Low GI foods for PCOS - Which ones are good for me?

low glycemic diet pcos
low gi foods for PCOS

Low GI diets are often recommended for people with PCOS because they tend to cause less blood sugar spikes. This diet also reduce insulin levels in the body, which helps control weight and reduces the severity of many of the symptoms associated with PCOS.

What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects up to 5% of women. This condition causes irregular periods, excess facial hair growth, and weight gain, especially in the abdomen area (Read: What is PCOS belly? How to treat it naturally). Women who suffer from PCOS often struggle with infertility as well.

The Symptoms of PCOS

There are several different types of PCOS, each with its own set of symptoms. The two main types are insulin resistance and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Insulin resistance occurs when the body does not respond properly to insulin, causing high blood sugar levels. This type of PCOS is more common among overweight people.

Treatment Options for PCOS

There are several treatment options available for PCOS. Diet modification is often recommended as a first line of treatment. This includes eating fewer simple carbohydrates and more complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and legumes. A healthy diet also helps reduce insulin levels, which can help with weight management.

Recommended reading: Our Complete Guide to PCOS weight loss

Low Glycemic Index Foods for PCOS

If you have been diagnosed with PCOS, you should consider trying out some low glycemic index foods. These foods will help keep blood sugar levels steady throughout the day, which can help control cravings and prevent overeating.

Here are some examples of low glycemic index food categories:

  • Whole grain breads and cereals
  • Beans (black, kidney, pinto)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes

Food groups that are important to focus on (and why) if you have PCOS

  1. Whole Foods. Whole foods are foods that have not been processed or altered in any way. These foods are often referred to as natural foods and are the basis of what we share here at Well + Easy. Whole foods tend to be healthier than their processed counterparts due to the fact that they do not undergo chemical processing. Processed foods are stripped of many nutrients and vitamins that make them unhealthy.
  1. Lean Protein. Lean protein is meat that has had little to no fat added to it. Lean meats are high in protein and low in calories. Lean protein is often considered the best type of food to eat if you want to lose weight.
  1. Healthy Fats. Healthy fats are fats that are good for you. Omega-3 fatty acids are some of the most beneficial types of fats. Omega-3 fatty acid helps reduce inflammation throughout the body.
  1. Fiber. Fiber is a carbohydrate that cannot be digested by humans. Instead, fiber passes through the digestive system without being absorbed. When consumed regularly, fiber can help lower cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease.
  1. Water. Water is necessary for our bodies to function properly. Drinking enough water each day keeps us feeling full and prevents dehydration. Dehydration causes fatigue and headaches and often times over-eating. Sometimes when we think we're hungry, we're actually dehydrated. Try drinking water before reaching for a snack! 
  1. Vegetables. Vegetables are a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Many vegetables are also low in calories. Eating plenty of vegetables can keep you full longer and help you maintain a healthy weight. Veggies are free to eat!
  1. Fruit. Fruit contains lots of vitamins and antioxidants. Antioxidants protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals cause cancer and aging.

We have a Starter Kit that provides a list of low GI foods to keep in your kitchen as well as a 7-day sample meal plan with a grocery list so you have inspiration! Download it below!

Low GI foods for PCOS also focus on anti-inflammatory foods

There are many foods that help reduce inflammation in the body. Some examples include turmeric, ginger, garlic, onions, lemons, limes, apples, pears, blueberries, cranberries, broccoli, kale, spinach, tomatoes, avocado, olive oil, almonds, walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp seeds, fish oils, and soy products.

Learn how following a low glycemic diet supports PCOS >>

Frequently asked questions about the low glycemic diet for PCOS

What is a healthy diet plan for PCOS?

A healthy diet plan for PCOS includes eating lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, low fat dairy products, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, fish, poultry, eggs, and olive oil. Avoid refined sugars, trans fats, fried foods, artificial sweeteners, and sugary drinks.

What should I eat for breakfast if I have PCOS?

For those who suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, eating a healthy breakfast is essential. A good breakfast includes whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, millet, barley, buckwheat, amaranth, teff, cornmeal, wheat bran, rye flour, etc., along with protein sources such as eggs, nut milk, greek yogurt, cheese, beans, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, etc. You can find more ideas here: 10 Low GI breakfast recipes

What exercise is best for PCOS?

There are several different types of exercises that can help reduce symptoms and improve overall health. These include strength training, cardio workouts, yoga, Pilates, and others. We choose cardio as the #1 option and this can be done by walking briskly for 30-45 minutes with weights for an added boost.

What kind of diet is best for PCOS?

A low glycemic diet is one that is recommended for people who suffer from PCOS because it helps regulate hormones and reduces insulin levels. This type of diet also promotes healthy blood sugar levels.

What foods to avoid if you have PCOS?

Foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates like white breads, pastries, cakes, cookies, candy bars, soda, ice cream, etc., are not good choices for PCOS, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Again, try eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, beans, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, and nut butter.

How long does it take to reduce PCOS?

It takes about three-six months to see results from a PCOS diet. However, if you want to lose weight faster, you may need to follow a special diet program designed specifically for women who suffer from PCOS.