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A PCOS Friendly Diet- 4 Things You Should Know

by Lauren Allen on May 28, 2022

1. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day

Research shows that nearly ¼ of the people in the U.S. skip breakfast1. FYI, drinking  a coffee doesn’t count as eating breakfast. Breakfast is not only an important opportunity to start your day off with the nourishment your body needs, but it’s extra important for women with pcos. A study was done on 60 women with PCOS who were split into two groups. One group received a nutrient and calorie dense breakfast every day and the other group had a small, low calorie breakfast with a nutrient and calorie dense dinner. After just 90 days, the women in the nutrient-dense breakfast group had lower levels of insulin, glucose, and testosterone2 (all of which drive those pesky PCOS symptoms like acne, unwanted hair growth, and irregular periods/ovulation). So make sure you’re starting your day with a balanced breakfast that includes protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates! 

2. Refined sugar isn’t your friend…

We are hardwired to love sweets, so this one is tough to hear. But unfortunately, sweets don’t love us back, and this is especially true for women with PCOS. Too much sugar drives insulin resistance, which is present in up to 75% of women with PCOS. Those high insulin levels cause high testosterone levels, which in turn drive your PCOS symptoms and make it difficult to lose weight3. The good news is that as you reduce your sugar intake, your taste buds often get more sensitive, so you’d feel satisfied with just ¼ teaspoon of sugar in your coffee instead of 2 tablespoons. You might even find that fresh fruit totally satisfies your sweet cravings and you don’t feel the need to reach for the baked goods anymore. 


3. But Healthy fats are your BFF

Natural sources of fat such as olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds, are packed with nutrients and stimulate our fullness hormones to turn on when we eat them, helping us feel full and satisfied. Fats don’t spike your blood sugar in the same that sugar and carbohydrates do, so they’re a great source of energy for those of us struggling with insulin resistance or struggling to lose weight. Keep in mind though that not all fats are created equal. Man man polyunsaturated fats like canola oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, and others can actually promote inflammation4, something we definitely want to avoid with PCOS as it exacerbates unwanted symptoms like irregular cycles, acne, infertility, weight struggles, and more. 


4. It Doesn’t Have to Be Restrictive!

There are so many easy, delicious, indulgent recipes that support your body healing from PCOS. Check out our recipe library for healthy versions of your favorite foods and learn how to cook and bake with high quality, nutrient dense ingredients that you’ll love. That being said, it’s okay to occasionally eat foods that don’t support healing from PCOS. We want to create a long term lifestyle that lasts, not go through another round of dieting that’s too hard to maintain. Be gentle with yourself and find your balance between staying committed to healthy habits and also indulging when it feels right for you. In all my years of nutrition coaching, I’ve never had a single client who ate “perfectly” and they still improved their symptoms by making small changes.

[1] Buckner SL, Loprinzi PD, Loenneke JP. Why don't more people eat breakfast? A biological perspective. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016;103(6):1555-1556. doi:10.3945/ajcn.116.132837

[2] Jakubowicz D, Barnea M, Wainstein J, Froy O. Effects of caloric intake timing on insulin resistance and hyperandrogenism in lean women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Clin Sci (Lond). 2013 Nov;125(9):423-32. doi: 10.1042/CS20130071. PMID: 23688334.

[3] Parker J, O'Brien C, Hawrelak J, Gersh FL. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: An Evolutionary Adaptation to Lifestyle and the Environment. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;19(3):1336. Published 2022 Jan 25. doi:10.3390/ijerph19031336

[4] Raphael W, Sordillo LM. Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and inflammation: the role of phospholipid biosynthesis. Int J Mol Sci. 2013;14(10):21167-21188. Published 2013 Oct 22. doi:10.3390/ijms141021167

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