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What is a PCOS Diet Plan?

By C. Sadowska
Updated May 17, 2024
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It is estimated that polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) affects 5 to 10 percent of women worldwide. This condition causes a woman’s ovaries to produce numerous follicles each month but a dominant follicle does not go on to produce an egg. A PCOS diet plan focuses on fruits and vegetables, foods that are high in fiber, and foods containing unsaturated fats. The diet may also require an overall decrease in calories. Following the PCOS diet may help some women with polycystic ovarian syndrome to reduce their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.

Common symptoms of PCOS include irregular menstrual periods, high blood pressure, weight gain, and increased hair growth. It is thought to be one of the leading causes of infertility. PCOS is also marked by an insulin resistance — the body’s inability to regulate blood sugar. For this reason, many women with PCOS struggle to manage their weight.

In a lot of ways, a PCOS diet plan is similar to the Mediterranean diet. It should contain plenty of foods rich in monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish. Most meals typically should be built around lots of vegetables and fruits. Women on a PCOS diet plan should also try to limit foods high in saturated fats, such as red meat, whole milk, and fried foods.

Most women on a PCOS diet will want to reduce their consumption of carbohydrates as well. They should not eat carbohydrates alone but try to consistently pair them with good sources of protein. It is also best to avoid simple carbohydrates such as pasta, white bread, and other foods made from white flour.

Foods rich in soluble fiber may help to control blood sugar. Whole-grain breads and pastas are a good source of fiber and an alternative to simple carbohydrates. Apples, brown rice, and oats are also all good sources of soluble fiber and can be a part of a PCOS diet plan. Beans are a versatile food that can be used to build a variety of healthy and fiber-rich meals.

The majority of doctors and scientists agree that there is no cure for PCOS. It is critical for women with PCOS to discuss the condition with doctors in order to understand what options are available and what can be done to improve their health. By following a PCOS diet plan and working to maintain a healthy weight, some women with PCOS may be able to improve their health and control their symptoms.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Kat919 — On Apr 19, 2012

@MrsWinslow - Did you read that in the Newsweek Fertility Diet article? That's where I came across it. I do not have PCOS but I did have a lot of trouble getting pregnant, and cutting out low-fat dairy was one of the things I tried.

I like that the article mentions beans, because another thing that the Newsweek article found was that replacing animal protein (meat; eggs and fish seemed to be OK) with plant protein (beans, nuts, etc.) seemed to really help prevent ovulatory infertility.

So one of my favorite trying-to-conceive meals, which I think would also work well for a PCOS meal plan, was a burrito made with lots of salsa and fat-free refried beans, wrapped in a whole-wheat tortilla. I would then add just a *little touch* of real cheese and whole milk sour cream. Yum!

By MrsWinslow — On Apr 18, 2012

There's something I want to point out for anyone whose diet plan for PCOS is geared at getting pregnant as well as losing weight. The article mentions that you shouldn't have too much whole-milk dairy, and they are absolutely right.

*But*... low-fat and fat-free dairy have been associated with ovulatory infertility, which is a problem for us ladies with PCOS. So really, you have to cut down on dairy altogether!

I stopped putting skim milk on my cereal and started using unsweetened almond milk, for instance. It has a very pleasant taste, I find, and is even lower in calories. Apparently, you want to avoid low-fat and fat-free dairy, and have just a few servings a week of whole milk dairy.

By anon226228 — On Oct 30, 2011

I agree with the suggested diet. It is indeed the Mediterranean diet that has been around for thousands of years.

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