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Diet for PCOS and Insulin Resistance

by
author image Chelsea Flahive, RDN, LD
Chelsea Flahive is a registered dietitian nutritionist and licensed dietitian with a passion for health and wellness, weight management and disease prevention. She received a Bachelor of Science in human nutrition, foods and exercise from Virginia Tech and completed her dietetic internship through the University of Delaware. Flahive is completing a certificate of training in weight management through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Diet for PCOS and Insulin Resistance
A balanced diet can alleviate symptoms of PCOS. Photo Credit Fuse/Fuse/Getty Images

Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, affects 5 to 10 percent of all women of reproductive age and is associated with infertility, irregular menstrual cycles, cardiovascular risks, insulin resistance and risk of diabetes, according to the Office on Women's Health. Many women who have PCOS also struggle with obesity, which can further complicate PCOS symptoms. Modifying your lifestyle by eating healthy and exercising can improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin, lower your blood sugar levels and normalize your hormone levels. Losing even 10 percent of your body weight can regulate your menstrual cycle.

Fat and Protein

Diet for PCOS and Insulin Resistance
Eat healthy fats. Photo Credit Elena Gaak/iStock/Getty Images

Fat is a critical part of a balanced diet, but where your fat comes from is important. Fats, particularly omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, should make up between 20 and 25 percent of your daily calories. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish, walnuts and flaxseed. Diets high in monounsaturated fats are associated with greater weight loss for women who have PCOS. If you have PCOS, eating a high-protein, low-carb diet may aid in weight loss and improve blood sugar levels. Aim to eat between two and five servings of protein per day.

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Complex Carbs and Fiber

Diet for PCOS and Insulin Resistance
Complex carbohydrates can help with insulin resistance. Photo Credit Monkey Business Images/Monkey Business/Getty Images

Adding complex carbohydrates to your diet can help with insulin resistance associated with PCOS. Most complex carbs, such as whole-grain breads and cereals, legumes, and starchy vegetables, are converted into blood sugar much more slowly than simple carbohydrates. This produces a weaker insulin response. Complex carbohydrates also tend to be high in fiber, which slows digestion, and helps you to feel full. Aim to get 30 to 50 grams of fiber per day.

Fruits and Vegetables

Diet for PCOS and Insulin Resistance
Fruits and vegetables are good sources of antioxidants. Photo Credit chainatp/iStock/Getty Images

Fruits and vegetables are good sources of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. By increasing your fruit and vegetable intake, you can improve some symptoms of PCOS by lowering androgen levels in the body. Aim to get five portions of fruits and vegetables per day.

Chromium

Diet for PCOS and Insulin Resistance
Chromium is an important mineral that helps your body break down and use fats and carbohydrates. Photo Credit john janssen/iStock/Getty Images

Chromium is an important mineral that helps your body break down and use fats and carbohydrates. Chromium is also involved in breaking down insulin, making you more sensitive to insulin when it’s released in the body. Chromium supplementation can help with glucose intolerance and improve blood sugar levels. The Institute of Medicine recommends women get 25 micrograms of chromium per day. Dietary chromium is found in beef, eggs, chicken, green peppers, apples, bananas and spinach. Talk with your health care provider before taking supplements.

Exercise

Diet for PCOS and Insulin Resistance
Exercise can alleviate symptoms of PCOS and aid in weight loss. Photo Credit kzenon/iStock/Getty Images

Exercise can alleviate symptoms of PCOS and aid in weight loss. If you experience insulin resistance with PCOS, exercise will increase insulin sensitivity, which means that your body can use insulin more efficiently. Exercise can also reduce blood pressure and blood sugar and triglyceride levels.

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References

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