PCOS/Insulin Resistance Support - insulin resistant teenager beyond frustrated

03-18-2013, 02:39 AM
hi, i'm new to this so hopefully i'm doing this right. i'm 19 years old and i am insulin resistant. i've been trying to deal with the insulin resistance and my weight for over 5 years now, going from about 145 lbs to 233 lbs (my current weight) over the course of those years. I've very active/athletic (I do crossfit several times a week) and was a high school athlete. I've been eating paleo for almost a year now.
i feel like i have tried EVERYTHING, but nothing helps. I was on a variety of medications last year, from victoza shots, to topamax, and others. They made me so depressed I almost dropped out of school, so I'm not taking them anymore, and feel much better.

I'm currently on 1000mcg of metformin twice a day and some thyroid meds.
Was wondering if anyone else out there has had any success with losing a significant amount of weight, while being insulin resistant. i'm starting to believe i can never change. i am beyond frustrated and could really use any advice anyone has. thanks for reading!

03-18-2013, 05:17 PM
Yes, of course! Welcome.

So, when you eat Paleo, are you counting calories too?

Because what I find is that I can't just eat a diet and not count calories. I need to keep my calories at 1500 or lower.

03-19-2013, 02:19 AM
That's a good point, I have started counting calories about a month and a half ago. I, too, am aiming for the 1500/1600, since i exercise fairly intensely several days a week. Also eating more of a ketogenic diet now, no fruits, but full fat dairy is okay in small amounts.

03-19-2013, 11:29 AM
I was in the same boat as you a few months ago. I went Paleo for a year, ate 1400 calories per day and did Crossfit 4-5 days per week. I gained 12lbs of FAT (not muscle!), which should be impossible in regards to the calories in/out theory. My face was breaking out horribly, too. I was 100% organic, grassfed, low fruit Paleo. I felt like there was no hope. Except now things are turning around...

This might sound sacrilege to the PCOS community, but I dropped most land animal products from my diet in the past month and started following The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder. I also quit Crossfit. The reasons why I made these changes are:

1. No Crossfit: PCOS already causes chronically high levels of circulating cortisol (the 'stress' hormone), and Crossfit is so intense that it can make cortisol worse in women with PCOS (non-PCOS women can get away with Crossfit much better).

2. Land animal products, and even some fish, can cause a huge release of insulin just to be digested (not blood sugar... they are two different things). Although animal products don't have carbs or sugar in them, for some reason they cause an insulin response. For example, after eating a meal of organic meat and vegetables, I noticed my blood sugar wouldn't really change (I have a monitor), but I was gaining pure fat in my belly and face at an alarming speed (2-3 lbs per week). Then I found this study from 1997 that found animal products created a worse insulin response than whole grains! http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/66/5/1264.abstract

3. It's not about burning calories. That might work for non-PCOS women but PCOS was never about calories in the first place. If it were, the calorie in/out protocol would work for us. Instead I've been doing activity that promotes low cortisol levels and well-being. I went from kickboxing, Crossfit, and HIIT to pilates, yoga, walking, slow kettlebell swings and a HOT BATH every single night.

So far in the past month:
1. I've lost 7lbs when the scale has not budged for a whole year
2. I am reversing my acne (my cystic testosterone acne around my mouth, jaw, and cheeks is disappearing, and being replaced with small pimples on my forehead-- a sign of detoxification!)
3. I no longer have stressful feelings that everything in life is urgent, or feelings of hopelessness, and my feelings of self-worth are increasing.

My protocal in a nutshell:

- 2 cups spearmint tea per day (blocks testosterone production)
- The Beauty Detox Solution meal plan- green smoothie for breakfast (I don't feel blood sugar spikes!! amazing.); green salad for lunch; probiotic salad with a vegetable dish for dinner, sometimes with quinoa or another ancient grain.
- Hot bath each night before bed with Epsom salts for detoxing. No exceptions.

What I avoid:
Dairy (the worst insulin response according to that report- worse than white bread!)
Land animal meats (even organic)

PLEASE REMEMBER.... each woman with PCOS is different, so my protocol that is helping me might not be right for you. But I wanted to respond because it seems Paleo + Crossfit isn't working for you, and I was in the exact same boat!

So again, just to sum up my changes-- I went from urgent, stress-inducing, calorie-burning activity and stress-inducing, calorie-dense foods to lighter, low-stress activity that promotes well-being, vegetable-dense meals, and a daily ritual that I can look forward to (hot bath).

Good luck and HUGS!!!

03-20-2013, 03:59 AM
I am 16 years old and have been struggling PCOS for 2 years. I am currently 280 pounds(my biggest) and am only getting bigger. I am fairly active, playing on my club volleyball team, practicing 3-4 times a week, but I can't lose weight. I don't know what to do.anymore. I have tried countless diet and exercise plans with hardly any results. I am so.selfconcious and depressed, all I can ever think about is food; what I eat, how much I eat, when I should eat, what I should eat, etc. It's exhausting and frustrating. I just wish I wasn't so fat. It's pretty much come down to me accepting that I'm going to be fat for the rest of my life, not that I want to be, I just can't find a solution. My senior year is this upcoming year and I desperately want to lose at least 100 pounds before then, I want to do all of the senior activities that my class does and feel confident. I also want to look good in pictures can someone who knows what I am going through give me some advice, sources that helped them, etc.? I am to the point of begging.
P.S. I wasn't sure how to make a new forum, so I picked one close to my problem.
Thank you, Abbi.

03-20-2013, 09:22 AM
Boy, I feel for you! I've been heavy since high school, too. With PCOS, you often have insulin resistance along with it. The ONLY way I've been able to lose weight is to lower my carbs (starches and sugars: grain, bread, pasta, potatoes, fruit, sweets) and lower my calories (start at 1600 and see how it goes for you, then lower if necessary. A lot of women I see online who count calories aim for 1200-1600).

I borrowed The Insulin Resistant DIet from my library, and it really changed my life. It's a framework for eating: three rules that are fairly flexible when it comes to how you eat. So it works for lifestyle that include lots of eating out, travel, or where you don't have control over all your food (like when you're a teen!).

Basically, the three rules are:

LINK: When/if you eat carbs, always eat it with protein.
BALANCE: For every serving (15 grams) of carb, eat at least one serving (9 grams) of protein.
LIMIT: Do not eat more than 30 grams (2 servings) of carb in any meal (or three -hour period)

If you eat carbs alone it can lead to high insulin in the blood stream in those of us who are IR, and that leads to fat cells "holding tight" to their fat and not releasing it as they should.

If you eat too much carb in a sitting, the insulin will actually start pushing fat into your cells for storage rather than allowing it to be pulled out for fuel.

It's a pretty simple framework, and easy to remember if you're not close to a calorie/carb counting software or book. If you follow this plan you can eat up to 120 carbs/day -- 30/meal x 3 and 15/snack x 2. That's pretty moderate in carbs compared to what most Americans eat.

So, for instance, I could have a sandwich, or a burger on a bun as part of my meal. The sandwich/bun has two slices of bread, so I already have my two servings of carb. That means I can't also have chips, fries, or fruit with that sandwich/burger. If I eat the sandwich/burger filling but not the bun/bread, then I can have fries. But not both.

I find the IR Diet framework really easy to remember and follow, once you have a good feeling for what 30 grams of carb looks like in the foods you usually eat. The book has some great lists, if I remember.

Personally, I now eat much lower carb than this. But it is still my overall framework for how I deal with the carbs that I do eat.

03-20-2013, 10:26 AM
Thank you for the advice. Like I said, I play volleyball quite a bit and I have always been told to eat more carbs before a practice, game, tournament. Any ideas on if this is true?

03-20-2013, 01:12 PM
I'm no kind of athlete, but I know that there are a number of lower-carb athletes out there. The idea behind "carbing up" before a practice or game is to make sure you have a full tank of glycogen in your muscles before hand, so you can draw on that fuel for the game. Carbs cause glycogen.

It also causes the infamous "runner's wall" in marathons or "bonk" in other long-term sports where you get to the point where your body has used all the glycogen in the muscles and has no other quick fuel to rely on, and so the athlete gets suddenly exhausted and down and can barely put one foot in front of the other.

The idea with low-carb regimens is that instead of fueling your body with carbs/glycogen, you force your body to break down fat and use ketones for fuel. Once your body is used to using ketones for fuel, you don't need to "carb up" before a game, because your body has SO MUCH more fuel in its fat cells than your muscles could ever store in glycogen.

But that's only my take on it, once removed, from things I've read. If you want to know more, search for "ketosis athlete" or "low carb athlete"

03-20-2013, 04:41 PM
Thanks for the feedback, all. Very interesting suggestions which I plan to go over with my endocrinologist. I just got some labs done with my glucose down to 90 (from 98) and insulin down to 13 (from 26), so even if my body takes a little while to adjust to starting to be in the normal range in terms of weight loss, it looks like what i've been doing is pushing me in the right direction.