PCOS Meal Plan:7-Day Nutritional Bliss

Learn about PCOS, the importance of nutrition in its management, the best and worst foods for PCOS, and a 7-day meal plan.

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by
Sarah Bullard, MS, RD, LD
— Signos
Dietitian and Nutrition Writer
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Updated by

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Science-based and reviewed

Published:
April 23, 2024
April 2, 2024
— Updated:

Table of Contents

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) impacts upwards of 18% of women. This life-long hormonal disorder causes menstrual irregularities, high levels of hormones like testosterone, and insulin resistance.1 PCOS can also contribute to high androgen levels that affect ovulation, menstruation, fertility, and facial and body hair growth.

Insulin resistance occurs when the body doesn’t respond well to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps remove glucose from the bloodstream and transfer it to the necessary cells.2

With PCOS, the body can make too much insulin. However, the insulin isn’t effectively removing glucose. This excess insulin can lead to weight gain, difficulty losing weight, unstable blood sugar levels, and intense cravings for carbohydrate-rich foods.2 

The excess insulin and other hormones impact the whole body, including the ovaries. PCOS and insulin resistance put women at an increased life-long risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, fat accumulation in the liver, depression, anxiety, and fertility issues.2 

In this article, you’ll learn about the importance of nutrition in proactive PCOS management and disease prevention, the best and worst foods for PCOS, and a 7-day meal plan.

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The Importance of Nutrition in PCOS

Woman eating pizza

Nutrition (what you eat and drink) plays a key role in PCOS management. 

High blood sugar and insulin levels result when your cells don’t respond appropriately to insulin.

You may also feel hungry since the cells are not receiving the blood sugar they need. So you eat, often high-sugar or high-carb foods that increase blood sugar and insulin, leading to weight gain, and the cycle continues.1, 2 

To break this elevated insulin and blood sugar cycle, you should aim to eat balanced amounts of high-fiber carbohydrates like whole grains, vegetables, beans, nuts, and fruits paired with protein and healthy fats.

Insulin and blood sugar levels will trend into healthier ranges, leading to better management of PCOS and lessening its effects on the whole body.1, 2 

Healthcare professionals prioritize weight loss, but reducing insulin levels is critical to restoring the hormonal balance that allows weight loss to occur. 

Here is a list of foods that can help you manage and thrive despite the challenges of PCOS.

PCOS: Best Foods to Eat and What to Avoid

No specific healthy diet, such as keto or intermittent fasting, can cure PCOS. Popular fad diets often recommend strict calorie, dairy, or gluten restrictions, which are unnecessary. Research has shown that certain types of foods and eating are beneficial for women with PCOS.1, 3 

A low glycemic index diet has been found to lower insulin levels without weight loss. Low glycemic foods include whole foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean protein sources.1 

Prioritizing an anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce insulin and inflammatory markers in women with PCOS. For 12 weeks, 100 women with PCOS ate five small anti-inflammatory meals. The macronutrients were distributed as 25% protein, 25% fat, and 50% carbohydrates.3 

Participants lost 7% of their body weight, inflammation (CRP) levels reduced by 35%, and insulin resistance improved by 27%.3 

Foods to Eat

  1. Berries (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries)
  2. Beans and legumes (black beans, chickpeas, lentils)
  3. Low-fat dairy (unsweetened kefir and yogurt)
  4. Healthy fats (olive, avocado, tuna, salmon, nuts, seeds)
  5. Whole grains (oats, brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta)
  6. High-fiber foods (leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, carrots, green beans, sweet potatoes)
  7. Lean protein sources and fatty fish (lean beef, tuna, salmon, chicken, dairy, nuts, nut butter)
  8. Spices (garlic, turmeric, ginger, onion, thyme, oregano, pepper, saffron, rosemary)

Foods to Avoid

  1. Fried/Processed foods (fast food, fried chicken, french fries, frozen convenience foods, sausage, lunch meats, chips) 
  2. Alcohol (all types, but especially sugary alcoholic beverages)
  3. Refined carbohydrates (sweetened breakfast cereals, donuts, pastries, desserts, chips, crackers, pizza, white bread, pasta, and rolls)
  4. Sweeteners (excess honey, table sugar, brown sugar, agave, syrups, artificial sweeteners, stevia) 
  5. Sugary drinks (soda, sweetened coffee drinks, energy drinks, sweet tea, juice)

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Also Related: </strong><a href="weight-loss-pcos">How to Lose Weight When You Have PCOS</a>.</p>

7-Day PCOS Diet Meal Plan

Woman smelling cooking pan

Your meal plan should include protein, high-fiber carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, or legumes, and healthy fats. 

Below is an example of a 7-day meal plan for PCOS. Modify for your taste preferences or additional dietary restrictions or allergies. Portion sizes may need to be adjusted specific to you. 

1. Monday

  • Breakfast: Microwaved old-fashioned oats with milk (or a low-fat dairy alternative or plant-based milk), cinnamon, blueberries, ground flaxseed, and sweetened with a touch of honey.
  • Lunch: Roasted chickpeas seasoned with pepper, turmeric, and garlic. Served over chilled, cooked quinoa with cucumbers, sliced onions, olives, tomatoes, olive oil, and feta cheese. 
  • Dinner: Baked salmon seasoned with lemon juice, garlic, and pepper. Serve with roasted carrots and broccoli seasoned with rosemary and thyme. 
  • Dessert: Cookie dough Greek yogurt (unsweetened, vanilla Greek yogurt with peanut butter and a sprinkle of dark chocolate chips).
  • Snacks: Hard-boiled egg and clementine; strawberries with one handful of almonds.

2. Tuesday

  • Breakfast: Blueberry, banana, spinach smoothie with ground flaxseed, kefir, and Greek yogurt. Hot black coffee. 
  • Lunch: Leftover cold salmon served over leafy greens (spinach or kale), walnuts, dried cranberries, feta cheese, and olive oil dressing. Serve with a banana.
  • Dinner: Black bean skillet hash made with diced tomatoes, sweet potato, red bell peppers, and garlic. Sautéed green beans with black pepper and olive oil as a side dish. 
  • Dessert: Apple and nut butter. 
  • Snacks: Whole-grain mini pita bread and veggie sticks with hummus.

3. Wednesday

  • Breakfast: Egg scramble made with sauteed spinach, peppers, and garlic. Serve with whole-grain toast and butter. 
  • Lunch: Leftover black bean skillet hash made with diced tomatoes, sweet potato, red bell peppers, and garlic. Serve with raspberries or blackberries. 
  • Dinner: Asian chicken sheet pan dinner (chicken drizzled with coconut aminos, honey, rice vinegar, and sriracha with stir fry veggies and baked at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 mins).
  • Dessert: Dark chocolate and almonds. 
  • Snacks: Blueberries on Greek yogurt. 

4. Thursday

  • Breakfast: Overnight oats made with old-fashioned oats, chia seeds, milk, honey, and cinnamon. Top with your choice of fruit (blueberries or raspberries). 
  • Lunch:  A grown-up charcuterie plate with olives, mozzarella or cheddar cheese, whole-grain crackers, a boiled egg, a handful of almonds or walnuts, raspberries, grapes, carrots, and raw broccoli or cauliflower. 
  • Dinner: Chickpea pasta topped with sauteed chicken, mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic, and onions. Roasted broccoli to serve on the side. 
  • Dessert: No-bake energy bites (old-fashioned oats, flax or chia seeds, nut butter, vanilla extract, and other mix-ins like dark chocolate or unsweetened shredded coconut). 
  • Snacks: Cottage cheese and fruit (can be fresh or canned in juice or water). 

5. Friday

  • Breakfast:  Two or three no-bake energy bites served with a bowl of berries and hot black coffee (splash of milk, if desired). 
  • Lunch: Leftover chickpea pasta topped with sauteed chicken, mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic, and onions. Clementine on the side. 
  • Dinner: Grilled fish tacos made with corn tortillas, black beans, tomato salsa, cabbage slaw, and cilantro lime brown rice. 
  • Dessert: Apple slices with melted nut butter.
  • Snacks: Turkey and cheese roll-ups with whole wheat crackers. 

6. Saturday

  • Breakfast: Banana, egg, and oat flour pancakes served with peanut butter on top. Pair with coffee or unsweetened hot tea, if desired. 
  • Lunch: Drained, canned tuna in water, served over lettuce salad (kale, broccoli slaw, and spinach). Add nuts, your favorite raw vegetables, and olive oil dressing. Serve with grapes. 
  • Dinner: Lean ground beef chill made with diced tomatoes, onions, garlic, chili powder, cumin, chili beans, black beans, and kidney beans.
  • Dessert: Chocolate Chia Pudding (made with unsweetened cocoa powder).
  • Snacks: Trail mix made with nuts, unsweetened dried fruit, and seeds. 

7. Sunday

  • Breakfast: Overnight chia and oatmeal pudding topped with fresh or frozen berries. 
  • Lunch: Leftover lean ground beef chill made with diced tomatoes, onions, garlic, chili powder, cumin, chili beans, black beans, and kidney beans. Serve with raw carrots and celery. 
  • Dinner: Skillet fajitas made with chicken breast, peppers, onions, and garlic served with cilantro lime cauliflower rice. 
  • Dessert: Air-popped popcorn sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Pair with some nuts or cheese.
  • Snacks: Steamed edamame and blueberries. 

5 Tips for Healthier PCOS Management (Besides Dieting)

Nutrition is important for lowering insulin and blood sugar levels. Other lifestyle changes can further lower these levels and help you manage your PCOS. 

  • Try stress-reducing strategies like activity, yoga, restful sleep, reading, and mental health counseling. Research links stress and insulin resistance.4 While stress can’t be eliminated, you can reduce the effects on your body. 
  • Add regular exercise and movement. Aerobic exercise (walking, jogging, swimming, and dancing) improves the insulin response, helps maintain a healthy weight, and aids in weight loss.5
  • Aim for restful sleep. Poor and inadequate sleep increases weight and insulin resistance. Help manage your insulin and PCOS by implementing bedtime routines to help you get restful sleep.6 
  • Practice mindful eating. Mindful eating is the practice of savoring food, taking your time with meals, and enjoying the company of others. It can help you recognize your fullness and hunger cues, preventing overeating.
  • Consider supplements under the guidance of a registered dietitian or healthcare provider. Berberine, inositol, B12, folate, vitamins D, E, and K, and magnesium, calcium, zinc, and selenium supplements can help you manage PCOS symptoms.7 

Learn More About How to Improve Blood Sugar Health With Signos’ Expert Advice

A Signos continuous glucose monitor (CGM) can help you track blood glucose levels discretely in real time. 

You can see immediately how different nutrition changes, like low glycemic carbohydrates and anti-inflammatory foods, affect your blood sugar. This tool (CGM) can help you make effective changes, such as increasing the protein, fat, and fiber you eat alongside high-fiber carbohydrates to help you feel your best and thrive with PCOS.

A Signos’ CGM can help you improve your health while trying to prevent or manage insulin resistance and PCOS. A healthcare professional can help you choose the proper medication (if needed) to help manage your health conditions and weight. 

Learn more about nutrition and healthy habits on Signos’ blog. Take a quick quiz to determine if Signos fits your needs.

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Learn More: </strong><a href="pcos-pms-and-perimenopause">PCOS, PMS and Perimenopause, What Role Does Glucose Play?</a>.</p>

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References

About the author

Sarah Bullard is a registered dietitian and nutrition writer with a master’s degree in nutrition. She has a background in research and clinical nutrition, personalized nutrition counseling, and nutrition education.

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