PCOS Diet Plan – Foods Chart, Symptoms, Causes & Weight Loss


January 27, 2023

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine system disorder that affects a woman’s hormone level. Women with PCOS produce more-than-normal levels of male hormones, which causes a hormonal imbalance that leads to several health issues.

PCOS affects women more particularly during their child-bearing age. This hormonal imbalance causes women to miss menstrual periods, making it difficult to conceive. It can also lead to long-term health issues like diabetes and heart disease.

Postmenopausal women with PCOS, especially those with diabetes, are at a high risk of developing clinical cardiac disease. What’s surprising is that 70 per cent of women who have PCOS are not aware of the issue until it comes out as a life-altering truth.

This article talks about the symptoms, causes and other related aspects to help females identify PCOS and take measures that can help them. 

Symptoms Of PCOS

There are a number of symptoms that indicate that a woman has been affected by PCOS. Let us look at a few of them.

1. Irregular periods

The average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, but anything between 21 and 35 days is considered normal. Cycles lasting eight or fewer per year, or more than 35 days, are considered irregular periods.

Irregular or scarce periods are the first sign of PCOD. Furthermore, since the periods are irregular, the build-up of the uterine wall is more. This leads to heavier bleeding whenever the periods happen.

Sometimes, there can be regular periods, but with scanty blood flow lasting only for two days. Pay acute attention to your monthly cycle to detect PCOS. 

2. Hair growth

Hirsutism is the condition of excessive hair growth on the face. In PCOD, ovaries secrete a huge amount of male hormone androgens and this leads to excessive hair growth in women. Furthermore, research has shown that hirsutism is one of the most reliable clinical markers of PCOD. 

3. Acne

Studies have proved that the hormonal imbalance caused by PCOD, produces excessive amounts of sebum on the skin leading to acne. Women suffering from PCOD may suffer from severe cystic acne. Cystic acne is deep red and large breakouts of the skin that tend to be concentrated in the hormonally sensitive areas of your face such as cheeks, jawline, chin and upper neck. 

4. Weight gain

If you’re suffering from PCOS, your body will over-produce insulin in an attempt to maintain a normal blood sugar level, and this frequently leads to more androgen (male hormones) production and subsequent weight gain. 

5. Baldness

Women affected by PCOS lose hair due to high levels of androgen. In fact, their baldness will be similar to that of males such as receding frontal hairline or thinning of the scalp. 

6. Skin Darkening 

Darkened, velvety swaths of dark brown that most often develop on the nape of the neck, armpits, inner thighs, or under the breasts is another common sign of PCOD.This is again caused by the high level of insulin in the body and its attempt to use it appropriately.

Are these symptoms conclusive evidence to prove that a woman has been affected by PCOS?

People cannot come to a straightforward conclusion that women with some or even all of the above symptoms have been affected by PCOS. Furthermore, there is no particular test to confirm PCOS.

Your doctor will discuss your medical history and perform a physical examination to come to a conclusion They may then recommend a pelvic examination, blood tests to quantify hormone levels, and an ultrasound to check the appearance of your ovaries and the uterus.

But even if the doctors have confirmed PCOS, women need not give up hope because there are very good treatments for the problem. Of course, affected women should make some changes in their lifestyle and follow the PCOS diet plan.

If they consistently follow the PCOS diet and exercise meticulously, they can manage the issue and lead a healthy life and even have normal pregnancies. 

Causes Of  PCOS

There are various factors that may cause a woman’s body to slip into the hormonal imbalance that causes PCOS. Let’s delve into the top 3 factors that cause PCOS separately

1. Genes

Several studies have been conducted to prove that PCOS is a genetic disorder. The findings reveal that if the mother or grandmothers have had PCOS the daughter or granddaughter is also likely to be affected by it.

However, it must be noted that it is not a single gene that can be held responsible for PCOS. A number of genes work together for this condition.

2. Insulin resistance

Studies conducted on a number of women affected by PCOS show concurrent problems of insulin resistance. Conversely put, the chances of those with the problem of insulin resistance getting affected by PCOS are high.

The reason is that the body cells of women affected by PCOS do not use insulin properly. If insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas, does not help the body use the sugar in the foods they consume, their body will always be in need of insulin. Therefore, the pancreas will over-work and secrete more amount of insulin.

Due to this extra insulin, ovaries produce higher amounts of male hormones that dominate the body, thereby causing severe symptoms and finally resulting in PCOS. Overweight or obesity is yet another factor that may cause insulin resistance.

3. Inflammation

Inflammation in women has strong links with higher levels of the male hormone androgen. In other words, higher levels of male hormones will cause inflammation, and hence, women with PCOS are likely to suffer from inflammation as well. Obesity and excess body weight can cause inflammation also.

PCOS Diet – Foods To Eat and Avoid

Women affected by PCOS should add liberal amounts of high-fibre foods to their diet. High-fibre foods will help in overcoming the problem of insulin resistance by aiding the the digestion process and reducing the negative effects of sugar on the system. 

Some high-fibre foods one can eat in abundant quantities are cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, greens that include spinach, lettuce, green and red bell peppers; beans, lentils, berries, squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins.

Women with PCOS should also opt for anti-inflammatory spices and foods such as tomatoes, turmeric, kale, almonds, walnuts, olive oil etc. Fruits like strawberries and blueberries can be beneficial and can reduce inflammation as well. 

Food with a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids can also be beneficial for affected women. Some examples of such foods are fish like sardines, salmon and mackerel.

Foods To Avoid on PCOS Diet

In general, women on a PCOS diet should avoid foods that are widely considered unhealthy. These are some examples:

  • Refined carbohydrates such as mass-produced pastries and white bread.
  • Fried foods, including fast food.
  • Sodas and energy drinks and other sugary beverages.
  • Hot dogs, sausages, and luncheon meats are examples of processed meats.
  • Margarine, shortening, and lard are examples of solid fats.
  • Excessive consumption of red meat such as steaks, hamburgers, and pork causes inflammation. 

These foods will increase insulin resistance leading to the problems mentioned above. Therefore, affected women should try to avoid or restrict eating these items to a considerable extent

Diet Plan For Women Affected By PCOS

Given below are a few tips that women affected by PCOS can follow.

  1. Make sure to eat a nutritious breakfast excluding high carbohydrates or inflammation-causing ingredients. Skipping breakfast can induce you to over-eat during the mid-day meal and hence cause an insulin spike.
  2. Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly as this would improve digestion and reduce the chances of insulin resistance and subsequent weight gain.
  3. Finish your dinner at least 2 hours before bed. Delayed dinners will lead to indigestion and cause disturbed sleep. This may bring down the ability of the body to repair itself.
  4. Its is advisable for women with PCOS to follow a set diet plan that ensures weight management. Split large meals into smaller portions and eat every two hours. This is a proven method that can help in maintaining weight. 

7 Day Sample PCOS Diet Chart Plan For Lose Weight

S. NoMonTueWedTheFriSatSun
On Waking (within1 Tbsp of DhanyaLemon water withOvernight soaked1 Tbsp of AppleJeera seeds and aLemon water withNatural Aloe vera
30 min of waking)powder + 1 tbsp ofa pinch ofmethi seedsCider Vinegar inpinch ofa pinch ofextract -200 ml
 Coriander powderCinnamonwater,200 ml warmCinnamon in 200Cinnamon 
 in 200 ml of warm chew methi seedswaterml warm water  
 water after    
Breakfast (within 2I big bowl of Oats1 big bowl of3 egg omelette (11 Katori of PaneerI big bowl of Oats3 egg omelette (12 Idli’s + 1 bowl of
hours of waking)in Skimmed milkDaliya in skimmedfull egg and 2 eggPoha with Veg + 1in Skimmed milkfull egg and 2 eggSambar + 1-2
 with 1 seasonalmilk + 1 seasonalwhites) + 2 sliceskatori of Dahiwith 1 seasonalwhites) + 2 slicesTbsp of Chutney
 fruit + 1-2 roughlyfruit + 1 tsp ofof whole wheat fruit + 3-4 blackof whole wheat 
 chopped figsJaggerytoast + 1 glass of raisins for garnish.toast + 1 glass of 
   milk  milk 
Mid-Morning (11Green Tea/ IndianSeasonal Fruit/ 1Coconut water/ 11 slice of toastIndian MasalaCoconut water/ 1Seasonal Fruit/ 1
am)Masala Tea/bowl of Curds withtall glass ofwith avocadoTea/ Green Tea/tall glass ofbowl of Curds with
 Seasonal Fruit1 tsp of Chiabuttermilk with 1spread + 1 cup ofSeasonal Fruitbuttermilk with 11 tsp of Chia
  seedstsp of flaxseedherbal tea tsp of flaxseedseeds
   powder  powder 
Lunch (12:30-1:301 Katori of Brown2 whole wheat1 Katori of Brown2 Multigrain Roti +1 Katori of Brown1 Katori of1 Katori of
pm)Rice + 1 cup ofRotis + 1 cup ofRice + 1 cup of1 cup of SproutsRice + 1 cup ofVegetable Pulao +Vegetable Khichdi
 Rajma + 1 Cup ofTomato andChole + 1 Cup ofcurry + 1 Cup ofLobhia + 1 Cup of1 Katori of+ 1 cup of
 salad + 100 gcapsicum Sabzi +saladsalad + 1 cup ofsaladCucumber Raithacucumber Raitha
 Sautéed Paneer1 cup of salad + 3 homemade curds   
  Tbsp of     
  homemade curds     
Mid-evening1 Fistful of mixed1 Seasonal Fruit +1 small bowl of1 Fistful of mixed1 Seasonal Fruit +1 slice of toast1 Fistful of mixed
(Between 5-6 pm)nuts (2 Walnuts +2 almonds + 1Makhane + 1 cupnuts (2 Walnuts +2 almonds + 1with Peanut butternuts (2 Walnuts +
 3 almonds + 2Hazelnut + 1 Cupof Herbal tea3 almonds + 2Hazelnut + 1 Cup+ 1 cup of3 almonds + 2
 Pista + 1 Brazilof Herbal Tea Pista + 1 Brazilof Herbal TeaHibiscus TeaPista + 1 Brazil
 Nut) + 1 Cup of  Nut) + 1 Cup of  Nut) + 1 Cup of
 Green OR Herbal  Green OR Herbal  Green OR Herbal
 Tea  Tea  Tea
S. NoMonTueWedTheFriSatSun
Dinner (by 7 pm)1/2 Katori of2 whole wheat2 Raagi Chapathi1 bowl of ChickenTuna Salad with1/2 Katori ofI bowl of pumpkin
 Brown Rice + 1/2Roti + 1 cup of+ 1/2 katoriSoup with 1 cupLettuce saladVegetable Pulao +soup + 100 g
 katori of Rajma +seasonalChole + 1 cup ofLettuce Salad andcherry tomatoes1 Katori ofgrilled chicken + 1
 1 Cup of saladvegetable + 1 cupcucumber Saladcucumbersand OlivesCucumber Raithacup of Lettuce and
  of salad    cucumber salad
Bed-timeChamomile teaChamomile teaChamomile teaChamomile teaChamomile teaChamomile teaChamomile tea

Lifestyle Modifications For Women With PCOS

  1. Give importance to physical activities. Experts suggest that women with PCOS should do at least 150 minutes of exercise or workouts every week. This means roughly 30 mins of exercise per day.
  1. Get sufficient sleep. Sleep-deprived individuals have a tendency to overeat the following day. This gradually leads to obesity or overweight.
  1. Learn to manage your stress levels. Stress is another factor that may increase insulin resistance and cause type 2 diabetes. Experts suggest yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises for better stress management.
    Read more: Best Exercises For Stress Relief
  1. Remember to never lose self-confidence. The medical world has been coming out with several the best ever innovations and we’re not too far away from a sure-shot treatment for PCOS. Until then, healthy dietary and lifestyle decisions are the way to go!

The HealthifyMe Note

The bottom line is that PCOS can be cured by making conscious efforts to boost one’s metabolic health. Metabolic health, simply put, is the absence of metabolic diseases. A good metabolism prevents you from health concerns like high blood sugar, high blood pressure, obesity, fatty liver, kidney issues, cholesterol, etc. Maintaining your metabolic health would require you to know your health parameters thoroughly and regularly. For example, it requires checking your glucose level, weight, body mass and fat content. Technology helps monitor your health parameters and gives you a space to discuss with your health coach and trainer.

HealthifyPro is a complete package that comes with a smart scale, CGM solution, metabolic panel and pro coach access to keep a tab on your progress. It also offers smart AI assistance at your fingertips.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How can I reduce my PCOS fast?

A. PCOS can be reduced by conscious dietary and lifestyle modifications. Make sure to eat a well-balanced breakfast excluding high carbohydrates or inflammation-causing ingredients.  Split large meals into smaller portions and eat every two hours. Eat slowly to reduce the chances of insulin resistance. Have your dinner at least 2 hours before bed. Do at least 30 mins of physical activity every day and get sufficient sleep. 

2. How can I solve PCOS naturally?

PCOS is caused by hormonal imbalances in the body and can be naturally restrained. Diet is one of the most important factors to help get rid of PCOS symptoms. Never skip breakfast and ensure it’s nutritious. Avoid all kinds of foods that may cause insulin spikes or inflammation. Chew your food thoroughly for improved digestion and weight management. Eat smaller meals every two hours instead of three large ones. Get proper sleep and avoid stress. Engage in physical activities for weight and stress management. 

3. Can PCOS be controlled?

Yes, PCOS can be largely controlled. All you have to do is keep a check on what you eat and how it affects your body. Avoid refined carbohydrates such as mass-produced pastries and white bread, fried foods, including fast food Sodas and energy drinks and other sugary beverages should be off your list. All these foods cause insulin resistance and worsen the condition of PCOS.  Consumption of red meat inflammation, such as steaks, hamburgers, and pork should also be kept in moderation. 

4. What exercise is best for PCOS?

Moderate exercise benefits women with PCOS immensely. For example, walking 30 minutes 3 days a week can help you lose weight and manage your insulin level. Practising moderate exercise routines gets your heart pumping at around 50 to 70% of your maximal heart rate. Walking, riding a bicycle, dancing, or taking an aerobics class would be best. If you are short on time, investing in a mat and a pair of well-cushioned shoes will help you engage in spot jogging in the comfort of your home. 

5. Is Egg good for PCOS?

Yes eggs are excellent for women with PCOS. They help provide the necessary protein, iron, omega 3 fatty acid, etc that improve PCOS symptoms. 

6. What is the best age to get pregnant with PCOS?

Women with PCOS have been observed to experience a delayed reduction in their fertility level as compared to the others. Given this, the most fertile years for a female with PCOS are roughly between 22-40 of age. 

7. Can PCOS be cured with exercise?

Exercise alone will not treat PCOS, but when accompanied by a diet rich in proteins, minerals, vitamins, and calcium, it can help you lose weight in a healthy way. Losing even a little percentage of your body weight can help reduce your PCOS risk.

8. Can PCOS go away with weight loss?

Weight loss surely helps with PCOS symptoms like the regularity of periods. Furthermore, a decrease in weight improves insulin sensitivity causing a positive ripple effect. 

9. Can I lose weight with PCOS?

Yes, you can lose weight with PCOS. Even though the result may be slightly delayed  as compared to those who aren’t, consistency is the key. Furthermore, losing weight while suffering from PCOS benefits its symptoms and creates a positive feedback loop wherein the body’s insulin sensitivity and hormonal balance improve. 

10. Can PCOS be cured by yoga?

Regular yoga practice may help to alleviate PCOS symptoms. Performing yoga lowers the levels of male hormones in the female body. Weight gain is a factor responsible for PCOS. Yoga aids in weight reduction by boosting metabolic processes. It enhances the BMR in the body and stimulates calorie burning in the body. Additionally, it reduced PCOS-induced stress, anxiety and depression. It reduces pressure by stimulating de-stressing hormones and relaxing the body. Reducing stress hormones reduces oxidative stress in the body.

11. What fruits are good for PCOS?

Fruits like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, apples, berries, pears, oranges, figs, and kiwi. are good for PCOS as they help reduce inflammation. 

12. Is banana good for PCOS?

Bananas are abundant in potassium and low in sugar, making them ideal for those with PCOS. Hyperinsulinemia can be a problem for those with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, thus foods with a good balance of protein and carbs, such as bananas, can assist. 

13. How do you get periods if you have PCOS?

Those with PCOS generally have irregular or infrequent periods. This needs to be corrected, and one of the key ways is following the ‘seed cycling’ method. Consuming 1 tsp of seeds like sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds and chia seeds should be consumed alternatively to help better the hormone balance thus the frequency and regularity of periods

14. Is coffee good for PCOS?

No coffee is not advisable for women suffering from PCOS. It can disturb the already imbalanced hormonal levels and even interfere with the nutrient absorption capacity of the body. 

  1. Polycystic ovarian syndrome in patients with hair thinning – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8291365/
  1. Correlations between acne and polycystic ovary – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11319503/
  2. Genetic Basis of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Current Perspectives –  https://bit.ly/3ILfCnW
  1. Insulin resistance and the polycystic ovary syndrome: mechanism and implications for pathogenesis – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9408743/

About the Author

Nahida is a registered dietician with 9 years of experience, working extensively with individuals dealing with obesity, diabetes, thyroid and PCOD. In addition, she has worked with NGOs supporting cancer patients by providing them with nutritional counseling. After completing her post-graduation in Dietetics & Applied Nutrition from Mumbai University, she went on to finish her MBA in Healthcare Services. Nahida is also a certified diabetes educator from International Diabetes Center. Currently a Sr. Nutritionist with HealthifyMe, Nahida is looking forward to let people take their weight off their mind and body by enjoying the journey.

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4 responses to “PCOS Diet Plan – Foods Chart, Symptoms, Causes & Weight Loss”

  1. This article made me feel confident about myself. Thanks a lot. Although, I would like to know if I manage my weight and stress levels then will I start getting periods regularly and be cured of it altogether?

  2. Great article.. Helped me understand more about PCOS and most importantly, how that can be tackled.
    Thank you !!

  3. Is there anyway a college student can overcome her PCOS troubles with the help of your app, if she stays at hostel?

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