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1200 Calorie Diet for PCOS

author image Anne Danahy
Anne Danahy is a Boston-based RD/nutritionist who counsels individuals and groups, and writes about healthy eating for wellness and disease management. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame, and a Master of Science in food and nutrition from Framingham State University in Massachusetts.
1200 Calorie Diet for PCOS
A healthy wrap on a plate. Photo Credit: ALLEKO/iStock/Getty Images

Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, have an imbalance of sex hormones, which makes it hard for the ovaries to release mature eggs. Because of this, some women experience problems with fertility and irregular menstrual periods. Weight gain is also common with PCOS, as is a higher risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. A healthy and balanced low-calorie diet that promotes weight loss can help to manage PCOS.

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Diet Goals

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a healthy diet and regular exercise can control the symptoms of PCOS and reduce the risk of developing diabetes or heart disease. A 1,200-calorie diet can promote weight loss for women who are overweight, which can help normalize menstrual cycles and blood sugar, and possibly help with infertility. The academy recommends eating four to five small meals or snacks each day and including a source of lean protein with each meal. In addition, the academy advises eating whole-grain carbs, fruits and vegetables for fiber and healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados. Because they can be high in calories and raise blood sugar, foods with refined carbs and added sugar should be limited.

Don't Skip Breakfast

Even though you’re watching calories, it’s important to eat a healthy breakfast that includes some protein and fiber. Options for under 300 calories include 1/2 cup of egg substitute scrambled with chopped peppers and onions, plus half of a whole-wheat English muffin topped with 1/2 tablespoon of peanut butter and a small piece of fruit. Or you can try one whole-grain waffle topped with 1 cup of nonfat Greek yogurt and 1 cup of berries.

Lunch and a Snack

To follow the recommendation to eat four to five times each day, it’s best to eat about every three to four hours. Try to eat a small lunch and then a snack in the midafternoon. Good 300-calorie lunch options include a grilled cheese sandwich made with heart-healthy margarine spread and a slice of cheese or a green salad mixed with 4 ounces of tuna and 2 tablespoons of low-fat mayo. Snacks can be a piece of fruit and a stick of string cheese; a cup of nonfat Greek yogurt plus a piece of fruit; or an ounce each of deli turkey and cheese, plus sliced tomato, on half a whole-wheat English muffin. Each of these snack options has 200 calories or less.

Dinner Options

For a balanced dinner that’s high in protein and fiber, focus on lean proteins and vegetables, with a small serving of a whole-grain starch. Some 300-calorie choices include 3 ounces of skinless chicken breast, pork tenderloin or white fish, 1/3 cup of brown rice and at least a cup of roasted or sauteed vegetables, or 2 cups of salad. If you’re hungry before bed, remember to include some protein with your snack, in the form of a tablespoon of peanut butter on your apple, or a 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt dip with some sliced cucumbers and peppers.

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