication of a problem. But even with this, PCOS often goes undiagnosed for a long time.
It is caused by four main factors:
In addition to the irregular periods, PCOS symptoms include: excessive hair growth, weight changes and trouble losing weight, baldness or thinning hair, high testosterone levels, sleep problems and fatigue, acne, pelvic pain, mood changes and infertility.
PCOS has also been found to continue to impact women through the menopausal years, with women with PCOS beginning menopause later. In addition, the risk of diabetes and heart disease worsens with age.
Now that we know more about what PCOS is, what can be done to help?
With changes to diet and lifestyle many are able to manage their symptoms, improve the odds of getting pregnant, and reduce their risk of other health concerns. Weight loss of 5-10% of total body weight improves both reproductive and overall health.
But even with good advice, many struggle to implement it when fatigue makes exercise unappealing, and lack of sleep increases appetite and makes processed foods more desirable. When mental health is suffering it can make everything seem harder.
But change is possible.
Let’s talk about dietary changes first.
A diet high in refined carbohydrates (starchy, sugary, processed foods and beverages), can make insulin resistance and weight loss more difficult to manage.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD:
Below are dietary recommendations from current research that have been shown to be effective in improving PCOS. The good news is that the suggestions that follow are all part of the basics we focus on at PLT
The first nutrient research recommends focusing on is high fiber foods, especially non-starchy veggies and low-sugar fruits. These can help with insulin resistance by slowing down digestion and reducing the effect of sugar on the blood. Examples of high fiber foods include: avocados, seeds, berries, whole fruits & veggies, legumes, oats, popcorn, almonds, & high fiber breads & wraps.
The second nutrient to pay attention to is also going to sound very familiar around PLT, and that is focusing on lean protein sources like tofu, chicken, and fish because these are very filling, and one study showed a higher protein diet resulted in greater weight loss and decreases in glucose.
Foods that help reduce inflammation may also be beneficial, like tomatoes, kale, spinach, almonds and walnuts, olive oil, berries, and fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon and sardines.
One of the lifestyle changes that can help improve PCOS symptoms is exercise and daily physical movement. When paired with a limited intake of refined carbohydrates, both can help reduce insulin resistance. Many experts agree that at least 120 minutes (or 4-30 minute sessions) per week of exercise is ideal. Exercise has been shown to improve ovulation and menstrual regularity, improve insulin sensitivity, decrease androgens, decrease risk of cardiovascular disease, and improve mental health.
What’s important is to start where you are with an activity you actually enjoy doing, because then you’ll be more likely to keep at it, and then build from there.
A second lifestyle improvement to try would be stress reduction techniques like journaling, taking a walk, working on a hobby, deep breathing exercises, or yoga and meditation to improve the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Pay attention to your thoughts, and when you notice yourself being unkind or overly critical to yourself, practice speaking to yourself as you would your best friend, and reframe the thoughts. Acknowledge that your condition can be a real struggle sometimes. And while it’s not your fault, it is your responsibility to take care of yourself in the best and kindest way you can. In addition, speaking with a therapist or another healthcare professional or joining a PCOS support group may be beneficial.
A third lifestyle factor to pay attention is getting enough sleep. Good sleep helps balance hormones and mood, and makes it easier to regulate weight and appetite.
Although the research is still young, supplementing with inositol, which is an insulin sensitizer, has been shown to help regulate hormone levels and menstrual cycles, as well as improve insulin sensitivity, egg quality, and fertility. Two in particular are showing great promise, myo-inositol (MI) and d-chiro-inositol (DCI), either taking MI alone or in a combination of a 40:1 ratio with DCI. If this sounds like something you would like to try to see if it improves your symptoms, it’s best to consult with your doctor before beginning any supplements.
THE BIG TAKEAWAY
While daily activity, low sugar intake, and a low-inflammation diet may lead to weight loss, which in turn may improve ovulation, the truth is that it can be harder to lose weight when you have PCOS. But focusing on what you eat and how you move has a bigger influence on your overall health and symptoms than your weight on the scale, so let those improvements be your motivation to continue.
One great resource to check out is the PCOS Awareness Association
· This cookbook by Angela Grassi, MS, RDN, LDN may also be helpful
The PCOS Nutrition Center Cookbook: 100 Easy and Delicious Whole Food Recipes to Beat PCOS
~ Coach Kasha, Registered Dietitian
Well, it’s about that time again… Football season is upon us!
Whether you’re a football fan or not, you likely have friends or family who love football. That means you’ve likely spent a Sunday or two (and the occasional Monday night) hanging around certain “football foods” like pizza, wings, and all sorts of yummy, not so calorie-friendly foods.
As we know we definitely do not have to avoid these foods all together. Sometimes you can (and should) eat the pizza! However, if this is becoming every Sunday thing you may find it difficult to hit your goals and stay on plan.
Perhaps you can try doing football season a little differently this year.
Here are some healthy swaps that may help you stay on plan:
Here are a few more fun and healthy ideas to try:
Happy football season and may the odds forever be in your team's favor!
All about alcohol... 🍺🍷🍹🥂
~ Maxine, Registered Dietitian
Let me start off with the most important part- Your alcohol consumption is a personal decision.
At PLT Nutrition we don’t ask or expect our clients to completely stop drinking alcohol. We follow a #flexibledieting weight-loss approach which means that you can enjoy an occasional drink without feeling like you’ve ‘fallen off track’ of the program.
However, reducing your alcohol intake is something that we often encourage due to the negative effects alcohol has on your health and weight loss.
Now let’s get into the science!🤓
Did you know that alcohol is classified as a depressant, even though it can make you feel all kinds of happy?
It slows down your central nervous system which causes a decrease in coordination, reaction time and brain function.
Alcohol contains 7cal/g which is in between carbs & protein (4cal/g) and fat (9cal/g). Interestingly, the calories you consume through alcohol have shown to provide no satiation unlike macros.
Researchers have found that alcohol affects an area of the brain that controls your appetite. It causes intense hunger, especially the day after drinking. A 2017 study interestingly found that nerve cells in the brain triggered by actual starvation can also be stimulated by alcohol (https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms14014) Those are just two of the many reasons why drinking can easily lead to overeating and a lack of restraint.
How does alcohol move through your body?🩸
Approximately 20% of alcohol is absorbed through the stomach and most of the remaining 80% is absorbed through the small intestine.
Alcohol is metabolized by enzymes in the liver. In general, your liver can process one ounce of liquor (a standard drink) in one hour. When you drink alcohol at a faster rate than your liver can process, it ends ups in your bloodstream.
Your body usually uses the food you’ve consumed on a first come, first-serve basis. When alcohol enters your body it cuts to the front of the line, becoming the body’s primary fuel source.
While it might sound like a good thing that your alcohol calories are being used, it’s bad news for the food in your stomach. The liver will prioritize alcohol before carbs and fats so the energy from your food goes unused and is stored as body fat.
The calorie content of alcoholic drinks can be very deceptive. A 5oz serving of wine has 120 calories, but who’s actually pouring a glass of 5oz wine? A typical wine glass holds 12-25 oz (and wine glasses are getting even bigger) so you do the math.😱 Cocktails are another story entirely and can easily reach up to 600cal per glass. Always opt for low calorie drinks and do your research.
Alcohol consumption is linked to a decreased testosterone production in men and decreased progesterone levels for women. A long-term high intake of alcohol will lead to a large disruption of the hormone-controlling endocrine system.
Alcohol does help you fall asleep faster but only for the first half of the night. It has shown to increase sleep disruptions and decreases REM sleep throughout the night. Less REM sleep can lead to drowsiness the next day as well as poor concentration, and you guessed it- further sleep disruptions!
Alcohol has also been found reduce the amount of melatonin that your body creates which also interrupts your daily sleep cycle. Sleep deprivation increases your stress hormones which makes it more difficult to burn fat and greatly effects your appetite.
Your digestive system treats alcohol as a toxin, and it works hard to remove it from your body. Alcohol can trigger stress on the stomach and intestines as well as decrease digestive secretions and negatively impact your gut microbiome. This reduces how many nutrients your body breaks down and absorbs.
This one is for the woman💁♀️
Because of several physiological reasons, women will feel the effects of alcohol more than a man (even if they are the same size). There is increasing evidence that women are also more susceptible to alcohol's damaging effects.
This is due to:
As if this wasn’t enough bad news for us woman, here comes the final punch.
Sorry for the red wine drinkers!🍷
A large study that was published in March this year (led by a team from Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT and Harvard) analyzed the connection between alcohol consumption and heart health. They found that drinking any amount (even a low consumption) was associated with an increased risk of heart disease. That risk increased drastically with a higher intake. (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2790520?resultClick=3)
Research has suggested resveratrol 🍇(found in grape skins and berries) may act like an antioxidant and positively contribute to heart health. In 2016 it was found that a person would have to drink at least 17000 oz / 500 L of red wine per day to get enough resveratrol to benefit from it. 😳(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4942868/)
Researchers are now advocating for an update on alcohol warning labels. The current labeling has not changed for 30 years and focuses only on risks during pregnancy, operating machinery and a statement that alcohol “may cause health problems.”
This is believed to be misleading as there is now firm evidence of harm. Alcohol has been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a group 1 carcinogen. It has been linked to an increased risk of many cancers as well as a wide range of diseases including liver disease, pancreatitis, and heart disease.
What can you do?🤔
In my opinion, drastically limiting or abstaining from alcohol is the best way to improve your health and achieve the most success on your weight loss journey.
Here are some ideas if you are trying to cut back: