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PCOS Diet Vs. Normal Diet

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I recently came across a piece of research that made me SO excited and I just have to share it with you as it could completely transform how you manage your PCOS. Now this research is a gem, a treasure to be looked after and worn close to your heart. It confirms that you don’t have to be a victim of PCOS but that you do have some power and control over what happens with your body. Are you ready for this?

The Gem

Diet and lifestyle changes are more effective than Clomid and Metformin in managing PCOS (1). I have always firmly believed this but to see it in black and white, evidenced in medical and scientific journals, validates my own approach to managing my PCOS. Researchers compared the effectiveness of Clomid, Metformin, Clomid combined with Metformin, and Lifestyle changes. They measured pregnancy rates and found that Clomid had a 12.5% pregnancy rate with Metformin being 14.4% and the Clomid and Metformin rate was 14.8%. Here is the amazing thing: Diet and lifestyle changes resulted in a 20% pregnancy rate! This is HUGE and so exciting.

Well, you might say that you aren’t trying to conceive. Why is this relevant for you? Pregnancy rates confirm that a woman has ovulated and if ovulation has occurred, hormones are probably balanced, testosterone levels have dropped and insulin is probably more under control. If that were to carry on over the long term, you can bet that weight loss, decrease in excess hair and improvements in acne are just around the corner. Sounds good, doesn’t it?!

Right, we have established that diet changes are key to managing PCOS. But just how should we be eating and what should our diet look like? Is it enough to eat a healthy diet or even follow a weight loss program? Will that help us manage our PCOS symptoms? Let’s try and answer these questions by looking at a sample Weight Watchers meal plan and a meal plan tailored to treat PCOS.

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The PCOS Diet Vs. a Normal Diet

Let’s have a look at what we might perceive to be a healthy diet as well as what some of the popular weight loss programs recommend. Before we get on to this, I want to make it clear that I am not against Weight Watchers or any other diet plan. I have tried Weight Watchers myself and enjoyed the program while I was on it. I am simply using Weight Watchers to illustrate a point.

Sample Weight Watchers Meal Plan

Before we get into the details of the meal plans, you’ll see that the sample Weight Watchers Meal Plans amounts to 909 calories per day. This is generally very low and not something that I would recommend myself. In the PCOS diet comparison, I have used similar caloric values as Weight Watchers to illustrate the difference in carbohydrate content and GL of both diets.

Here is a sample 1 day meal plan from Weight Watchers:

  • Breakfast: Crumpets with banana and honey – A toasted crumpet topped with 2 heaped tsps clear honey and a sliced banana.
  • Lunch: Cheesy Jacket Potato – Small jacket potato filled with 1 tbsp plain cottage cheese, mixed with chopped chives and spring onions. Serve with chopped cucumber and tomato on the side.
  • Dinner: Penne with Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes – Serve this hot or cold with a green side salad.

It looks great and sounds healthy enough, doesn’t it. But what if you have PCOS? Let’s take it meal by meal and consider what is happening with your hormones with these meals:

Breakfast: Crumpets with banana and honey

Crumpets are similar to a thick pancake made with yeast. Here is the nutritional break down of this meal:
WW breakfast

A glycemic load of 45 is HUGE and will cause a significant spike in your insulin levels. This will in turn cause your testosterone levels to rise and your PCOS symptoms will remain out of control. Also, as there is very little protein in this meal, your blood sugars are likely to crash, leading to cravings and needing to snack soon after this meal.

Lunch: Cheesy Jacket Potato

WW breakfast
The nutrition data for lunch looks good in terms of glycemic load. My only concern is that a significant percentage of the calories are coming from carbohydrates and the cheese is a concern as cheese tends to cause insulin levels to rise higher than we would expect based on it’s carbohydrate content.

Dinner: Penna pasta with spinach and sun dried tomatoes

WW breakfast
Dinner is another carbohydrate heavy meal with a glycemic value of 29 and a huge percentage of the calories coming from carbs. Your PCOS will not thank you for this meal, even though it seems very healthy and low in calories.

Can you see how these meals are thought to be healthy, and for the average women, would be. But women with PCOS have very different dietary needs to the average population and it is vital that we consider our specific needs when it comes to diets and foods. Although you may lose some weight on a plan like this as the calories are restricted, you may not lose as much as you could lose following a tailored PCOS diet and your symptoms will not be as well managed.

A Meal Plan tailored to suit a PCOS Diet

Now let’s have a look at a sample meal plan using PCOS friendly recipes.

  • Breakfast: Avocado and Raspberry Smoothie.
  • Lunch: Spiced Lentil, Walnut and Spinach Loaf, served with a green salad.
  • Dinner: Vegetable Stir fry with Cashews

Breakfast: Avocado and raspberry smoothie

WW breakfast
Whilst this smoothie may be high in fats, they are healthy fats, the building blocks of all of your hormones and are essential to your diet. This smoothie also has a low glycemic load and good balance of nutrients to get your day started. You’re unlikely to have a huge crash in your blood sugars which will really help to combat your carb cravings.

Lunch: Spiced Lentil, Spinach and Walnut Loaf served with a green salad

WW breakfast
Again, there is a better distribution of nutrients and a low glycemic load. The protein and fibre will help to keep you fuller for longer and will also regulate the metabolism of carbs, leading to a slower, more gentle rise in insulin levels. This will be kinder to your testosterone levels and this meal is therefore helpful for your PCOS symptoms.

Dinner: Vegetable stir fry with cashews

WW breakfast

Look at all of those amazing nutrients in this meal and the inflammation factor. Your body will literally be thanking you for this meal! Again, the glycemic load is low and there is a good balance of fats, carbs and proteins.

Totals for the Day

Weight Watchers Meal Plan

  • Total Calories: 909
  • Total Carbs: 177g
  • Glycemic Load: 92

Tailored PCOS Meal Plan

  • Total Calories: 898
  • Total Carbs: 94g
  • Glycemic Load: 34

 

Summing It Up

There is a difference of 11 calories (that’s the equivalent of 1 strawberry) in both of these meal plans. But the glycemic load of the PCOS meal plan is nearly a third of the Weight Watchers one and the carbohydrates are nearly half. I can guarantee you that you will lose more weight, have improved PCOS symptoms and better energy levels by following a meal plan tailored for your PCOS than you will by following a generic weight loss programme.

So, let’s sum up some of the key points of a healthy PCOS diet:

  • You need to manage your insulin levels to manage your testosterone and your PCOS symptoms.
  • Make sure you have a good balance of carbs, protein and fats.
  • Avoid highly refined foods and go for lower GI options.
  • Dairy is a no-no (find out more here).
  • No added sugar and if possible avoid sweeteners as these have been shown to raise insulin levels (3) even though they have a very low caloric value.
  • Focus on all of the amazing vegetables, lean meats and whole foods you can eat.

You may think this kind of diet is restrictive at first, but when you start to feel your energy levels rise, your PCOS symptoms improve and the weight finally begin to shift, you will love that your food has literally become your medicine. It does take effort to prepare healthy meals but I would rather spend time cooking amazing meals that will beat my PCOS than grab a quick take away and suffer the effects on my weight, skin and fertility.

Remember that following a tailored PCOS diet and exercising regularly is more effective than medication for managing your PCOS!

If you need any recipe ideas or help with making these changes to your diet, PCOS Foodies gives you all of the information and support that you need to make those changes. Check it out!

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Tarryn Poulton

Tarryn Poulton

Tarryn Poulton is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and PCOS expert who has been a leader in the online PCOS space for over 8 years. Tarryn has the support of leading clinicians from around the world who support her scientific approach to understanding and talking about PCOS this includes all medical journals and ongoing research. You can read more about Tarryn and the team here.

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124 Responses

124 Responses

  1. Hi. I been Reading a lot about Paleofood. Its very near what you are talking about. They don´t eat dairy but som of them eat parmesan. What do you Think of Parmesan? Does it contain IGF-1? I could´t find it anywere googling it.
    /Susanne

  2. I hope that this is just an example. You can ruin your metabolism by eating less than 1200 calories a day. What do you think about combining low glycemic foods and iifym? I’m currently eating 60 g fat, 150g protein, 81g carbs, 30 – 36g fiber. Just wonder how the 2 programs would work together?

    1. Hi Daree,

      It is just an example. My meal plans are based on 1200 calories, excluding snacks. So, many women aim for 1400-1500 calories, as per many medically researched hypocaloric diets.

      I think the two programmes would work well together. If your carbs are all low GI and you’ve got good fats and proteins, your insulin levels should be well under control, keeping your symptoms under control.

      Tarryn

      1. Thank you for answering so quickly. After going through some of your other articles I understand a bit better of how pcos works and how diet is such a big contributer in symptoms. Thanks so much for your help!

  3. Tarryn,

    I just found your site and I am ecstatic! This is exactly what I have been looking for! We are in the middle of our second round of fertility treatment (we have secondary infertility, with a son who is almost 4, and I was diagnosed with PCOS August 2013). I have been reading a lot about the PCOS diet on various sites, and I am curious if you can help me with one concern I have. My BMI is 18.5. I have some fat on my tummy that I can’t get rid of, but overall I am actually considered underweight. Lots of medical sites suggest getting your BMI between 20 and 25 to be at your maximum fertility. Is there a way to increase my BMI while following the PCOS diet? I am doing zumba three times a week, one of which is a toning zumba, and pilates twice a week. Thank you for the time you devote to helping women with PCOS everywhere. I am SO grateful for this information!

    1. Hi Amy,

      You can definitely follow the principles of the PCOS diet but make sure that you eat calorie rich foods like nuts, olives and avocados. The healthy fats are also important for the manufacture of hormones…

      Hope that helps!

      Tarryn

  4. Hi, i’ve been diagnosed as lean pcos so weight isnt an issue, to be honest im a bit underweight. Im on metformin and have totally revamped my diet to be paleo- been doing this for over three months now.My main problem is acne on my chin and jawline- small white spots under the skin, loads of them- what can i do to clear them? Thanks gwen

  5. Dear Tarryn,

    I’m so happy to find out about your page. I’m 27 and engaged. I just went to see my dr about my menses problem last week and she told me that i might be having PCOS. This is really frustrating for me as the dr said that I might not be able to conceive If I dont fix this rite now. Results of my blood test is next week to confirm about this PCOS that i might be having . I’m confused right now on how to start with a good diet and exercise. Its really life changing for me. I hope with your guidance and your experience that you share in this page will help me to get better and continue to give inspiration to others with this problem .

  6. Hye
    I just want to know that can I take gram flour in my breakfast as well as in my dinner?as it is gluten free BT having high carbs content like 40.

  7. So I was just diagnosed with PCOS today. I have spent the last 8 years trying to get rid of baby weight (with one child after another, 3 total) and finally someone was able to tell me why nothing was working. My concern is now that I have to cut pretty much my family’s entire food consumption out of my diet I could really use some ideas as to making the PCOS diet not only work for me, but also making it kid friendly. My children (ages 4, 6, and 8) are picky eaters and we love our breads, pastas, sugars, etc. My daughter could stand to lose a little weight as well, but again any help as to how I can make this diet kid friendly would be much appreciated. Thank you so much.

  8. I am going on three weeks now that I have cut out both gluten and dairy (with some minor “cheats” while I figure it out!), and I have to say, I am already noticing some big differences! My acne has gotten much better, my concentration and energy levels have improved, I don’t feel like passing out immediately after I eat anymore. I’m really hoping for my hair to come back (I know that could take awhile). So now I’m looking for more ideas for snacks with lots of protein … I used to eat a lot of yogurt, cottage cheese, part-skim mozzarella, milk, etc., so without the dairy I’m running out of ideas … I can only eat so many boiled eggs & nuts. Ideas anyone?

  9. Is natural peanut butter good or bad for the PCOS Diet? I seem to read conflicting reports, some say it’s a legume and would be a no-no, and some say it’s a good protein source.

  10. Hi Tarryn. Thank you for this insightful website!!! I am 30 and suffering from PCOD since a year and a half. My obgyn did not give me any info on how to manage the PCOS besides putting me on BCP.
    I don’t have as such any symptoms of PCOS except irregular period. I exercise 5 times a week and eat healthy.( I am on lean side).
    But I have a major problem… as I’m an Indian, wheat is our staple food. I have been a veggie all my life.

    I eat whole wheat flour mixed with besan (chickpea flour) made rotis for dinner with a healthy vegetarian or with lentils.
    Do I have to avoid even this amount of wheat I eat? It’s completely home made. Dough is just made with water. Please suggest.

    1. Hi Anamika,

      Many women with PCOS also have gluten intolerances and that is why I suggest going gluten free. Just make sure that you are having lots of good quality plant based proteins at every meal. Also, supplements like Inositol and Folic acid should help.

      Tarryn

  11. Hello,

    I recently have begun reading about PCOS, and all the symptoms have really made sense to what I have been going through for years. Talking about diet, I recently started a low carb diet and by the 2nd day and beyond, I feel fantastic! I have noticed that I have more energy, and my period is slowly coming back. I don’t get hungry as often anymore, and my skin has begun to clear up. Can a low carb diet really be the answer to PCOS?

    1. Hi Ana,

      It could really help as high carb diets will cause insulin levels to rise, causing a rise in testosterone, making PCOS symptoms worse. Sounds like you’re doing really well!

      Tarryn

  12. Hello Tarryn!

    Thank you so much for this site! I have been through all your blogs and it has truly been helping me a lot!

    I was diagnosed with pcos four years ago, when I was 14. I started getting periods at quite a young age but they were never very regular and then it stopped for a year, so I knew it was not right and went to the doctors. After going through the usual blood tests and ultrasounds, the gynaecologists put me on diannette and I have been taking them for 4 years, but I realised that I put on weight. However, all I really wanted was to get rid of the acne and the hirsutism.

    I have recently been really down about pcos and I want to control EVERYTHING, including my weight, which I know will help with insulin resistance. Even though I always have exercised regularly, being on dianette did not make losing weight easy at all. Dianette did help my menstrual cycle and symptoms, but even on dianette my hair has become thin (admittedly, I was never too keen on dianette and took it on and off!). I made the decision to go off it completely and control the symptoms naturally and start living by the pcos diet and doing a lot more exercise, and then hopefully in the future have a baby of my own. However, I’m extremely scared that my symptoms will come back with a vengeance and continue getting worse if I am off medication. I am also scared that I won’t have a natural period again this year or the next. Will having a healthy lifestyle do the trick and work better than having both a healthy lifestyle and a change of medication?

    Once again, thank you so much for your amazing website!

    Cristina

    1. Hi Cristina,

      Thanks for sharing your story.

      I would follow a good diet and lifestyle for 3 months before coming off the medication and birth control. That should help you to manage your hormones and smooth the transition when coming off the pill. Research has shown that diet and lifestyle changes are more effective than medications for managing PCOS. So, I would definitely go that route first. IF your symptoms do start to spiral out of control, you can always add medication and see if that helps.

      Good luck!

      Tarryn

  13. I was recently diagnosed with PCOS after years of struggles with weight loss, acne, hirsutism, etc. No doctor ever seemed to suggest PCOS as the cause for my issues until a few months ago. I was put on birth control to regulate my hormones better but I still struggle with losing weight; no one’s sat down with me to go over what having this syndrome really means; I work out 4 days a week and see little progress. I stumbled upon this website this morning and it’s the answers to my prayers! This is the most information I’ve ever found on PCOS to date. Thank you for putting this together!!

  14. Hi Tarryn,

    I have had PCOS for many years. Weight has been a struggle for a long time. I was taking metformin in the past and it did nothing but I’m currently on homeopathic medications for PCOS abs thyroid, it’s only been about 6 weeks so we will see I am supposed to wait a month. I met with a Dr who wrote the book Fructose exposes you should check it out. Anyways I have acne, weight gain, hair growth, hair thinning…pretty much all the symptoms. I feel like I read so many different things. Some say don’t eat fruit at all some say eat fruit lowest in sugar as possible. I feel like when I eat fruit it sticks right with me. What fruits do you suggest to eat and stay away from?

    Thank you.

  15. Hi Taryn,

    What GI levels should I be at everyday? Im 33, 5’4″, and 154 lbs. I have regular periods but I suffer all of the other issues that come along with PCOS.( body and facial hair, severe acne, tiredness, anxiety, depression, and I struggle to even lose a pound or inch a week when I am in the gym lifting and doing cardio) I want to revamp my hormones and I am trying to make our food choices as healthy as possible. Also is one to two glasses of red wine a day ok?

  16. Hello Tarryn,
    Im new to ur site too! Its sounds interesting and definitely the best way to concieve and maintain a healthy body. I have PCOS since i was 15. My perios is most irregular. My doc set me up to birth pills for 6 months which regulated my period to 28 days. Today im 25 and my cycle started varying too much (from 45 days till 56). This time i have 2 months without any period and negative beta test. Obviously
    Im a fast food lover, i never watched my diet, im a bit overweight… I eat a lot of carbs and dairy food. My work doesnt allow me to cook well or prepare healthy snacks or whatsoever (due to TIME). Of course its been 2 cycles for me trying concieving.. I think u are amazing by helping us.. Thanks!

    1. Hi!

      Thanks for sharing your story! Its sounds like you could make some changes to your diet and it will go a long way to help you conceive. I totally understand that you may be pushed for time to prepare meals but it will be well worth the effort!

      I hope you get your amazing baby news soon!

      Tarryn

  17. Hi Tarryn. Thank you or this wonderful and informative website. I was diagnosed with PCOS a few years ago but the obgyn did not give me any info on how to manage the PCOS besides putting me on birth control, which I have now stopped because I want to manage it naturally. My question is, how do you determine the inflammatory factor of the food and what is a good number and a bad number. I would like to apply this to the food I eat now and see how this affects my PCOS.

  18. Hi Tarryn, I’m 32 and I have been having irregular periods for last 5 years. I have seen many GYNOs but i have never been diagnosed with pcos but i feel those symptoms. All they say is that i see my diet and take less stress. My main issue is delayed periods. when i don’t get the periods i feel my tummy is full all the time. sometimes my period are as late as 2 months. I just want to confirm if my diet is ok as someone suggested me so. My diet is as follows:

    breakfast: two slices of whole grains bread , one boiled egg and 3 table spoons of yogurt.
    lunch: chicken with one wholegrain slice and fresh orange juice.
    dinner: only raw vegetables. like broccoli, kale, celery, beet, cucumber.

    and i do cycling of one hour 4 days a week.

    1. Hi Annandi,

      Thanks for sharing your story. How frustrating that you have not been given a diagnosis and it sounds like the doctors are not being particularly helpful!

      Your breakfast and lunch mels look good. I would just add some protein to your dinners to help keep you fuller for longer and to balance any carbs that you may be having – you want to avoid a spike in your insulin levels.

      Hope that helps!

      Tarryn

  19. This is very interesting and helpful! Although, I’m noting that several comments are equating low GI and and low GL, which is not the case. The diet plans on this site are low GL, not necessarily low GI. For example, half a grapefruit has a glycemic load of 3 to 4 but a glycemic index of approximately 25. This is a helpful distinction to make if someone is pre-diabetic, etc.

    However, I think it’s great that the plans have roughly 100 carbs per day or less (although, again, once we add in snacks, I’m not sure where we fall). The main question I’ve always had with doctors/nutritionists/dietitians suggesting a low-carb diet is: what’s low carb? Under 100g? Under 150g?

  20. Hi Tarryyn,
    Am so gald someone like you has a testimony overcoming PCOS to have a child. I’ve been married for 5 years and have struggled with conception because of PCOS. Had several treatments with clomid,Menopur etc but nothing worked : (
    Was researching on my own to see how others prevailed ,when i stumbled into this site and REALLY glad i did.
    What advice do you have for me, Am DESPERATE to have my own children

  21. Hi Tarryyn,
    Am so gald someone like you has a testimony overcoming PCOS to have a child. I’ve been married for 5 years and have struggled with conception because of PCOS. Had several treatments with clomid,Menopur etc but nothing worked : (
    Was researching on my own to see how others prevailed ,when i stumbled into this site and REALLY glad i did.
    What advice do you have for me, Am DESPERATE to have my own children.

  22. Hi Tarryn,

    I’m new to the site but have found it very informative so far. I took a look at the three meal plans I have access to, and I’m wondering if it’s okay to swap out recipes/food that I know I don’t care for? Are the meal plans meant to be a guide or strictly followed? (As in I don’t really eat lamb and would much rather have chicken!). Also – is it okay to eat the same lunch two days in a row if there are left overs? I was unable to find anything on the site that really addresses any of the above.

    Thanks!

    Kristen

    1. Hi Kristen,

      The meal plans are a guide. A lot of women swap and change recipes according to taste and time available. Also, feel free to have left overs or the same meal a couple of days in a row.

      Hope that helps,

      Tarryn

  23. Also, is it weight loss in itself that is important in managing pcos, or do all the dietary recommendations need to be followed even if you’re not overweight? I have been losing weight with slimming world and its going really well, but in their eating plan I can eat pasta, bread, etc, and can eat a certain (small) amount of ‘naughty’ food or alcohol each day if I want to. It feels sustainable to have a bit of give and flexibility in my eating patterns, but I can’t see anything about this in your eating plan which makes me concerned about the its sustainability.

    1. Hi Meg,

      Every meal plan does have a treat recipe if you would like some “naughty” food. Weight loss is important but I think that it’s more important to manage your insulin levels. High insulin levels in response to carbs causes our ovaries to release testosterone which will make our symptoms worse. It’s important that you follow a low GI diet and meal plan.

      You could always keep going with slimming world and monitor your PCOS symptoms. The weight loss may well be enough to see improvement in your symptoms.

      Well done on the weight loss! Its no small feat for someone with PCOS!

      Tarryn

  24. Tarryn, I read somewhere on your site that you can use honey to sweeten things occasionally. I’m wondering if maple syrup is ok instead of honey? I just love maple syrup and would love to continue using it (sparingly and occasionally, of course!)

  25. Hi Tarryn,

    I am new to your site and just started the diet you suggest. I do have a question though. I started to bake my own sugarfree and dairy free desserts. I.e. Muffins with banana, avocado oil and raisins. Is this ok?

    Melanie

    1. Hi Melanie,

      Yeah, that sounds great. Just be aware of the number of carbs you’re having in the muffins and try to have them with some nuts to balance the carbs!

      Enjoy them – they sound delicious!

      Tarryn

  26. hello 🙂

    Is it true that you should be dairy free meaning no milk or yogurt but can you have semi skimmed milk and diet yogurt and for gluten free does that mean i cant have bread or pizza e.g pizza from supermarket or from restaurant.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Noor,

      I would still avoid milk and yoghurt as they contain IGF-1 which will cause your testosterone levels to rise.

      Many women with PCOS have gluten intolerances that make their PCOS symptoms worse. I would avoid gluten for a month and see how you feel.

      Tarryn

  27. Tarryn,

    This is an extremely interesting post! My roommate and I both have PCOS but hers is undiagnosed and she has been struggling with her weight for many many years. She recently has began weight watchers, but I’ve been a bit skeptical about how well it will work for her if her weight struggles are hormonal. This article has shed so much light on how a good PCOS diet can help us both get our symptoms under control. Thank you so much for all your research!!

    Niana

    1. HI Niana,

      I think it’s great that your roommate is doing something to tackle her weight! And it’s wonderful that you have each other for support. I really hope you both start to see good improvements in your symptoms!

      Tarryn

  28. Thank you very much for the eye opening article and your informative site. I was prescribed Metformin for my PCOS a few months ago, after taking them for about a month I couldn’t handle the side effects and stopped taking them. I’ve started with a new fertility specialist and was prescribed Metformin again. I’m wondering if I can just not take the Metformin and forgo with a PCOS diet and herbal remedies or Should I take the Metformin along side my lifestyle changes for better results?

    Thank you so much for all the help.

    Clarissa

    1. Hi Clarissa,

      It’s entirely up to you and I would be reluctant to go against the advice of the doctor.

      Here is some research on the benefits of lifestyle and diet changes vs metformin http://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282%2809%2900505-6/abstract It seems that diet and lifestyle have been shown to be just as effective (if not more effective) than metformin.

      I also chose to go the all natural route and I am now pregnant with our second child (it may take a bit longer without metformin though)

      I hope you get some amazing baby news soon!

      Tarryn

    2. Hi Clarissa,

      I too was prescribed metformin (x3 a day) by the specialist and was unhappy about the side effects so had cut down to only 1 a day and often forgot to take it. After talking to my GP about it she recommended not to stop taking it altogether but that if I was unable to take the 3 tablets a day to take at least 2 a day. I have since weaned myself back up to the 3 tablets a day and am only occasionally affected by the side effects now.

      Hope that helps

  29. Hi Tarryn, Congratulations! My question, has anyone here had hair/loss, or hair thinning? I have always had massive hair, now I am at about 50%, my Dr. wouldn’t do hormone testing (no problems writing anti depressants etc though…) So, I paid to have them tested myself, my progesterone is low, just at the cut off, my estrogen is normal, but the ratio is high, Testosterone is only slightly higher than the average, but my DHEAs are twice what the average woman my age is typically at (41yrs) I bought some progesterone, but admit I haven’t used it in 2 months, I will get back to it. My main concern (one of many), and as vain as it is, is my hair…Did you, or anyone here, loose a lot of hair, re-balance your hormones and have it grow back? Thank you for your reply 🙂

    1. Hi Kimberly,
      I lost about 75% of my hair in middle school due to PCOS. I am 23 now and it has grown back a little, but the texture and the density is different. I had thick course hair as a child, now I have thin and fine baby-like hair. When I part my hair I can see my scalp for about 1/2 an inch. I have grown to live with this; however, when my PCOS symptoms are getting out of whack (weight gain, acne, stress) I immediately notice a change in my hair. It will start coming out while styling and while sleeping and the evidence upsets me. I too, am vain and would like to keep my hair, so in a weird way, my hair motivates me to eat right and go to the gym and get things together. Honestly, your hair might never be as thick or be the same again. But it can slowly grow back if you get the PCOS under control and I found the best way to do that is through dieting and INTENSE CARDIO exercise. Good luck to you!!

      1. Dear Kimberly and Caitlyn,

        I hope this isn’t too late to reply!! I noticed my hair thinning from the age of 18 (now 22), but didn’t know the cause until last week. Last year I started using Phylia de M shampoo, conditioner and sprays, and they really helped my hair! It wasn’t miraculous, but definitely a lot of new growth, and it looked stronger even after the first wash. It’s quite expensive, but I think it’s worth it, and I have heard of it helping many other women too (I had first heard about it from an article by India Knight recommending it).

        I hope this helps, if you’re interested in trying it 🙂

  30. Hi Tarryn,

    Great website! Such great info here. I was diagnosed with PCOS two years ago, and have been trying to manage it since. I’ve been on metformin but am still not able to maintain a regular cycle. I definitely think I need a diet overhaul, and am willing to make some major changes.

    One question I have is about how alcohol affects people with PCOS. Is it okay to have a glass of red wine? Is wine preferable over beer or liquor? Personally, I’m a huge fan of red wine, so hopefully I’ll still be able to enjoy a glass from time to time! 🙂

  31. Hi Tarryn,

    I have a question concerning the PCOS diet. In your shopping list, you often have gluten-free items. Is a gluten-free specifically recommended for PCOS and for fertility in general?

    Thank you,

    Nina

    1. Hi Nina,

      Gluten has been shown to cause inflammation which is already an issue for women with PCOS. Also, it can lead to hormone in balance in women so that is why I generally suggest going gluten free. Why not try it for a month and see if you notice any difference or improvements in your symptoms?

      Tarryn

  32. i am 23 and i have been worried about swelling in my body (tummy, legs, thighs, ankles, feet, hands, arms etc) since one or two years. recently have been to doctor and got some blood test done. he asked me to take pictures of swelling wen i showed to him he was almost convinced that its PCOS wen combining with other symptoms. i am not planning to get pregnant for next couple of years as i am not married yet. i am very frustrated with my swelling i do not fit in my cloths. feel breathless while walking. my performance in gym is gone very bad now. please help me in this. my hormones are not balanced. ultra sound scan shows 14mm cyst. he said after my blood test reports he will give me Metformin on a low dose and may take few year. i also want to know if there are any side effects of this medicine. i dont this swelling, i look very chubby with double chin, big tummy, big thighs. 🙁 please help. 🙁

      1. Hi Simmi,

        I am sorry you’re having such a hard time! I think you need to wait to get all of your blood results to confirm if it is PCOS and not something else. That severity of swelling is not a common symptom of PCOS as far as I am aware.

        Good luck!

        Tarryn

        1. I was just recently diagnosed with pcos. I also have had lots of swelling. It happens to my stomach, legs and feet. My dr. put me on a low Gi diet. He wants me to do this for a month then start me on Metformin.

  33. Hi Tarryn,

    I want to share the good news with you. I am 7 week pregnant. I have PCOS. Please guide me for my diet. DO I need to continue with the PCOS diet and avoid all dairy from my diet or i can eat any healthy food which i feel like eating? I am very confused. I am having nausea and i dislike some food. Looking forward to your sugggestions.:)

    My Gynic. suggested me to continue with Metformin till 3rd month.

    Thaniks,
    Shruti

    1. Congratulations Shruti! That’s amazing news and you must be so excited!

      Diet is still important but it does become more difficult when you are feeling sick. Just make sure that you always have some protein with every meal or snack. Also the Metformin will help to manage insulin and therefore testosterone levels so don’t worry too much about being strict with your diet. Eat whatever you can manage!

      Congratulations again and I hope you have an amazing pregnancy!

      Tarryn

  34. Hi Tarryn,
    What can I use safely for a sweetener? I use Splenda now. I really need something to sweeten things. Truvia?

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      Artificial sweeteners are being researched further as they seem to cause weight gain. So, I would try cutting them out as much as possible. A little bit of organic honey can be used to sweeten things but be careful of the carb content.

      Hope that helps,

      Tarryn

      1. Hi Tarryn,

        First of all, yours is the BEST website (most quality- informative and well laid out) I’ve found on PCOS help. Thank you so much. Second, can’t we use Agave Nectar as it’s low GL? What are your thoughts on this please? Thanks in advance! =)

          1. Hi,

            I have found that the best tasting natural sweetener is date paste, made simply by whizzing dates in a food processor. You can use this for example as a sweetener in baking.

  35. thank you so much! i have pcos and i’m trying to have a baby. i also have acne and moderate hirsutism. i am a vegetarian but i use to eat loads of carbs cause i like them so much. i will try the diet and will inform you about my progress 🙂

  36. Hi Tarryn

    I have pco and i am not over weight in fact my doc said am just the right weight. I read all these articles and they say loose weight. Is there anything else i need to do to help apart from loose weight.
    Thanks

  37. Hi! Could you list out any fruits which should be avoided?
    I had started yoga a few weeks back. Even though I feel way more healthier, stronger and better, is there any way I can understand if its affecting PCOS also.
    Thanks a lot for this…

  38. What recipe analysis site did you use? I would love to use it with Vegetarian substitutes in meals to make sure I am choosing the correct food!

  39. Wow!! Thank you so much for all of this wonderful information! It is truly a Blessing and so are you ,thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  40. As far as I see, it’s more like a paleo diet plan, except for the lentils. In Hungary PCOS and IR is a very “popular” thing. And our doctors and dietitians have a different plan, which works in 90% of the cases (weight loss and symptoms loss plus getting pregnant) We have to eat 5 times a day. Whole wheat bread, durum wheat (pasta, couscous, boulgour) brown rice, basmati rice, millet)is ok, as all of them are complex carbs. It is forbidden to eat fruit for breakfast but three hours later we should… anyway, if it worked for you, I’m glad 🙂

    1. Hi Provence13,

      I’m also from Hungary, and having such a hard time to find a good doctor regarding to my PCOS. Would you be so nice and advise me a doctor with whom I could work on my diet, and not just been put on pills?

      Thanks in advance,

      Adriana

  41. Dear Tarryn,

    I don’t know if I the text exactly en thats wat I have next question. Is it very wrong if you only consider the GI? So not the amount of carbs? I understand that the GI is more important than the amount of carbs?
    I bought à lot of groceries Low in GI. likje buckwheat, Almonds, speltproducts etc.nothing with sugar. I likje to eat pancakes for breakfast and two slices of Bread a
    For lunch. Does this mean I can’t eat any other Carbs during the day?
    I do not really like raw vegetables, but I am really trying to eat them with my bread.

    Thank you Stefanie

  42. Hello, actually I am a 17 year old from India and have been recently diagnosed with bilateral PCOS. I actually wanted to know whether having PCOS generally leads to the inability of a lady to have a baby ? And, I am having joint pains too, so the doctor has told me that I have deficiency of Vitamin-D , and since then, my parents have made it a point that I drink two glasses of milk everyday. Should I cut it down ??

    1. Hi Tiabano,

      Grapefruit is great. It has a low GI and is also anti-inflammatory. It also is very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber and Potassium, and a very good source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C.

      So, definitely enjoy grapefruit as part of your PCOS diet!

      Tarryn

      1. Doesn’t grapefruit sometimes mean that certain medications don’t work? I have heard that it can make birth control ineffective and have been told not to eat it with mine. If this is the case and you’re like me, On metformin (which can increase chances of conception), Novo-Spiriton (an anti-androgen, which can harm the sex hormones in a fotus) and a birth control to prevent said fetus from coming into ‘the danger zone’ that is currently my uterus… grapefruit could be a serious wrench in the cogs. I like grapefruit and it’s a wonderful weight-loss food, but it’s just one food that I think it might be safer for me (and Schroedinger’s fotus) not to have in my[our] diet.

      2. Hi Taryn!
        Do you mind sending me a link to the research that proves that diet and exercise and better alternatives to alleviating symptoms of PCOS than Metformin or Clomid?

        Thanks!

        1. Kim,

          The article can be found if you click on the digit 1 in the text where it is cited. You’ll, however, need access to sciencedirect journal articles (costs a bomb for subscription). Most universities probably have access, so maybe you or someone else can help you with accessing it.

      3. Dear Tarryn,
        I have just been told to a follow a blood type diet where it permits dairy and red meat and forbids chicken. However as I have pcos and the diet you recommend differs and contradicts the blood type diet I am not sure which is the better one. Could you enlighten me? Thanks very much.

  43. Hello

    I have thin pcos and have a strict diet of no carbs
    Except fruits and low carb vedge
    But nothing has worked for me
    Still no periods and terrible acne
    Desperate !!
    Any ideas ?

    K

    1. Hello Kay 🙂 I was just doing some research of my own trying to find out info on recommended carb intake for us women with PCOS when I came across this post and seen your comment. I think your question is a great one. I was reading some info about women with PCOS that are insulin resistant and also gluten intolerant. Removing gluten from your diet might help. Good luck in your search for help and answers!
      God Bless!

      1. I have thin PCOS as well, and went for years without any relief (and rarely menstruated during that time.) I was never underweight, but thin and had a healthy average weight, with plenty of regular exercise, lots of veggies and fruits, and tried Paleo and gluten-free both for extended periods of time, and nothing worked.

        Finally I got frustrated and gave up the gluten free, started adding some more grains and carbs into my diet without thinking too much about what I was eating (obviously not overeating or overdoing any aspect, just not focusing on it constantly), added LOTS of healthy fat (tons of olive oil), cut out dairy completely, and I’m finally regular! 4 months in a row, which is the first time that has ever happened in my life, since I got my first period at 12 years old (I’m now 24). I think obsessing over what you’re eating too much can be a hindrance, you really need to keep testing things out and figure out what works best for you. I’ve been repeatedly tested for gluten allergies/intolerance and celiacs, and while I don’t go out of my way to eat gluten every day, I don’t obsess over it either. For now focusing on incorporating fats into my diet and shying away from dairy seem to be the most important changes I can make, and I don’t want to feel overwhelmed by being too strict on other aspects of my diet.

        Best of luck to you!

    2. I have had pcos for 3 years, maybe longer but unaware of it til I got diagnosed by the doctor. They put me on the pill diannette, I didn’t get spots but felt like I had gained weight whilst taking it so I stopped taking it, but then I seemed to put on more weight as I was not coming on my period even though I was getting my monthly stomach pains and headaches, so I then decided to go back on the pill. Soon after i got really insecure of the way I looked so I stopped taking it, during that period i was playing dance on the Xbox with my family and suddenly came on naturally. To prove that exercise was the solution to coming on I decided to test it, I danced 45-60mins per week for 2/3 months and came on, I then stopped dancing and my period didn’t come on for that month however as soon as I started dancing again, 10 days later I came on. So exercise for me is my “contraception” as it allows me to come on naturally hallelujah lol.

    3. Hey Kay
      I have the regular PCOS although very aggressively and i get 1/3 of my daily calorie intake through carbs, you need a bit of carbs to keep your body working. Stay away from fruits or if you can’t then a maximum of 100 calories through this a day. Keep away from melon, pineapple, papaya and fruits with a high GI. Fruit contains fructose, which is carbs, they WILL affect your bloodsugar, which is what you should avoid, therefor stick to one banana or apple a day. Tune up your protein and fat intake, because this keeps you satisfied without affecting your bloodsugar. More fat is important, because fat helps level the hormone balance, and with acne and no ovulation you should make it a priority.

      I hope that I have been of help.
      -Michaela, a fellow cyster

    4. For women with PCOS there have been may studies conducted linking certain diets (like the DASH diet) that have shown to help improve certain health related factors in women with PCOS.

      The pathophysiology of PCOS appears to be multifactorial and polygenic and studies are still being done to determine the exact pathophysiology of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Since PCOS is often accompanied by overweight or obesity and metabolic syndrome. Life style management is often the first line of treatment in women with PCOS, along with diet and physical exercise as the primary treatment approaches for managing PCOS.

      Ladies, Some people with tell you to eat …. “Low carbs” or “go gluten free” OR that grape fruit is a “magic” food for women with PCOS. Most of the time these are people who are not licensed or registered as a Dietitian and have no knowledge that their “health claims” are proven to work for women with PCOS. You need to seek professional advice from either your Doctor or an RD. Put your health first and seek advice from the experts.

      Visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for more information.
      http://www.eatright.org/search.aspx?search=PCOS

      Brittany, RD, LD

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