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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What kind of supplements can I take to help my PCOS?

    I was diagnosed with PCOS a few months ago. I've been eating a low GI diet for some time and just started Crossfit for a more intensive exercise program. I really want to lose a bit of weight and need all the help I can get.
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  • 2


    Megan Leane

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    I am an Accredited Practising Dietitian with expertise in chronic disease management (diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol), weight loss, medical nutrition, allergy management and … View Profile

    PCOS is a particularly tricky to treat as the changes to your hormone levels means it is harder to shift any excess weight. A kilojoule/calorie controled, low GI diet, paired with daily exercise is the most effective way to lose weight in people with PCOS. If you are eating a well balanced diet including foods from every food group on a daily basis you will most likely not need any supplements. If you are cutting out some food groups (I commonly see people eating less serves of grain foods to achieve a low GI diet) you might want to consider taking a multivitamin to prevent any nutritional deficiencies. As for supplements which claim to help with weight loss, there are very few with any scientific evidence to support them. However, Green Tea taken in a large dose has been shown to temporarily increase the metabolic rate - which means using up more of your fat stores. You can buy Green Tea tablets and capsules from health foods stores, you would want to look for a strong dose around 18,000mg or above.

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    The low glycaemic index is a great tool to use for choosing the best carbohydrate foods and can be successful in helping some people lose weight. However building on the GI information, it is important that this is not an ad libitum diet and you need to learn how much you can eat to lose weight. It is important to understand the role of the other foods and their nutrient contribution as well. As Megan said having PCOS can make it harder to lose weight so getting advice from a Dietitian can be helpful especially when there are a number of weight loss plans in the social space which will not be so helpful for your long term health. Seeing  a Dietitian may be partially funded by a Medicare Chronic Disease Management plan which you can discuss with your GP.

    You do not need to take any supplements but have a good understanding of how to eat and exercise appropriately. While there are many supplements often touted as being helpful they often have very little resemblance to the research that may be suggesting something in them might be helpful for you. Remember this is a multi million dollar industry and only make your wallet ligher.  If they have "AUST L" on the label, this tells you these supplements have no independent testing to establish they are of any benefit in the area they are being promoted for. All it means is that they are deemed by the TGA to be low risk and reasonably safe to take if you want too.

  • Kirsty Woods

    Exercise Physiologist

    Hi I’m Kirsty Woods,I would like to use my experience, expertise and passion to help you reach your weight, energy and health goalsI have been … View Profile

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    Reducing carbohydrate is very fashionable at the moment but really it is just a novel way of reducing calories and therefore weight. The 'Low Carbohydrate Diet" is a term used for very vastly different dietary regimes and nutritional completeness , yet talked about as if they are all the same thing. For example could mean - just removing pasta, bread, rice and starchy vegetables or less that 45% of energy coming from carbohydrate foods or having less that 50gm of carbohydrate/day.The two posting above are a perfect example of this.

    To help you understand it is always wise to critically look at information you are given. One text recommends 20gm carbohydrate/day , which is their definition of a low carb diet. ( would mean that you would be unable to include any dairy products, fruit or any of the whole grain cereal grains the Dietitian recommends in the article, also only a limited quantity of non starchy vegetables could be included. So meeting your nutritional needs will be difficult which may affect other areas of your health especially long term. Also if carbohydrate is reduced, the chances are that fat will be increased. This can increase insulin resistance which is the very thing you are trying to overcome with PCOS.

    Looking at the second text, this boasts the same benefits as the diet above .They recommend 41% of your energy intake coming from carbohydrate. This is what they call a low carbohydrate diet as well. This would mean around 150gm carbohydrate/day if you were following a weight loss diet, more if not.  This dietary regime is a much better way to go, if you want to be able to meet your nutritional needs through your food especially where you can include all those foods you would need to eliminate on the dietary regime above. The whole grains, such as steel cut oats, brown rice and quinoa that the Dietitian recommends in the above text could then be included. I am sure by now you can work out how different the amount of carbohydrate intake is, between both diets, and the large range of nutritional completeness, yet both regimes being called a "low carbohydrate diet".

     A vegetarian/plant based diet ( which has little processed carbohydrate) is a high carbohydrate diet ( 60% of energy) with well researched health benefits, lower body weight, long term health benefits. A medierranean way of eating also has the same health benefits. Be a critical thinker. Don't be tricked by magazine journalism. 

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