Why Protein Is Important In A PCOS Diet?

Four Protein Superfoods That Are Frequently Ignored

Fitness, India Protein Paradox
September 15, 2020

Right To Protein Team

Why Protein Is Important In A PCOS Diet?

Research suggests that Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is estimated to affect about 10 million women globally. One in every 10 women in India has PCOS, of which six are teenage girls, according to a 2015 study by PCOS Society. The condition is clinically characterized by cysts in the ovaries and endocrine abnormalities affecting women of reproductive age. As common as it may be, living with PCOS is tough. In fact, the stress of reduced fertility, acne, insulin resistance, weight gain, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes may increase the gravity of these very symptoms. 

While there is no ‘one best fits all approach’ solution for women with PCOS, there are two principles that most medical practitioners tend to agree on – regular exercise and a diet with adequate protein! 

Why you need protein if you have PCOS

Women suffering from PCOS must try and increase protein intake in their daily diet to tackle the symptoms of this endocrine disorder effectively. Protein not just fuels the body with calories, but it also serves as a building block for bones, muscles, skin, and blood and plays an integral role in the synthesis of hormones.

Although there’s no cure for PCOS, several studies show that a protein-rich diet can benefit women in several ways:

  • Increases metabolism: Protein accelerates the body’s metabolism, which means you burn a higher amount of calories. This is because all foods have a thermic effect, and in protein-rich foods, it is anywhere between 15-30%, much greater than that of carbohydrates or fats.
  • Helps control appetite: Protein stimulates the production of hormones that are meant to make you feel satiated and also reduce cravings.
  • Stabilizes blood sugar: All foods have a glycemic index due to which blood sugar levels increase. Since protein is digested slowly, its impact on blood sugar is much lower. The macronutrient also stimulates the release of a hormone called glucagon that raises blood glucose levels and counteracts the action of insulin.

What you need to eat

Most foods fit into a healthy eating plan for PCOS but adding good protein sources is a must.  Look for plant-based protein such as soy, beans, hummus, peanut butter, eggs, etc. and vegetarian meat substitutes, and fats such as olive oil, nuts, and avocado. Need a simple guide to help you do so? Simply refer to Right To Protein’s Protein Index for good whole food protein options for a PCOS-friendly diet –

  • Almonds: 4 g protein
  • Eggs: 3 g protein
  • Milk: 3 g protein
  • Quinoa: 8 g protein
  • Oatmeal: 11 g protein
  • Lentils: 18 g protein
  • Cottage Cheese: 28 g protein
  • Soybeans: 29 g protein
  • Chicken Breast: 53 g protein

Eat these high protein foods in combination with high-fiber grains to slow down the absorption of the carbohydrate and keep insulin levels low. As per the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) given by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for Indians, 0.8 to 1 gm protein per kg body weight per day is sufficient to meet the basic nutritional requirements. An effective way to do so would be to ensure that at every meal, 1/4th of the plate is filled with protein.

The bottom line

Protein is an important macronutrient for PCOS. Do your best to start the day with a good protein source, along with some fat, fiber, and healthy carb. Ultimately, making informed lifestyle changes is an important first step for sustained health and wellbeing.

Protein-O-Meter

The amount of protein you need depends on your weight, goals, and lifestyle. Protein-O-Meter will take your body-composition and activity level into account to estimate your protein needs. Start with the number given by the calculator, see how that makes you feel, and try adjusting your protein level up or down to see what amount makes you feel good and perform well!

Protein Index

Find out all about whole foods that are protein heroes! Achieve your fitness goals by finding out just how much protein you should incorporate to stay nourished.

Protein-O-Meter

The amount of protein you need depends on your weight, goals, and lifestyle. Protein-O-Meter will take your body-composition and activity level into account to estimate your protein needs. Start with the number given by the calculator, see how that makes you feel, and try adjusting your protein level up or down to see what amount makes you feel good and perform well!

Protein Index

Find out all about whole foods that are protein heroes! Achieve your fitness goals by finding out just how much protein you should incorporate to stay nourished.

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