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Hi, I’m Alyssa! AKA, The PCOS Nutritionist Alyssa!

I’m a Registered Dietitian dedicated to helping you eliminate your PCOS symptoms with sustainable and realistic nutrition changes.

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5 Best Supplements For PCOS Weight Loss (From A Dietitian)

If you’re wondering what the best supplements for PCOS weight loss are, you’re in the right place. 

Hi, my name’s Alyssa, I’m a registered dietitian and I also have PCOS. My goal is to help you navigate your health and reduce your PCOS symptoms using realistic and simple diet and lifestyle changes.

This blog post will dive into why weight loss is so difficult, the best supplements for PCOS weight loss, including how much to take and which brands, and some key facts about supplements. 

photo of wooden spoons with supplements on them; text overlay stating best supplements for pcos weight loss.

This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you.

Why Is PCOS Weight Loss So Difficult?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder that affects approximately 6-12% of women of reproductive age in the United States. Common symptoms of PCOS include irregular periods, infertility, food cravings, hirsutism (aka excess hair growth), hair loss, acne, and fatigue.  

Weight gain is another common symptom, and arguably one of the most frustrating ones to deal with since weight loss can seem so difficult. Many women complain of PCOS belly, or weight gain particularly in the abdominal area. This type of weight gain is commonly related to hormone levels. 

While the exact cause of PCOS is unknown, it’s known to be associated with insulin resistance, high androgen levels (aka male hormones like testosterone), and low-grade, chronic inflammation (1, 2). Additionally, cortisol levels are often higher in those with PCOS (3, 4). Any of these factors can make losing weight significantly more difficult. 

In order to successfully lose weight, a healthy PCOS diet and lifestyle modifications are essential. Supplements cannot replace these, however, they can supplement your efforts as part of your PCOS management plan.

For some info on a balanced diet and lifestyle modifications for PCOS, check out these posts:

A Dietitian’s 7 Day PCOS Diet Plan (PDF Included)

PCOS Self-Care: 10 Natural Ways To Manage Your Health

The Best Supplements For PCOS Weight Loss

Now, let’s move onto which supplements are the best options if weight loss is your goal. Besides weight loss, you likely have other health-related goals, whether it be improving your mental health, reversing hair loss, or getting pregnant. As you read through the following sections, consider your goals and whether there is a supplement that can check off multiple boxes for you. 

Inositol 

You may have heard of this popular PCOS supplement before since it is one of the most well-studied supplements when it comes to PCOS. Inositol is a type of sugar that’s naturally found in foods, such as citrus fruits, walnuts, and beans. It’s very similar to one of the B vitamins, and it actually used to be frequently referred to as vitamin B8.

Recent studies have shown that those with high caffeine intake (particularly coffee), insulin resistance, type 1 or type 2 diabetes, or a high intake of sugar and refined carbs require higher amounts of inositol (5). Since up to 80% of those with PCOS also have insulin resistance, inositol needs may be higher in PCOS.

Several research studies have shown that inositol has many benefits for PCOS. Some clinical trials have even found that inositol performs similarly to Metformin with less side effects (6, 7). 

Benefits of Inositol For PCOS 

Research has shown that inositol can: 

  • Improve insulin sensitivity by lowering glucose levels and insulin levels
  • Decrease body weight and BMI
  • Reduce inflammation  
  • Lower high cholesterol levels. It can lower total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels; it can also improve HDL (good) cholesterol levels
  • Lower testosterone levels, which can contribute to hirsutism and hair loss (8)
  • Restore ovulation and promote regular menstrual cycles (9)
  • Decrease the risk of gestational diabetes in pregnancy (11)
  • Improve thyroid function in hypothyroidism (12)

Side Effects

Inositol is generally recognized as safe for long term use. Side effects are rare and usually seen at very high doses. The most common side effects are hypoglycemia (aka low blood sugar levels), especially when it’s combined with other medications or supplements that are designed to treat high blood sugar levels like Metformin. Mild gastrointestinal issues such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea may also occur in a small number of people. 

infographic on the benefits of inositol for pcos weight loss.

Typical Dosage & Recommended Inositol Brands

The typical dosage of inositol for PCOS is actually a combination of two types of inositol: myo-inositol and d-chiro inositol. Myo-inositol by itself has been shown to help PCOS symptoms, however results seem to be better when it’s a combination form. One randomized controlled trial in particular found that those who combined myo-inositol plus d-chiro inositol lost more weight than those who took myo-inositol alone. The group with the combo inositol supplement lost 13.9% of their body weight in 6 months. 

The recommended dosage of inositol is 4,000 mg myo-inositol and 100 mg d-chiro inositol daily. It’s ideal to split this dose up into two servings of 2,000 mg myo-inositol plus 50 mg d-chiro inositol twice per day. 

For the recommended myo-inositol and d-chiro combination supplements, I recommend Ovasitol by the brand Theralogix. It’s one of my absolute favorite supplements to recommend for PCOS. You can use PRC code: 202702 for a discount, and this can usually be combined with a discount code found online to make it more afforadable. You can read more about this particular inositol supplement here: 8 Ovasitol Benefits for PCOS

Another good option is Wholesome Story, which is available in a powder form or capsule form. Just be aware that the listed serving size is half of the typical recommended dosage for inositol. 

Berberine

Berberine is another popular PCOS supplement. Recently, it’s gained even more popularity with people on social media referring to it as “nature’s Ozempic”. Berberine is an ancient herb that was commonly used for fertility and diabetes. 

Benefits of Berberine for PCOS

Research has found that berberine can: 

  • Lower insulin resistance by lowering glucose and insulin levels (13)
  • Significantly reduce fatty liver in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (14)
  • Reduce body weight and body mass index (BMI) (15)
  • Lower high cholesterol levels, particularly total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, while also raising HDL (good) cholesterol levels
  • Reduce high blood pressure
  • Decrease higher levels of androgens

Additionally, more research is needed but berberine may beneficially impact gut health. It also may help to improve fertility, possibly by way of improving metabolic disorders like insulin resistance and high blood pressure. 

Berberine also appears to perform similarly (or better) to Metformin in clinical trials for its ability to reduce body fat mass, cholesterol, glucose, insulin and testosterone. Less digestive side effects are usually reported with berberine versus metformin. 

infographic on the benefits of berberine for pcos weight loss.

Important Notes

Berberine is not considered safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Therefore, it’s generally not my first recommendation if fertility is your goal. 

Side Effects

Gastrointestinal upset is the most commonly reported side effect of berberine. 

Typical Dosage & Recommended Berberine Brands

Berberine appears to be safe for short-term use, although researchers acknowledge that more research is needed to determine safe doses for long-term use.

For short term use, most research studies used 500 to 1500 mg daily. It’s generally recommended to spread these doses out throughout the day in 500 to 600 mg increments. 

Depending on your dosage needs, I recommend either Integrative Therapeutics 500mg or Thorne 1000mg for berberine supplementation.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA)

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is an antioxidant that’s involved with glucose metabolism. It’s naturally found in certain foods, such as beef, organ meats, broccoli, spinach, potatoes, and tomatoes. 

Benefits of ALA for PCOS

Research shows that ALA can: 

  • Reduce body weight and BMI
  • Lower glucose and insulin levels
  • Reduce triglyceride levels
  • Improve egg quality

Important Notes

While the research on ALA alone is impressive, there’s even more impressive results for when ALA is combined with inositol. Studies show that when ALA is combined with inositol, there’s a significant improvement in menstrual cycles, reduced androgens, AMH, BMI, and insulin levels (16)  

Side Effects

Potential side effects are rare and usually occur with higher doses, but may include skin rashes, gastrointestinal upset, low blood sugar, and headaches. 

Typical Dosage & Recommended ALA Brands

Most positive studies done in PCOS used a dose of 400 mg or 800 mg ALA per day. I typically recommend this ALA supplement for PCOS. 

infographic with photos of the best supplements for pcos weight loss.

N-Acetylcysteine (NAC)

NAC is a powerful antioxidant and amino acid found in food. It’s most abundantly found in high protein foods like poultry, beef, eggs, yogurt, and cheese. 

Benefits of NAC for PCOS

Research shows that NAC can:

  • Reduce body weight and BMI
  • Lower insulin levels and fasting glucose levels
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Increase pregnancy and ovulation rates

NAC performs similarly to Metformin in studies. Some studies found that it outperforms Metformin and provides better lipid panels, fasting blood sugar levels, and fasting insulin levels (17, 18).

Important Notes

It should be taken in divided doses and on an empty stomach, which may be a barrier for some people to take the appropriate dose consistently.

Side Effects

NAC side effects are rare, but it may cause dry mouth or gastrointestinal upset.

Typical Dosage & Recommended NAC Brands

The recommended dosage of NAC is 1600 to 3000 mg per day in divided doses of 500 to 600 mg each. It’s best to take NAC on an empty stomach. 

For specific brands, I recommend this NAC supplement.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is commonly thought of as a vitamin, but in reality, it’s a hormone. It’s found in different foods such as salmon, egg yolks, and fortified dairy products, however, it’s often difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone. 

Additionally, research has found that 67-85% of those with PCOS are also vitamin D deficient (19). Honestly, this makes sense since PCOS has to do with hormonal imbalances, and vitamin D is a hormone. Your doctor can screen you for vitamin D deficiency with a simple blood test. 

Benefits of Vitamin D for PCOS

Research has shown that vitamin D can: 

  • Improve menstrual cycle regulation
  • Lower Anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) levels 
  • Increase ovulation rates and the amount of mature follicles
  • Decrease glucose and insulin levels
  • Lower inflammation
  • Decrease testosterone levels (20)
miscellaneous pills and supplements spread onto a countertop.

Important Notes

There aren’t many studies that clearly show that vitamin D supplementation can promote weight loss. However, there are many studies, including this systematic review, that show how optimal vitamin D levels and supplementation can significantly improve factors that make weight loss so difficult, such as insulin resistance and inflammation. 

Given the high likelihood of vitamin D deficiency in PCOS and the important role it plays in hormones like insulin, AMH, and testosterone, it’s worth having your levels checked and addressing vitamin D deficiency appropriately. This can ultimately help with weight loss. 

Side Effects

Potential side effects are usually seen in high doses and may include constipation, gastrointestinal upset, heart palpitations, kidney stones, and kidney disease. 

Typical Dosage & Recommended Vitamin D Brands

Typical dosage will vary based on your vitamin D levels. Most people with PCOS benefit from at least 2000 IU of vitamin D3 daily. I like this vitamin D3 brand for supplementation. It’s best to take vitamin D supplements with food. 

How To Choose The Best PCOS Supplements

Before I wrap this up, I want to touch on a couple of key points about dietary supplements in general. 

  • Dietary supplements are not FDA approved. This means that there isn’t any oversight to ensure that supplement companies are actually putting what they advertise into their supplements. One way to ensure you’re receiving what you think you are is to look for supplement companies that undergo voluntary third party testing of their products. 
  • Natural doesn’t mean harmless. Many supplements will market themselves as a “natural option”. This may be true in one sense, but natural doesn’t necessarily mean that they are harmless. Sometimes “natural options” can have serious negative effects on your overall health.
  • More doesn’t mean better. If you’re struggling and feeling desperate with your PCOS, it can be tempting to try several different supplements at once. The problem is that more doesn’t always mean that they’ll work better for you.
  • Always talk to your healthcare provider first. As stated above, natural doesn’t always mean harmless…and more doesn’t mean better. Many supplements have known interactions that can occur with certain medical conditions or medications. Talk to your healthcare provider before starting any dietary supplements.

The Bottom Line

PCOS is a common hormonal disorder that can cause weight gain. Many people with PCOS have difficulty losing weight because of factors such as insulin resistance, inflammation, high androgen levels, or high cortisol levels. 

Many people are looking for alternatives to traditional prescription medications. Thankfully, there are many dietary supplements that may help. Some of the best supplements for PCOS weight loss are inositol, berberine, alpha lipoic acid, N-acetylcysteine, and vitamin D. 

Always talk to your doctor or healthcare professional before starting any new supplement so that they can verify if it’s a good option for you and your unique medical needs. 

If you’re struggling with where to start, check out my PCOS Supplement Guide for detailed information on over 15 of the most popular supplements for PCOS and how to choose the right path for you!

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Disclaimer: this is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for or replace professional medical advice for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or any other medical condition. Always discuss your medical needs and care with your healthcare provider.

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