PCOS Diet Tips

PCOS is one of the most prevalent endocrine disorders amongst females, afflicting as many as 10% of all women. The symptoms are often frustrating and painful, but more importantly, the disorder can prevent a woman from getting pregnant. Though PCOS is quite common, scientists have yet to discover what causes it or how to cure it. In many cases, however, symptoms can be greatly reduced by adopting an appropriate diet and increasing physical activity.

Many women with PCOS also struggle with excess weight or obesity, thus, one of the major recommendations for women with PCOS is weight loss. In fact, a mere 5% decrease in body weight has been shown to reduce overall PCOS symptoms and increase fertility. Of course, not all women with PCOS struggle with overweight; however, maintaining the right diet still plays a major role in combatting PCOS symptoms.

“Diet” Right

When we talk about diet, we are not talking about deprivation. If fertility is your goal, proper nourishment is vital. A PCOS diet simply means eating the right things and cutting out the foods that are detrimental to your healing and fertility.

Control your Blood Sugar

Insulin resistance is a common factor of PCOS. Insulin is the hormone that gets glucose, or sugar, from your blood to your cells. Insulin resistance causes the pancreas to produce more and more insulin, increasing your risk of high blood sugar. Not only may this contribute to the hormonal imbalances of PCOS, but (if left unmanaged), this can develop into Type 2 Diabetes.

This is the primary factor that must be considered when planning your PCOS diet. You can control your blood sugar levels to a great degree by:

1. Picking your Carbs Wisely

Of course, it’s extremely important to cut out quick burning foods like white breads and pastas, sugary foods and high-carb starches like potatoes and corn. Instead, stick to whole grains like oatmeal and brown rice, along with low-carb vegetables like spinach, leafy greens, broccoli, and peppers.

Women at a healthy weight should keep carbohydrate consumption to about 50% of their daily diet. Overweight women, however, should minimize intake to 40% or less. In addition, it’s a good practice to space out carb consumption throughout the day so that your body can more easily process it.

2. Eating the Right Proteins

Pairing your carbs with lean proteins will further help your body to process them properly. Fats and proteins will temper the breakdown of the carbs consumed, slowing the release of glucose into the bloodstream.

This doesn’t mean that you need to eat an excessive amount of protein. Simply consume normal amounts of lean proteins like poultry, fish, lean meats, seeds, nuts, and beans.

3. Restricting Saturated Fats

Do note though, that low-carb diets often contain excess amounts of fat. Some fat in your diet is important, but it’s best to minimize saturated fats and animal proteins that are high in fat. Again, choose lean proteins and incorporate more plant proteins like beans, lentils and soy.

4. Minimizing Sugar Consumption

Obviously, refined sugars should be eliminated altogether (or greatly minimized). Cakes, candy and other junk foods cause serious spikes in insulin while providing your body with little to no real nutrition.

In Summary

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, don’t be. Simply summarized, eat small meals every three to five hours to

keep your blood sugar at a healthy level, and fill your plate with veggies and lean protein, keeping (wisely selected) carbs in controlled portions. Adopting a PCOS diet may take a little adjustment, but you’ll definitely see the benefits – not only in your PCOS symptoms, but in your overall health as well.


2 Responses to PCOS Diet

  1. Caroline on January 13, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    You briefly mention physical activity as being beneficial to PCOS sufferers. I’m wondering if this is primarily weight related or if there are other good reasons to increase physical activity. Obviously, I know that exercise is a healthy habit in general, but I’m just interested in understanding a little more about how it relates directly to PCOS. Could you explain this aspect further?

  2. Jennifer Myers on January 25, 2013 at 12:10 am

    Hi Caroline,

    Whether you’re looking to lose weight or not, exercise is a big part of preparing your body for fertility and conception. Obviously, the weight factor plays a big role in PCOS, and dropping excess pounds can do wonders to regulate your hormones and boost fertility. Aside from the weight factor though, there are numerous other reasons why regular exercise is a great accompaniment to a PCOS diet.

    Exercise will not only help you lose weight, but it can help to regulate your blood glucose levels – something very important if you’re dealing with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. Exercise strengthens your muscles and gets your body in top physical shape for carrying a baby, and that high level of fitness will definitely make it easier to carry a baby to full term and have a smooth delivery.

    Hope this helps,