4 Tips for a PCOS-Friendly Diet

You may have heard of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women. PCOS is a reproductive issue caused by a hormone imbalance. It affects about one in 10 women of childbearing age , and it can cause some challenging symptoms: fertility problems, weight gain, hair growth, and more.

I’ve worked with thousands of patients over the past decade, many of whom had PCOS or related hormone imbalances. PCOS can be frustrating, especially if your doctor puts you on conventional treatment like birth control, which masks symptoms without truly addressing the underlying cause.

First, know that it is possible to manage PCOS symptoms with diet and lifestyle changes (2). My first recommendation for my many of my PCOS patients is to take an honest look at their diet. Emphasizing PCOS-friendly foods promotes healthy hormone balance, reduces inflammation, and can help you lose weight–which is often a struggle for my patients who have PCOS. Many conventional doctors recommend weight loss to improve PCOS symptoms, but don’t acknowledge the underlying hormone issues that drive metabolism.

Try following these tips below, and rest-assured that a PCOS diet is full of deliciously nourishing foods to make you feel your best.

1. Cut out sugar and refined carbs

About 70% of PCOS women also have insulin resistance, which is when your cells struggle to regulate insulin and blood sugar properly . Insulin resistance drives weight gain and also makes it very hard to lose weight .

Omitting highly processed carbohydrates and refined sugar is one of the best ways to control your insulin levels and lose weight. Women with PCOS who ate a higher-fat, lower-carb diet saw a more than 30% decrease in their insulin levels, compared to those who ate a higher-carb, lower-fat diet .

Reducing sugar and carb intake is my go-to suggestion for relieving PCOS in women, and it makes the biggest impact for my patients. If you’re going to make one dietary change, choose this one.

Try this for more: A Simple + Effective 5-Day Sugar Detox

2. Eat plenty of protein

Calorie for calorie, protein is the most filling macronutrient–more so than fat or carbs . Protein is also thermogenic, meaning your body burns more energy processing it . High-protein diets are great for weight loss in women without causing hunger , and that weight loss can make a big difference in your PCOS symptoms .

When women come to my practice, one of the most common things I find is that they aren’t eating enough protein. Aim for 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight (for example, 120 grams/day for a 150-lb. person). That may be more protein than you’re used to eating, but it can make a big difference in how you look and feel, especially if you have PCOS.

3. Get more healthy fats

In a 2015 study, women who switched to a low-carb, high-fat diet lost significantly more weight than women eating a higher-carb, low-fat diet . A significant portion of their weight loss was belly fat, and they also maintained muscle mass better than women in the high-carb, low-fat group did. Finally, the low-carb, high-fat group enjoyed more balanced metabolic hormones, which help with both weight loss and PCOS symptoms.

Try replacing carbs–especially refined carbs–with healthy fats. Some of my favorites are:

  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut and oil
  • Grass-fed butter
  • Wild salmon, anchovies, and sardines
  • Grass-fed red meat
  • Raw nuts (macadamia, walnuts)
  • Avocados

Add more of these healthy fats to your diet and see if you notice a difference in your PCOS symptoms.

4. Increase fiber from fresh veggies

Fiber seems to be especially good for PCOS women. Women with PCOS who ate more fiber had lower body fat (especially belly fat and thigh fat) and more stable insulin levels than those who ate less fiber .

The same correlation didn’t show up for women without PCOS, which suggests that fiber may be particularly helpful if you have PCOS.

Fresh vegetables and low-sugar fruits are the best sources of fiber. They’re also packed with anti-inflammatory compounds and micronutrients.

Aim for 6-10 servings of vegetables and low-sugar fruits a day. Good options are:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Chard
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Fennel
  • Zucchini
  • Cabbage
  • Peppers
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Strawberries

PCOS Women: Eat healthier, feel better

For PCOS relief, the best place to start is diet. Try these four dietary changes and see how you feel. If you’re struggling to stick to a healthier diet, don’t beat yourself up! Change is hard. Start with any one of the four strategies in this article, then add another once you feel comfortable with the first. Slow, steady changes in your day-to-day life can lead to massive improvement over time.

Feeling out of balance and aren’t sure where to start? Take the Power Type Quiz for your personalized Power Rx.


    1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17304034
    2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25200687
    3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27510482
    4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5487935/
    5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27910718
    6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4960974/
    7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17824197
    8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5644969/
    9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22158730
    10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25527677
    11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30449604