What is the best diet to manage my PCOS?

We’re not here to talk about what fad diet is the best here. But diet (or your pattern of eating) and exercise are an important part of managing PCOS. Women with PCOS have higher levels of insulin resistance which makes it easier to gain weight and more difficult to lose weight. To emphasize, eating a diet that is high in fiber and low in sugar can help combat insulin resistance effects on the body.

Tips on Eating with PCOS

Let’s go over examples of foods that you can eat at every meal of the day that are nutritious, conscious of carbohydrate intake and will keep you fuller, longer!

 healthy eating

1. Monitor how much carbohydrate you eat at each meal

We typically recommend carbohydrate intake per meal to fall between 45-60 grams, but this number will vary depending on the person. We also recommend eating breakfast! Skipping meals may set you up for a rollercoaster of cravings throughout the rest of the day. Here are a few breakfast examples that fall within 45 grams of carbs.

Option 1: 45 grams of carbs

  • 1 cup cooked old-fashioned or steel-cut oatmeal
  • 1 TBSP chopped walnuts
  • 2 TBSP dried cranberries or raisins

Option 2: 45 grams of carbs

  • One whole wheat English muffin
  • 1 TBSP peanut or other nut butter
  • 8 oz milk (1% or skim) or alternative dairy

Option 3: 45 grams of carbs

  • ¾ cup dry, whole grain cereal
  • 2 TBSP dried fruit
  • one hard-boiled egg
  • 8 oz milk (1% or skim) or alternative dairy


2. Add protein!

While keeping your carbohydrate intake between 45-60 grams of carbs, add a good source of protein to slow down digestion, keep your blood sugars stable, and keep you feeling full longer! Here are a few lunch examples that are a good balance of carbohydrate and protein.

Option 1: 45 grams of carbs

  • salad with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers
  • 3 oz grilled chicken
  • ½ cup kidney or garbanzo beans
  • 2 TBSP low-fat dressing
  • half (6-inch) whole wheat pita
  • one apple

Option 2: 45-60 grams of carbs

  • one small (6-inch) whole wheat sub roll
  • 3 oz. turkey, ham, or roast beef
  • lettuce, tomato, onions and peppers (as desired)
  • 1-2 teaspoons mustard or low-fat mayo
  • 8 oz. milk or alternative dairy milk

Option 3: 60 grams of carbs

  • 2 cups bean soup (lentil, pea, black bean)
  • one small roll
  • two plums
  • water or cal-free drink

Click here for a delicious PCOS friendly sweet potato chili recipe!

3. Make sure you get enough fiber!

Mentally divide your plate into quarters. In order to reach your fiber goal, a good rule of thumb is to fill a quarter of your plate with a high fiber carbohydrate like brown rice, quinoa, whole grain bread, potatoes, etc. Fill two quarters of the plate with nonstarchy vegetables! The last quarter of the plate is for your protein (seafood, poultry, lean meat, tofu, beans, etc). Finally, add a little fat for satiety (avocado, nuts, seeds, cheese, oil, etc.).

Option 1: 60 grams

  • 3-4 oz grilled/stir-fried shrimp
  • 2/3 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup sautéed green beens
  • 1/2 cup black or kidney beans
  • water or cal-free beverage
  • 12 cherries

Option 2: 45 grams of carbs

  • 2 cups beef stew (made with lean beef, carrots, potatoes and other veggies)
  • one cup steamed broccoli
  • 1 cup grapes or 1 medium apple with 1 Tbsp nut butter

Recipes for Eating with PCOS

Almond crusted chicken: This is a great method for a crispy piece of chicken, that is a lower glycemic choice than traditional breadcrumbs, plus a great addition of heart healthy fat and fiber! 

easy healthy chicken recipe best diet for pcos

Photo by Klara Knezevic

Lentil curry: If you haven’t given lentils a try, this is the time to do it! Lentils are a great plan-based protein with lots of fiber, and the curry makes it super flavorful! 

10 minute recipe

Hummus: We talked earlier about balancing carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Hummus is a great snack because it’s a good source of fat and fiber. Pair it with crunchy veggies, crackers, or pita for a satisfying snack. 

best diet for pcos hummus

For more information on PCOS or to develop a personalized meal plan, visit us at www.rbitzer.com

Blog updated February 2020

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