PCOS weight loss struggle


Hi, I’m new to the forum. My husband and I have been TTC for 19 months. We have been to a fertility clinic, I was diagnosed with PCOS and my husband has had two sperm analyses done, first zero, second extremely low. My doctor had me on metformin but I was unable to continue taking it. I have a condition that causes vertigo and while I was starting out, gradually increasing my dose, during the second week I had a bad vertigo attack that lasted a week. I waited a month, tried again, made it 3 days on metformin again starting from scratch and was hit with another attack that lasted about 3 days. My doctor had me stop metformin but hasn’t given me anything different to try.
My question is, for those with PCOS who have been able to lose weight, do you have any suggestions? Has anyone been able to lose weight without taking metformin? I read Sugar Busters and pretty much understand the low glycemic index idea. I still struggle with it at times. Even after being on it for a couple months I still have days where I feel like I’m having sugar withdrawals again. No weight loss though. I started walking for 30 minutes 4 times a week for about a month before it got too hot to handle, no luck then either. Im feeling very frustrated and hopeless that I’ll ever figure it out. I’ve tried almost every diet program, pill, spent hundreds of dollars on exercise programs, gym memberships. I feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I’m willing to try just about anything!


Hi Kimberly, welcome to the forum!

PCOS is a frustrating thing to have, for sure, and weight loss is an extremely common issue. And yeah, sugar is an issue: essentially people are either wired to like sugar or are wired to like salt (which overwhelmingly determines what kinds of munchies they prefer, chocolate vs chips, for example) and whichever one you are you’re pretty much stuck with it. Pills and diets and exercise programs add to the challenge because you have to have the extra mental fortitude to stick with them even when they don’t appear to be working, and believe me, with PCOS they often don’t appear to do anything at all.

This year alone I’ve tried two different dieting strategies. In April I did the Whole 30 and lost 12 pounds, most of it in the first two weeks (which is typical of most diets of that type.) Unfortunately that kind of eating (100% clean, 100% homemade, zero sugar of any kind real or fake, zero dairy, zero grain, zero alcohol, zero legumes, zero bacon… as one friend of mine put it, zero joy) is just absolutely not sustainable for me. And that’s what a lot of PCOS diet recommendations are, when you get down to them. Much more recently (two weeks ago, in fact) my husband and I started the 21 Day Fix, which also advocates clean eating… but is not nearly as adamantly restrictive as the Whole 30 was. In fact its methodology is a lot more sustainable for us, which is good because it appears to be working pretty well for both of us: I’ve lost about 4 pounds in two weeks, which is at the upper end of what most doctors and nutritionists recommend for ‘real’ weight loss.

But actually I am not here to push either of those methods on you, I wanted to make an observation about what I’ve learned from these experiments which might possibly help you. It’s actually sort of counter-intuitive, because the obvious formula for losing weight usually comes down to eating less calories than you burn in a given day. My basal metabolic rate is supposed to be almost 1800 calories a day, so you’d think that if I ate something like 1400 per day, a substantial deficit, I’d be awesome and thin. Unfortunately no, that isn’t the case at all: I diligently counted every calorie that went into my mouth for a month (along with my sister, who HAS lost something like 50 pounds over the last year simply by being insanely careful about what she eats, what with the scale and the measuring and stuff) and it didn’t do anything at all for me.

She doesn’t have PCOS, though.

Our metabolisms are fundamentally different than most people’s, though, and I’m pretty much convinced that most diet programs and pills and things don’t work because it means we don’t eat enough. We drop the threshold of calories TOO low and lock into famine-condition calorie retention, or as close to it as Americans can come… because we’re not actually starving, clearly. My 21-Day Fix bracket puts me in their 1500-1799 calorie category; amusingly, my husband is in it too and he’s 40 pounds lighter than I am, so we’re at the extreme ends of it, but for the first week and a half he was constantly coming back to see what else he could ‘still eat’ whereas I struggle, every single day, to eat all the food it wants me to eat. About half the days I’ve been on it I’ve missed at least one box of food, usually fruit (I’m supposed to eat 4 cups of veggies and 3 cups of fruit, every single day) and some days I’ve missed a whole meal’s worth of it - and I’m pretty sure it’s what stalled me out.

Anyway, that’s about the only suggestion I can give you: find out for real how much you should be eating and then aim to get close to it. See if that helps.


PCOS is a common reason for infertility in women which may results in miscarriages, gestational diabetes, BP at the time of pregnancy and premature delivery.
here are no certain medications for PCOS but there are certain steps to manage this condition: By maintaining a healthy weight and eating less processed foods and foods with lesser sugar, Weight loss sometimes regulates the menstrual imbalance and improves the frequency of ovulation that boosts fertility.