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PCOS Diet And Lifestyle – What Should You Do If You Have PCOS?

by
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition
PCOS Diet And Lifestyle – What Should You Do If You Have PCOS? May 29, 2018

Scientists have found that following a PCOS-friendly diet and lifestyle can help women avoid the negative effects of this syndrome (1). This hormonal disorder affects women of reproductive age and is characterized by multiple cysts in the ovaries, irregular or no/prolonged periods, weight gain, excessive hair growth, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, etc. (2).In fact, a PCOS diet and workout plan can help improve your physical as well as mental health. Read on to find answers to your PCOS-related questions as well as a 7-day PCOS-friendly diet and exercise plan. Swipe up!

What Is PCOS?

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PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a hormonal imbalance that occurs in women of reproductive age, which leads to small cysts in the ovaries, more androgen production, insulin resistance, facial hair, depression, anxiety, diabetes, and infertility.

More than 100 million people suffer from PCOS worldwide. And though genes play a vital role, lack of exercise and proper diet can also lead to this condition. But how? Well, PCOS is interlinked with diabetes, unhealthy lifestyle, hormones, and insulin resistance. Let’s talk about it in detail so that you understand your condition better.

What Causes PCOS And Why Do You Gain Weight?

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PCOS or cysts in the ovaries are mainly caused due to hormonal imbalance. The second most predominant cause is faulty genes. Stress, unhealthy foods, and following an unhealthy lifestyle for a prolonged period can trigger PCOS. So, even if no one in your family has PCOS, you can have cysts in your ovaries. How is that possible? Here’s a brief explanation.

Your pancreas produces a hormone called insulin that helps transport glucose to the cells for further breakdown and energy release. When you follow unhealthy food habits and binge on foods, your glucose levels are constantly high. This causes the beta cells in the pancreas to secrete more insulin to lower the blood glucose levels. When there’s a constant high level of insulin, your body becomes insulin resistant. It is similar to mosquitoes being resistant to DDT or bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics. So, now that your body is insulin resistant, the blood sugar levels remain high. This, in turn, triggers even more insulin production.

In the meanwhile, your cells are devoid of glucose or sugar to convert it into energy. This is precisely the reason you constantly feel hungry and lethargic. Insulin resistance causes diabetes and imbalance in the hormones, especially the androgens, leading to hirsutism (excess facial hair) and PCOS. Sometimes, the beta cells just don’t produce enough insulin, and therefore, your blood glucose levels remain high for prolonged periods.

It is a complex process, but it sure has got to do a lot with what and how much food you eat. We will get to that in a while. First, let’s take a look at the symptoms of PCOS.

PCOS Symptoms

Here are some symptoms that you should be aware of:

  • Irregular or no periods
  • Excessive bleeding for prolonged periods
  • Weight gain
  • Facial hair
  • Male pattern baldness
  • Hyperpigmentation in the inner thigh area
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Increased appetite
  • Insulin resistance
  • Hypertension 

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, here’s what you should do. 

So You Think You Have PCOS? Do This!

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You must immediately book an appointment with your gynecologist. Your doctor is the best person to confirm whether or not you have PCOS. You might need to get an ultrasound done and take medications. Medication will depend on the severity of the issue and if you are planning to start a family soon.

Bottom line: Do not assume you have PCOS unless your doctor confirms it.

Just relax, get the tests done, take the medicines on time, and more importantly, change your diet and lifestyle. This would be the best treatment for PCOS. Here’s a 7-day PCOS diet plan for you.

7-Day PCOS Diet Plan

This PCOS diet chart has been created keeping overweight or high BMI PCOS patients in mind. Talk to a nutritionist if you are a lean PCOS patient. 

Day 1

Any day can be Day One of this diet. You do not have to wait for the coming Monday or even next month. Here’s what you should eat.

MealsWhat To Eat
Early Morning (6:00 a.m.)2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds soaked overnight in 1 cup water
Breakfast (7:00 a.m.)1 boiled whole egg + 1 cup green tea + ½ cup papaya + 2 almonds
Mid-morning (9:30 – 10:00 a.m.)1 cup green tea + 1 carrot
Lunch (12:00 – 12:30 p.m.)1 small bowl of brown rice + grilled veggies + 2 oz grilled fish or 1/2 cup boiled garbanzo bean salad + 1 cup buttermilk
Post-lunch Snack (3:00 – 3:30 p.m.)1 cup green tea/black coffee + 1 multigrain biscuit
Dinner (6:30 – 7:00 p.m.)Chicken/lentil soup with 5 different veggies + 1 whole wheat flatbread + 1 cup yogurt
Bed Time (10:00 p.m.)1 cup grass-fed milk with a pinch of turmeric Or 1 glass warm water + 1 teaspoon organic honey + a pinch of nutmeg

Tip: If you feel hungry before your next meal, have a cup of green tea (do not exceed the 5 cups a day limit), drink water, or have a fruit. And if you are offered food that doesn’t agree with your new diet, politely say no.

How You Will Feel By The End Of Day 1

It will be difficult for you to stay away from the tasty but harmful junk food that you are used to. However, by staying focused on Day 1, you can easily glide through the next six days. Let’s see what should you consume on Day 2.

Day 2

MealsWhat To Eat
Early Morning (6:00 a.m.)2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds soaked overnight in 1 cup water
Breakfast (7:00 a.m.)½ cup vegetable quinoa/semolina + 1 cup green tea + 2 almonds
Mid-morning (9:30 – 10:00 a.m.)1 banana + ½ cucumber
Lunch (12:00 – 12:30 p.m.)2 whole wheat flatbreads + kidney bean chili + ½ cup beetroot and carrot salad + 1 cup buttermilk
Post-lunch Snack (3:00 – 3:30 p.m.)1 cup green tea + ½ cup unsalted popcorn
Dinner (6:30 – 7:00 p.m.)1 cup kale and shrimp/mushroom salad + 1 cup yogurt
Bed Time (10:00 p.m.)1 cup grass-fed milk with a pinch of turmeric Or 1 glass warm water + 1 teaspoon organic honey + a pinch of nutmeg

Tip: Drink two cups of water before every meal to avoid overeating.

How You Will Feel By The End Of Day 2

By the end of Day 2, you will start noticing a difference – not in your body weight, but in the way you feel about starting a new lifestyle and making a new beginning. Getting up early, eating right at the right time, and getting 7 hours of sleep will help you flush out physical and mental toxins. This will be a strong motivator, and you will look forward to Day 3.

Day 3

MealsWhat To Eat
Early Morning (6:00 a.m.)1 cup warm water with juice of half a lime
Breakfast (7:00 a.m.)Oatmeal with raspberries, 2 dates, and grass-fed milk + 1 cup green tea Or Almond milk, strawberry, and banana smoothie +1cup green tea
Mid-morning (9:30 – 10:00 a.m.)Half and half coconut water and black coffee + 1 multigrain biscuit
Lunch (12:00 – 12:30 p.m.)3 oz grilled fish and 4 different grilled veggies + 1 cup yogurtOr ½ cup baked black beans and 4 different grilled veggies + 1 cup yogurt
Post-lunch Snack (3:00 – 3:30 p.m.)1 cup green tea + 10 in-shell, unsalted pistachios
Dinner (6:30 – 7:00 p.m.)Grilled mushroom + broccoli soup + 1 cup buttermilk
Bed Time (10:00 p.m.)1 cup grass-fed milk with a pinch of turmericOr 1 glass warm water + 1 teaspoon organic honey + a pinch of nutmeg

Tip: Avoid consuming skimmed milk or low-fat yogurt. Always consume grass-fed full-fat milk/yogurt to feel full for a long duration.

How You Will Feel By The End Of Day 3

By the end of Day 3, you will feel and weigh lighter than before. And that’s because you will lose a lot of water weight. This, in turn, will help you be more focused on healthy eating and lifestyle.

Here’s what you should eat on Day 4.

Day 4

MealsWhat To Eat
Early Morning (6:00 a.m.)2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds soaked overnight in 1 cup water
Breakfast (7:00 a.m.)1 banana + 2 almonds + 1 cup green tea + 1 whole boiled egg or ½ cup tofu scramble
Mid-morning (9:30 – 10:00 a.m.)1 small bowl of mixed fruits
Lunch (12:00 – 12:30 p.m.)1 small cup brown rice + ½ cup curried chicken/mushroom + cucumber and tomato salad + 1 cup buttermilk
Post-lunch Snack (3:00 – 3:30 p.m.)1 cup green tea + 1 multigrain biscuit
Dinner (6:30 – 7:00 p.m.)1 medium bowl boiled whole split peas salad with cucumber, tomato, carrot, lime juice, a little olive oil, and seasoning + 1 cup yogurt
Bed Time (10:00 p.m.)1 cup grass-fed milk with a pinch of turmericOr 1 glass warm water + 1 teaspoon organic honey + a pinch of nutmeg

Tip: Choose low GI fruits so that your body is able to tolerate the fruit sugar better.

How You Will Feel By The End Of Day 4

By the end of Day 4, your new lifestyle will be your new normal. You will feel better and sleep better.

Eager to know about Day 5? Here you go!

Day 5

MealsWhat To Eat
Early Morning (6:00 a.m.)2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds soaked overnight in 1 cup water
Breakfast (7:00 a.m.)Vegetables and boiled millet + 1 cup green tea
Mid-morning (9:30 – 10:00 a.m.)2 almonds + 1 cup green tea or 1/2 cup watermelon
Lunch (12:00 – 12:30 p.m.)Thai papaya salad + 2 oz grilled chicken/fish/1/2 cup grilled broccoli + 1 cup buttermilk
Post-lunch Snack (3:00 – 3:30 p.m.)1 cup coconut water + 1 cucumber
Dinner (6:30 – 7:00 p.m.)½ cup cauliflower rice + baked kidney beans + sliced red bell pepper, yellow zucchini, and green beans + 1 cup buttermilk
Bed Time (10:00 p.m.)1 cup grass-fed milk with a pinch of turmeric Or 1 glass warm water + 1 teaspoon organic honey + a pinch of nutmeg

Tip: Do not consume packaged fruit juices or coconut water.

How You Will Feel By The End Of Day 5

By the end of Day 5, you will see a visible difference in your appearance and the way you feel about yourself. Being able to stick to a diet that is good for you will bolster your confidence levels, and you will clearly see a future where you do not have to depend on medicines to treat PCOS.

Let’s find out what you should eat on Day 6.

Day 6

MealsWhat To Eat
Early Morning (6:00 a.m.)1 cup warm water with juice of half a lime
Breakfast (7:00 a.m.)1 savory crepe with ½ avocado, ¼ red bell pepper, 5 peanuts, and lime juice + 1 cup green tea
Mid-morning (9:30 – 10:00 a.m.)1 apple
Lunch (12:00 – 12:30 p.m.)Chicken/garbanzo beans salad + 1 cup yogurt
Post-lunch Snack (3:00 – 3:30 p.m.)1 cup green tea + 1 medium bowl unsalted popcorn
Dinner (6:30 – 7:00 p.m.)Fish or mushroom stew + 1 whole wheat flatbread + cucumber and carrot salad + a piece of 80% or more dark chocolate
Bed Time (10:00 p.m.)1 cup grass-fed milk with a pinch of turmeric Or 1 glass warm water + 1 teaspoon organic honey + a pinch of nutmeg

Tip: Do not consume milk chocolate – 80% or more dark chocolate is best for you.

How You Will Feel By The End Of Day 6

The dark chocolate by the end of Day 6 will feel very refreshing. Do not go overboard with it. Plus, now, even your close ones will start noticing a difference in you. But they will not be quite sure what it is. And my advice is, keep them guessing!

Now, let’s take a look at Day 7.

Day 7

MealsWhat To Eat
Early Morning (6:00 a.m.)2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds soaked overnight in 1 cup water
Breakfast (7:00 a.m.)1 boiled egg + 1 slice of wheat bread + 1 cup green tea + 2 almonds or walnuts
Mid-morning (9:30 – 10:00 a.m.)1 orange
Lunch (12:00 – 12:30 p.m.)1 small cup brown rice + grilled chicken/mushroom + grilled veggies + 1 cup yogurt
Post-lunch Snack (3:00 – 3:30 p.m.)1 cup green tea + 1 multigrain biscuit
Dinner (6:30 – 7:00 p.m.)Mixed vegetable curry + 2 wheat flatbreads + ¼ cup boiled Bengal gram + 1 cup buttermilk
Bed Time (10:00 p.m.)1 cup grass-fed milk with a pinch of turmeric Or 1 glass warm water + 1 teaspoon organic honey + a pinch of nutmeg

Tip: Soak the brown rice in water for 30 minutes before cooking so that it cooks faster.

How You Will Feel By The End Of Day 7

By the end of Day 7, you will be amazed to have come so far, and this will boost the levels of adrenaline and serotonin (feel-good hormones). You will feel more determined than ever and love your new lifestyle.

But is this diet for only 7 days? No. So, what should you do after Day 7? Find out next.

What Should You Do After Day 7?

You must continue being on a PCOS -friendly diet. This not only helps you lose weight but also prevents weight regain. Plus, your periods will start becoming regular and, in general, you will feel and look better than before.

Yes, following the same diet plan for weeks can become boring. So, here is a list of foods you can consume and avoid. Plan your own diet and live a healthy life. Scroll down.

PCOS Diet – Foods To Eat

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Here’s a list of foods that you must include in your diet.

  • Veggies – Broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, turnip, scallions, purple cabbage, beetroot, Chinese cabbage, lettuce, sweet potato, bell peppers, white potato with peel, spinach, and kale.
  • Fruits Apple, banana, orange, grapefruit, grapes, cucumber, tomato, peach, plum, lemon, lime, tangerine, pineapple, mango (limited quantities), blueberries, strawberries, and acai berries.
  • Protein Chicken breast, lean cuts of beef and pork, fish, beans and legumes, tofu (limited quantity), eggs, and mushroom.
  • Dairy Full-fat grass-fed milk, full-fat grass-fed yogurt, cheddar, feta, buttermilk, homemade ricotta cheese, and cottage cheese.
  • Whole Grains Brown rice, black rice, millet, broken wheat, quinoa, barley, and sorghum.
  • Fats & Oils Olive oil, rice bran oil, peanut butter, sunflower butter, edible grade coconut oil, and almond butter.
  • Nuts & Seeds Almond, walnut, pecan, pine nuts, macadamia, pistachios, sunflower seeds, melon seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
  • Herbs & Spices Cilantro, mint, rosemary, thyme, oregano, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, onion, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, black pepper, fenugreek seeds, dried fenugreek leaves, white pepper, chili flakes, allspice, star anise, cardamom, garlic powder, and clove.
  • Beverages Water, homemade electrolyte, freshly pressed fruit juices, coconut water, and cold-pressed juices.

There are also foods that you MUST AVOID. Take a look at the list below.

PCOS Diet – Foods To Avoid

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  •  Fruits – High GI fruits like grapes, jackfruit, mangoes, and pineapple should be consumed in limited amounts.
  • Protein Fatty cuts of pork and beef, bacon, and soy chunks.
  • Dairy – Low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, flavored yogurt, and cream cheese.
  • Whole Grains White rice. Consume it in limited quantities and include at least five types of veggies with it to balance out the GI.
  • Fats & Oils Hemp seed oil, dalda, lard, vegetable oil, butter, margarine, and mayonnaise.
  • Nuts & Seeds Cashew nuts.
  • Processed Foods Salami, sausage, fries, ranch dip, bottled jams, and jellies.
  • Beverages – Packaged fruit and vegetable juices, soda, diet soda, and energy drinks. 

Your weight loss or reduction in PCOS effects depends on whether or not you exercise. As a PCOS patient, you MUST workout to mobilize the fat and shed the extra flab. Merely eating healthy will not solve the problem. Here’s a workout plan that will help you lose the fat and build muscle to look toned and defined.

Exercise For PCOS

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Warm-up

  • Arm circles – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Neck circles – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Neck tilts – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Standing alternating foot taps – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Shoulder rotations – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Waist rotations – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Ankle rotations – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Spot jogging – 2-3 minutes
  • Jumping jacks – 1 set of 20 reps

Cardio

  • High knees – 2 sets of 20 reps
  • Forward lunges – 2 sets of 15 reps
  • Jumping lunges – 2 set of 15 reps
  • Full squats – 2 sets of 15 reps
  • Jumping squats – 2 sets of 15 reps
  • Plank jacks – 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Jackknives – 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Sit-ups – 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Crunches – 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Bicycle crunches – 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Leg raises – 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Flutter kicks – 2 sets of 20 reps
  • Leg tucks – 2 sets of 15 reps
  • Russian twists – 2 sets of 20 reps
  • Elbow plank – 30-60 second hold

[ Read: Top 10 Cardio Exercises You Can Do At Home ]

Other Cardio

  • Swimming
  • Running
  • Bicycling
  • Dancing

Strength Training

  • Shoulder press – 2 sets of 15 reps
  • Chest press – 2 sets of 15 reps
  • Lateral raises – 2 sets of 15 reps
  • Lat pulldowns – 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Rowing with lat machine – 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Bicep curls – 2 sets of 15 reps
  • Hammer curls – 2 sets of 15 reps
  • Tricep extensions – 2 sets of 12 reps
  • Bent over rows – 2 sets of 12 reps
  • Skull crushers – 2 sets of 15 reps
  • Lying chest fly – 2 sets of 12 reps
  • Leg press – 3 sets of 12 reps
  • TRX band training

Other

  • Yoga
  • Meditation

Tip: Make sure you do a mix of cardio and strength training and get 4-5 hours of exercise every week. Meditate at least for 5-10 minutes whenever you get the time.

When you change your diet and exercise, you will start to feel good. However, there are a few other things you should keep in mind. Take a look at the next section.

Lifestyle Changes For PCOS

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  • Eat at the right time. Have the right portion size and the right foods.
  • Do not starve or follow any fad diets to lose weight quickly.
  • Sleep for at least 7 hours. Do not oversleep.
  • Exercise regularly. On days you want to take rest, do some light stretching exercises.
  • Meditate regularly.
  • Keep the stress away by keeping yourself busy by doing what you like.
  • Do not binge on junk food.
  • Eat home cooked food. If you are always on the go, make sure you go to a restaurant that serves healthy food.
  • Go on long walks on weekends alone or with your partner, friends, or pet.
  • Join a kickboxing class. It sure does help when you vent out negative emotions on an inanimate sack.
  • If you are depressed and have other issues that are blocking your way to a healthy and happy life, consult a psychiatrist.
  • Join a cooking class, pottery class, or an NGO to connect with new people and build a new social circle.
  • Talk to your friends and family.
  • Never give up on yourself. 

Apart from making these changes in your life, if your doctor recommends, you may have to undergo PCOS treatment.

PCOS Treatment 

  • Metformin (the most common drug for treating diabetes type 2)
  • Hormonal treatment
  • Surgery
  • Clomiphene
  • Vaniqa cream

But the question is, what can happen if you do not follow a PCOS diet and lifestyle? Take a look at the following section.

PCOS Risks

  • Weight gain
  • Facial hair
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Weakness
  • Infertility
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Heart disease

PCOS, if left untreated, can lead to infertility. And this might bother many women, leading to stress, which will only aggravate the situation. Menopausal women can suffer from various health issues, such as high cholesterol, and hypertension.

To conclude, 3 out of 5 women have PCOS, and it is mostly because of poor lifestyle choices. By changing your diet and lifestyle, you can not only reduce its effects but also turn your life around. So, if you have PCOS or know a friend who has it, take action now! Remember, it is never too late to start. And start by talking to your doctor and following a PCOS diet and lifestyle. Good luck!

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Charushila is an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition and a full-time contributor to Diet & Weight Loss at Stylecraze. She believes that food has healing powers and eating good food is the best way to lose weight. A binge eater-turned-fitness enthusiast, Charushila likes to share her knowledge and experience with the world. When she is not working, she loves to cook healthy food, watch movies, travel, workout, and read Bengali literature.