PCOS Meals: 12 recipes for hormone health
If you have PCOS, you are probably battling with some tricky symptoms, including spots and acne, hair growth and fluctuating energy levels.
One of the best ways to keep these problems at bay is with your diet. Fuelling your body appropriately is so important for those with PCOS, as we need enough of the right nutrients to support hormone levels, including insulin and testosterone, as well as to avoid energy dips that contribute to fatigue.
Does low-carb work for PCOS?
Low-carb diets are a popular recommendation online for those with PCOS, but the research isn’t as clear-cut. In a 2021 review of the literature, published in the journal Nutrients, researchers found that the division of macronutrients (that is, the number of carbs, fats and proteins) made no real difference to PCOS symptoms. Instead, focusing on meals with a low glycemic index (GI) was the best way to support health markers including insulin resistance and cholesterol levels.
Low GI foods are those that are broken down slowly by the body to avoid spikes in blood sugar. Typically, simple carbohydrates like white pasta, rice and white bread have a high GI. But how often do you eat a bowl of plain, white pasta?
That’s why we shouldn’t judge foods by themselves but look at the GI of a meal as a whole. Adding fibre, protein and fats can lower the GI of a meal to make it more suitable for those with PCOS, as can swapping simple carbohydrates for wholegrain versions that are digested more slowly.
If you need some meal inspiration, we’ve rounded up 12 of the best PCOS-friendly recipes.
What should breakfast be with PCOS?
Many of us run out of the door on busy mornings with nothing more than a coffee in our systems. But breakfast is a really important part of hormone management.
In a small study from 2013, published in Clinical Science, 60 women with PCOS were given either a big breakfast, medium lunch and small dinner or a small breakfast, medium lunch and big dinner for 90 days. The total daily calories of both groups stayed the same, but those who had a big breakfast saw a 56% decrease in insulin resistance and a 50% decrease in testosterone. According to researchers, those reduced hormone levels led to a 50% rise in ovulation rate, predicted by higher progesterone levels.
Big breakfasts might not work for everyone, but eating frequently is a good way to avoid spikes and falls in blood sugar levels. So why not try one of these PCOS-friendly morning meals?
Avocado Toast with Egg by Feel Good Foodie
This recipe is protein-packed and full of healthy fats.
Strawberry protein crepes by Feel Good Foodie
These crepes are perfect for satisfying a morning sweet tooth while providing you with slow-release protein and healthy fats.
Overnight oats with figs, cranberries and walnuts
Prep ahead for busy mornings with a simple oat recipe. The complex carb is a great option for avoiding blood sugar spikes, especially paired with walnuts for fats and protein.
Which snack is good for PCOS?
Snacks are important to keep your energy levels up, but often we grab single-ingredient foods, like a piece of fruit, or convenience foods that lack that all-important fibre and protein.
While there’s nothing wrong with an apple, it’s important to pair those carbs with other nutrients when you have PCOS to slow the release of blood sugar. Take a tub of nut butter to the office for dunking, or prep ahead with one of these simple recipes.
Cookie dough protein bars by Feasting on Fruit
Packed full of nuts and seeds, you can eat these chocolate-covered bars when refuelling on the go.
Garlic, herb and parmesan chickpeas by My Fussy Eater
A great alternative to crisps, these crunchy chickpeas are packed with slow-release fibre.
Egg muffins by Thriving Gluten-Free
These cheesy, garlicky savoury muffins also contain iron-rich spinach, which makes them a great snack for when you’re losing blood on your period.
What can I eat for lunch if I have PCOS?
The best lunches for PCOS are similar to the best breakfasts for PCOS: packed with healthy fats, protein and a source of fibrous carbs to support energy levels and hormonal health.
A plate of sushi to-go is delicious every so often (especially if it contains omega-rich salmon, a nutrient shown to support metabolic health in people with PCOS), but these alternatives focus on wholegrains rather than simple carbohydrates for improved blood sugar.
Spicy chicken and chickpeas by Her Highness Hungry Me
With two sources of protein and loads of fibre, this low GI meal is a quick lunch you can make at home or meal-prep for the week ahead.
High protein tuna salad by Walder Wellness
Yes, you can eat bread if you have PCOS. Choosing a seedy, crunchy loaf over a white slice will lower the GI, and seafood is also high in antioxidant selenium, a nutrient shown to support symptoms of PCOS.
Edamame mango salad by Running on Real Food
Edamame is a plant-based protein that makes this delicious vegan meal satisfying enough to keep you going all afternoon.
What should I eat for dinner with PCOS?
As the Clinical Science study suggested, lighter dinners might be the way to go for those with PCOS. Avoiding eating too late is also beneficial for better sleep, which is important for hormone regulation.
That doesn’t mean your dinners should consist of limp lettuce, though. They can still be satisfying and nourishing, and the key is to make sure they still contain a good balance of nutrients and loads of veggies. High protein dinners are also important, as protein contains tryptophan – an amino acid shown to improve mood and sleep, which can both commonly be impacted in those with PCOS.
One pan chicken and vegetable bake by Eatwell 101
With three different vegetables and a low-salt seasoning, this warming recipe will support your body into sleep.
Teriyaki salmon buddha bowl by Healthful Blondie
Salmon is a great source of omega-3 and other healthy fats, and the wholegrain rice and variety of vegetables help give this meal a lower GI.
Mexican quinoa by Damn Delicious
A vegan option that contains a decent amount of protein thanks to the black beans and quinoa, mixed together with avocado for fats.