Practical tips for managing insulin resistance in PCOS

An abstract image depicting insulin resistance and polycystic ovary syndrome PCOS

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) affects millions of women globally, causing various health challenges, one of which is insulin resistance. PCOS is strongly associated with insulin resistance​1,2​ and if left unmanaged, can lead to type 2 diabetes.

To help you manage PCOS-related insulin resistance effectively, here are some practical tips.

1. Balanced diet for PCOS and insulin resistance​3​

A well-planned diet is the cornerstone of managing insulin resistance in PCOS. Here’s how to get started:

Choose complex carbohydrates: Opt for whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and wholemeal bread. These carbohydrates have a slower impact on blood sugar levels. Limit ‘white’ simple carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, rice and potatoes.

Mindful portion control: Keep portions in check to prevent overeating and stabilise blood sugar. Use smaller plates if it helps you gauge portions better.

Limit sugar intake: Minimise sugary foods and drinks. Sugars cause rapid spikes in blood sugar, worsening insulin resistance. Check food labels for hidden sugars.

Prioritise lean proteins: Incorporate lean protein sources like skinless poultry, tofu, and legumes. Protein can help stabilise blood sugar levels by slowing digestion. Proteins take longer to digest, thus the energy gained from these foods is released into the blood at a slower rate.

Healthy fats: Include sources of healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil. These fats can help improve insulin sensitivity by slowing digestion. Fats take a little longer to digest, slowing the release of sugar into the blood from a meal.

Fibre is your friend: Foods rich in fibre, like vegetables, fruits, and beans, slow down digestion and help manage blood sugar levels.

Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water. Sometimes thirst can be mistaken for hunger, leading to unnecessary snacking.

2. Exercise for PCOS and insulin resistance​3​

Regular physical activity can significantly improve insulin resistance in PCOS. Here’s how to incorporate exercise into your routine:

Aerobic exercise: Engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week. Activities like brisk walking, swimming, and cycling are excellent choices.

Strength training: Include strength training exercises at least twice a week. This helps build muscle, which enhances insulin sensitivity.

Find what you enjoy: Choose activities you genuinely enjoy. You’re more likely to stick with a routine if it’s fun.

Set realistic goals: Start with achievable goals and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.

Consistency is key: Aim for regular exercise rather than sporadic intense workouts. Consistency is vital for managing insulin resistance.

Include rest days: Don’t forget to give your body time to recover. Rest days are essential for overall well-being.

3. Stress reduction techniques

Stress can exacerbate insulin resistance in PCOS. Try these stress-reduction strategies:

Practice mindfulness: Techniques like meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can help reduce stress levels.

Get enough sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Poor sleep can increase insulin resistance.

Prioritise self-care: Make time for activities you enjoy, whether it’s reading, painting, or spending time with loved ones.

Seek support: Talk to a therapist or counsellor if you’re struggling with stress or emotional well-being.

4. Medications and supplements

In some cases, healthcare providers may recommend medications or supplements to manage insulin resistance and other PCOS symptoms. These could include:

Inositol: A supplement that helps improve insulin sensitivity.​4–7​

Berberine: This herbal extract was found to be as effective as Metformin in managing blood sugar levels.​8–11​

Metformin: This medication is commonly prescribed to improve insulin sensitivity.

Birth control pills: They can regulate menstrual cycles and reduce androgen levels in some cases.

Consult your healthcare provider: Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new medication or supplement.

5. Regular check-ups

Routine medical check-ups are crucial. These visits can help monitor your progress, adjust your treatment plan if needed, and detect any emerging health concerns early.

Managing PCOS-related insulin resistance is a journey that requires commitment and patience. By following these practical tips and working closely with your healthcare provider, you can take charge of your health and reduce the risk of complications like type 2 insulin resistance.

Remember, small, consistent steps can lead to significant improvements in your well-being.

References​12–16​

  1. 1.
    Purwar A, Nagpure S. Insulin Resistance in Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Cureus. Published online October 16, 2022. doi:10.7759/cureus.30351
  2. 2.
    Marshall JC, Dunaif A. Should all women with PCOS be treated for insulin resistance? Fertility and Sterility. Published online January 2012:18-22. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2011.11.036
  3. 3.
    Chavarro JE, Rich-Edwards JW, Rosner BA, Willett WC. Diet and Lifestyle in the Prevention of Ovulatory Disorder Infertility. Obstetrics & Gynecology. Published online November 2007:1050-1058. doi:10.1097/01.aog.0000287293.25465.e1
  4. 4.
    Nas K, Tűű L. A comparative study between myo-inositol and metformin in the treatment of insulin-resistant women. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. Published 2017. https://www.europeanreview.org/article/13000
  5. 5.
    Asimakopoulos G, Pergialiotis V, Anastasiou E, et al. Effect of dietary myo-inositol supplementation on the insulin resistance and the prevention of gestational diabetes mellitus: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials. Published online July 9, 2020. doi:10.1186/s13063-020-04561-2
  6. 6.
    Caputo M, Bona E, Leone I, et al. Inositols and metabolic disorders: From farm to bedside. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine. Published online May 2020:252-259. doi:10.1016/j.jtcme.2020.03.005
  7. 7.
    Bevilacqua A, Bizzarri M. Inositols in Insulin Signaling and Glucose Metabolism. International Journal of Endocrinology. Published online November 25, 2018:1-8. doi:10.1155/2018/1968450
  8. 8.
    Utami AR, Maksum IP, Deawati Y. Berberine and Its Study as an Antidiabetic Compound. Biology. Published online July 8, 2023:973. doi:10.3390/biology12070973
  9. 9.
    Och A, Och M, Nowak R, Podgórska D, Podgórski R. Berberine, a Herbal Metabolite in the Metabolic Syndrome: The Risk Factors, Course, and Consequences of the Disease. Molecules. Published online February 17, 2022:1351. doi:10.3390/molecules27041351
  10. 10.
    Li Y, Ma H, Zhang Y, et al. Effect of berberine on insulin resistance in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: study protocol for a randomized multicenter controlled trial. Trials. Published online July 18, 2013. doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-226
  11. 11.
    Cao C, Su M. Effects of berberine on glucose-lipid metabolism, inflammatory factors and insulin resistance in patients with metabolic syndrome. Exp Ther Med. Published online February 22, 2019. doi:10.3892/etm.2019.7295
  12. 12.
    Teede H, Deeks A, Moran L. Polycystic ovary syndrome: a complex condition with psychological, reproductive and metabolic manifestations that impacts on health across the lifespan. BMC Med. Published online June 30, 2010. doi:10.1186/1741-7015-8-41
  13. 13.
    Boomsma C, Fauser B, Macklon N. Pregnancy Complications in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Semin Reprod Med. Published online January 2008:072-084. doi:10.1055/s-2007-992927
  14. 14.
    Zhao H, Zhang J, Cheng X, Nie X, He B. Insulin resistance in polycystic ovary syndrome across various tissues: an updated review of pathogenesis, evaluation, and treatment. J Ovarian Res. Published online January 11, 2023. doi:10.1186/s13048-022-01091-0
  15. 15.
    Cassar S, Misso ML, Hopkins WG, Shaw CS, Teede HJ, Stepto NK. Insulin resistance in polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis of euglycaemic–hyperinsulinaemic clamp studies. Hum Reprod. Published online October 7, 2016:2619-2631. doi:10.1093/humrep/dew243
  16. 16.
    Dunaif A. Insulin Resistance and the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Mechanism and Implications for Pathogenesis*. Endocrine Reviews. Published online December 1, 1997:774-800. doi:10.1210/edrv.18.6.0318


Original price was: USD $9.95.Current price is: USD $0.00. ex GST/VAT/TAX
Original price was: USD $9.99.Current price is: USD $0.00. ex GST/VAT/TAX
Veronica Danger, BHSc(N) Naturopathic Practitioner

Veronica Danger, BHSc(N) Naturopathic Practitioner

Veronica Danger is a qualified naturopath specialising in vulvovaginal health. Veronica earned her Bachelor of Health Sciences (Naturopathy) at Endeavour College of Natural Medicine in Melbourne, Australia. Veronica is a proud member of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS).
SHARE YOUR CART