PCOS and Metabolism: Why you NEED to have your metabolism tested ASAP!

PCOS and Metabolism: Why you NEED to have your metabolism tested ASAP!

Are you unable to lose weight in spite of vigorous exercise and a disciplined training schedule? Are you looking to maximize your performance yet feel like despite all your efforts you are failing miserably? Have you hit a plateau in your weight loss? Would you like to take the “guesswork” out of determining your calories to achieve your goals? Well if you answered “heck yes” to any of the above questions then you are likely the perfect candidate for RMR testing. 

 

What is Metabolism

 

First things first, before we talk about RMR testing and why it is so friggin’ important we need to define metabolism. Did you know that even when you’re at rest, your body needs energy for its “silent” functions? These include breathing, circulating blood, adjusting hormone levels, and growing and repairing cells. The number of calories your body uses to carry out these basic functions is known as your basal metabolic rate (BMR) or more often referred to outside of a clinical setting as resting metabolic rate (RMR).

 

There are many factors which determine our metabolism. Some include:

 

Your body size and composition.

People who are larger or have more muscle burn more calories. Even at rest these folks tend to have higher RMR’s.

 

Your sex.

Men usually have less body fat and more muscle than do women of the same age and weight. This means men burn more calories at rest (Boo!). But don’t worry, I will be sharing some tips for how us chicks can optimize our metabolisms.

 

 

Your age.

As we get older (sigh), the amount of muscle we carry tends to decrease. Fat accounts for more of our weight, slowing down calorie burning.

[Truth bomb: If you consistently work out with weights you can help off-set some of this loss 🙂 ] 

 

 

RMR testing

 

 

Two other important factors that determine how many calories your body burns each day:

 

Food processing (we call this thermogenesis!)

Did you know that digesting, absorbing, transporting and storing the food you consume also expends calories? Score! About 10 percent of the calories you burn each day come from the digestion and absorption of food and nutrients.

Physical activity

Physical activity and exercise accounts for the rest of the calories your body burns up each day. It comes as no surprise that physical activity is by far the most variable of all the factors.  

 

 

RMR testing

 

 

The changes in overall body mass (increase or decrease) ultimately comes down to long-term energy balance which is represented by energy in (via food) and energy out (via metabolic rate). Total energy expenditure is determined by many factors including: body composition, sex, age, thermogenesis and physical activity. Having ‘good’ genetics certainly doesn’t hurt either!  So now that you are a master of ‘all terms metabolism’ let’s get down to business. 

 

Here are my top three reasons for why getting your RMR tested is SO important to achieving your body composition and training related goals

1. Takes the guesswork out

 

By having your metabolism tested by a professional you never need to ask yourself the annoying questions, “How much or little should I be eating ?!?”

 

How many times have you entered your height and weight into an online metabolism calculator only to get some crazy number which you have no idea how to interpret?

I cannot tell you how many times patients come into my office following a calorie level that is completely wrong for the goals they are trying to accomplish. This frustrates the heck out of me. It’s not that they are unsuccessful for lack of trying.  It’s simply because they have been provided with the wrong information.

By testing your RMR you will now know the exact number of calories your body needs to accomplish your dietary and fitness related goals. There is no more guessing or even second guessing where your calories need to be! Through the use cutting edge technology we can help you determine the exact amount of calories you need to reach your goals. Headache solved!

 

 

2. Gives you an accurate baseline.

 

If you don’t know your baseline calorie needs how do you know if what you are doing is ‘working’?

 

You have got big goals which I love and admire. However, how can you accomplish your long-term goals if you don’t know where your baseline needs currently are? Testing your metabolism before you make significant changes to your exercise and/or training routine can provide you with a solid foundation in which to make adaptations.  Therefore, as things like your body composition, weight and/or performance markers change over time you can adjust your calories relative to your new goals.

Independent of what our specific goals are we all need a caloric starting point. If we don’t have a baseline and we start making changes to our diet how can we tell what specific calorie level is working? Simply put – we can’t.

Therefore, by testing your RMR before making any significant dietary and/ or training changes you are armed with an accurate, reliable calorie level to base your goals on.

 

3. It helps you when you are stumped.

 

Knowing your RMR gives you clarity in those moments when no matter how hard you try – you just cannot seem to tackle your dietary and/or fitness goals. 

 

Knowing your your RMR can be critical when you are stumped. As mentioned previously many people base their goals around a calorie level that is not in tune with their goals. Along with the headache this creates can come a massive amount of frustration. Unfortunately, if you have been there you know exactly what I am talking about 🙁 

Trying to gain lean muscle mass but struggling like crazy? It could be that your calories are too low. We all know that in order to build anything we need ‘extra’ resources, right? That extra might be money, resources or time. Same goes for putting on muscle. In this case, the extra needs to be in the form of calories. Therefore, for someone aiming to put on muscle they need to FIRST make sure they are taking in enough calories to do.

 

RMR testing

 

 

On the flip side, do you feel like you are at a weight loss plateau? Are you meticulously counting calories, carbs, protein and everything under the sun and still not losing weight? Is MyFitnessPal definitely not your pal? For most people the simple answer is their calories are not in tune with their weight loss goals. It could be that their calories are too low. Or it could mean that their calories are too high. How the heck will they know unless they actually test their metabolism?

 

Knowing your unique RMR for the different ‘seasons’ can help optimize your nutrition during both your off-season and peak training periods. During training, you need to make sure you are taking in enough calories to support not only your training but your ideal body composition for your sport. It’s no surprise when an athlete is not taking in enough calories how quickly they feel the side effects. Unintentional weight can lead to fatigue, burnout and injury. All of these can be factors can be minimized if not avoided entirely.

 

Case in point – I rest my case. Plain and simple – anyone with a performance or body composition related goal should have their metabolism tested. And truth be told I don’t know a whole lot of people who don’t share these goals (especially the later!) By testing your RMR you will no longer be ‘spinning your wheels.’ The precise tools you need to determine the exact calorie level to fit your specific goals is attainable. And just like Jim Rohn’s stated, “When you know what you want and you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way to get it.”

 

Support for women with PCOS

 

 

Amy Plano PCOS Dietitian

 

 

 

 

P.S. Did you know we are running a 40 % discount on RMR testing for the month of July? Use the coupon code thisis40 when scheduling your metabolism testing under the ‘appointments’ tab on our website www.amyplano.com
P.P.S. What are you waiting for? This fantastic deal will not be around forever. Cut through all the confusion and get the numbers you need.
P.P.P.S. Does any of this mumbo-jumbo about RMR testing resonate with YOU? If so, in what way? Share your thoughts in the comments below. We ♥ to hear your thoughts. Don’t be shy – we don’t bite.

 

 

 

 

Why is Weight Loss So Hard when you have PCOS ?

Why is Weight Loss So Hard when you have PCOS ?

Why Is Weight Loss SO hard when you have PCOS?

 

Did you know that weight loss can help with improving almost all the symptoms of PCOS? Even a modest weight loss of 5 – 10 % of a woman’s initial weight can lead to improvements in insulin sensitivity, ovulation and fertility!  But, I know this is easier said than done. Weight gain and weight loss are two of the most common issues women with PCOS are forced to deal with.

even modest weight loss

But, what gives ? Why is weight loss so hard if you have PCOS? Well my dietetic intern Jackie Budlowski and I are here to lay the smack down and give the 411 of why the heck it so friggin’ challenging to lose weight when you have PCOS. Get your notebook out — these are some golden nuggets of information 🙂

Insulin 

I truly believe insulin is one of the most important hormones in controlling weight!  Your pancreas secretes insulin to regulate your blood glucose levels. In most individuals, insulin helps lower one’s blood glucose levels by shuttling glucose into the cells where it can be used for energy. However, most women with PCOS do not effectively process glucose. They experience what is called insulin resistance.Their bodies are less sensitive to the effects of insulin. In response, the pancreas dumps out even more insulin, leading to high insulin levels, or what is known as hyperinsulinemia.

High levels of insulin signal to the body that energy is abundant. In turn, rather than use the extra energy as fuel, women with PCOS store excess glucose as fat. Therefore, one of the biggest keys to controlling weight is to regulate blood sugar and control insulin levels. This is best accomplished through a moderate carbohydrate diet supplemented with the insulin sensitizing agent metformin.

If you are not already familiar with the benefits of metformin please read my previous blog post which will bring you up to speed.

Slow Metabolism

Women with PCOS have been shown to have a slower metabolic rate. This is based on many factors but the primary one being the amount of body fat women with PCOS tend to carry. Your metabolic rate is the number of calories you need for your body and organs to work. You see, body fat is what I consider metabolically “dead.” It does nothing for you but kind of just hang there.

Muscle on the other hand is very thermogenic. It burns more calories than fat does – even while at rest. In fact, muscle tissue is about 8 times more metabolically demanding than fat. A higher percentage of lean body weight (muscles) results in a higher metabolism compared to people of the same weight with a lower percentage.

PCOS and weight

If you have a slower metabolic rate, this means you must consume fewer calories than the average woman. Eating more calories than you burn can lead to weight gain. In future blog posts we will discuss some of the different ways to improve your metabolic rate (Hint – Hint : strength training is definitely one of them!)

If you are curious what your metabolic rate is and you live in the Connecticut area shoot us an email at amy.plano@yahoo.com. We can set up a time to test your metabolism. We have a device called the Bodygem which tests your metabolism by using a simple breathing device. The Bodygem is the “gold standard” of metabolism testing devices. Don’t believe us ? Click here bodygem validation to review the research. The cost of the test is $150.00. You must be fasted, with no caffeine or exercise for 4 hours before the test.

Appetite Hormones

There are a number of hormones involved with hunger and appetite control. Ones of particular interest for women with PCOS are leptin, cholecystokinin (CCK) and insulin. These hormones are responsible for signaling to the body to tell it that is it full and to “stop eating.”  Research has shown that women with PCOS have altered hormone signals, which may lead you to feel constantly hungry even when you are consuming enough calories. This leads to overeating, increases in body fat and overall lower esteem. Not a winning combination for weight loss.

Leptin

Did you know that your fat cells produce hormones? This is one reason women who carry a significant amount of body fat often have hormonal problems. One of the hormones produced by your fat cells is leptin. This hormone sends a signal to the hypothalamus gland in your brain when fat cells are full. Due to the fact that cells produce leptin in proportion to their size, overweight women with PCOS also have very high levels of leptin.

Given the way leptin is supposed to work, women who are overweight and have PCOS should have a diminished appetite. But we know this is not the case. You can have a lot of fat making a lot of leptin, but it doesn’t turn the hunger valve off. The brain isn’t listening. No drop in appetite. In fact, your brain might even think  you’re starving. This because as far as it’s concerned, there’s not enough leptin!  So you get even hungrier. This condition is known as leptin resistance. This causes an up regulation of appetite. This supports why women with PCOS tend to constantly be hungry despite taking in an ideal amount of calories.

Cholecystokinin (Alias: CCK)

Therefore, it may come at no surprise that women with PCOS often feel less satisfied after a meal than women without PCOS. This can be attributed to the hormone cholecystokinin (CCK). CCK is responsible for telling your body you are full after a meal. Women with PCOS are reported to secrete less CCK in response to a meal. So, if your CCK levels are lower, this means you will be hungrier after meals despite just eating. It has also been speculated that impaired CCK secretion may play a role in the greater frequency of binge eating in women with PCOS.

Not so awesome, right ? But the plot thickens …

Insulin

Lastly, insulin also acts as an appetite stimulating hormone. You may already be familiar with the concept of insulin resistance and PCOS. If you are not click here to brush up on your knowledInsulin resistance occurs when there is a lot of insulin being produced (such as, with many women who have PCOS), but the body and brain have stopped “listening” to insulin’s effects. The scenario becomes : you eat, your body releases insulin, but your body still tells you to eat more.  So you eat more and increase the likelihood of storing the food you do eat as excess body fat. And if this is not bad enough – you rarely feel satisfied.Therefore, high levels of insulin may be one of the many reasons why you may experience more hunger than other people. Higher hunger levels inevitably leads to more eating which results in weight gain.

Just because it is harder to lose weight, doesn’t mean it is impossible. Here are some tips on how to take the bull-by-the-horns and make your hunger hormones work for you!

 

Weight loss & PCOS: How to manipulate your hunger hormones for weight loss 

Pump up the protein

Do your best to have protein at all meals, but especially at breakfast. Breakfast sets the “appetite tone” for the day!  Therefore, consuming high-quality protein sources such as eggs, Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with some nuts will help reduce your hunger hormones and keep your appetite at an even keel throughout the day.

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 7.26.07 AM

Skip the processed carbs (duh!)

Stay away from refined-carbohydrate-only meals and snacks such as cereal, a bowl of pasta, crackers, chips and starchy snacks. Even having a healthy snack such as fruit alone can trigger a spike and an immediate drop in insulin, so add some nuts, a piece of cheese or Greek yogurt to your fruit.

Focus on high fiber foods

Fiber is deeply tied to satiety. High volume, low-calorie, nutrient dense foods delay gastric emptying keeping food in the stomach for a longer period. Therefore, do your best to include foods such a vegetables, high fiber cereals, fruit and legumes to keep hunger at bay. The goal is aim for 25-30 grams of fiber spread throughout the day.

Eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids to boost leptin

People who are overweight tend to release too much of a group of molecules that the body uses to combat inflammation. These molecules reduce leptin’s ability to communicate with the brain. They are thought to be one of the underlying causes of leptin resistance. Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the production of these molecules by reducing inflammation in the body. The body does not produce omega-3 fatty acid therefore you must get from the diet.Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 7.27.48 AM Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include grass-fed meats, walnuts the fattier fish salmon, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, trout as well as chia seeds, flax seeds, summer squash and kale. Aim for about 800 – 1000 mg per day.

While the hormones that effect and control your hunger might be seen as complex, the three I’ve just discussed are keys to to unravelling this complicated web of PCOS, hunger and weight gain. As you can see, there are many factors at play, beyond just your determination to eat properly.  These are factors I want you think about when you become frustrated with your PCOS and weight gain.What is important to understand is that your behavior around eating is not always something you can always consciously regulate.

Be confident and believe in yourself. Weight loss may initially be a struggle, but with the proper approach I am confident you can do it!

Support for women with PCOS

 

 

 

 

 

Amy Plano PCOS Dietitian

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