Diet Chart for PCOS: How to control PCOS with diet and exercise?

Diet Chart for PCOS, how to control pcos with diet

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder common among women between 15-45 years of age. This disease affects a woman’s ovaries. The early pubertal years are when PCOS begins to develop.

Majorly affecting the women of reproductive age, this clinical condition can cause severe hormonal imbalance and difficulties in childbirth. PCOS has been reported to adversely affect fertility among women and as a major concern for developing various metabolic conditions such as heart diseases, diabetes, hypertension, etc. Approximately 3.7 – 22.5% of females of childbearing age are affected by this disorder in India.
PCOS is a heterogeneous disorder characterized by infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods and increased levels of male hormones (androgens). Numerous small fluid-filled sacs (follicles) develop, as a result of which the ovaries fail to form and release eggs regularly.
Signs and symptoms of PCOS vary from one individual to another. The common symptoms are:

  • Irregular periods are the most common sign of PCOS. Infrequent, irregular, complete absence or prolonged menstrual cycles result from the hormonal imbalance.
  • Hirsutism (excess body and facial hair), male pattern baldness, acne/ skin rashes, and skin darkening may occur because of excessive androgens.
  • Excessive weight gain or difficulty in losing weight due to hormonal imbalance is also prevalent among females suffering from PCOS.

The exact cause of the disease is still unknown. Various reasons like heredity, excessive male hormones, faulty lifestyle, and poor eating habits have been suggested without conclusive results.

The following article focuses on how to control PCOS with diet and exercise to improve the quality of life for women suffering from the disease.

Table of Contents

Feel free to skip ahead if one topic catches your eye:

  1. How Can Diet Affect PCOS?
  2. What Nutrition to Include in Your PCOS Diet?
  3. Indian Diet Chart for PCOS
  4. Best Exercises for PCOS


1. How diet can affect PCOS

Faulty dietary habits are closely linked with PCOS. A diet high in refined carbohydrates, simple sugars, and fats and low in fiber might lead to excessive weight gain, making PCOS management difficult.

Obesity and difficulty in losing weight are among the most common complications of PCOS, and both are the result of poor dietary habits. A high-calorie diet has also been linked with increased insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is a condition where the body cells are unable to use insulin to metabolize glucose and produce energy. This results in high levels of insulin circulating in the blood, leading to an increase in androgen levels.
The key to the effective management of PCOS is a healthy diet and an active lifestyle. A Diet chart for PCOS will contain the foods that improve the body's metabolism. Making small and sustainable changes to diet and physical activity patterns can greatly improve PCOS symptoms by keeping the weight under check.
Losing weight, in most cases, helps in improving insulin resistance, lowers blood glucose levels, and helps the hormones reach a normal range. Even a 10% loss in body weight may regularise the menstrual cycle.
Controlling PCOS with diet and lifestyle changes is the first step toward managing the disease resulting in the alleviation of PCOS symptoms.

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2. What Nutrition to Include in Your PCOS Diet?

The PCOS diet plan mainly focuses on meeting the person's nutritional needs, maintaining a healthy weight, and promoting a better insulin metabolism.

A typical diet chart for PCOS would contain foods that provide adequate calories and nutrients but by making correct food choices.

A variety of complex carbohydrates like whole cereals, whole pulses, a lot of fruits and vegetables, good quality proteins, and a restricted amount of healthy fats are the mainstay of the PCOS diet plan.

However, the diet for PCOS will restrict the use of processed foods, fatty and sugary foods, and drinks. Various other foods made from refined flour, loaded with fats and sugars, are also not a part of the diet.

Foods to eat for PCOS

  • Whole grains: Foods like whole wheat flour, bran, oats, broken wheat, and oats are all excellent sources of fiber. The fiber in these foods releases the sugar into the blood at a more controlled and regular pace, thus preventing the spikes in the blood sugar levels and improving insulin metabolism. Also, these foods keep the stomach full for a longer period, reducing the hunger pangs and craving to eat more which helps control the weight.
  • Protein: Skimmed milk and milk products, egg whites, lean portions of meat, whole pulses, legumes, and sprouts are the rich sources of protein. These foods are high on the satiety scale and furnish the body with good quality proteins. Proteins are essential nutrients for metabolism. When combined with complex carbohydrates, it forms a complete meal that meets the body's nutritional needs and helps keep the weight under control.
  • Green leafy vegetables: They are nutrient-rich and low in calories. In addition to this, they have a higher satiety value which helps in reducing the hunger pangs. Green vegetables and green leafy vegetables are both rich sources of vitamin B and antioxidants. Women suffering from PCOS are deficient in vitamin B, and thus these vegetables help to supplement the nutrient.
  • Healthy fats: Not all fats are bad. There are some good fats as well. These good fats are a source of essential fatty acids (omega-3 fatty acids) and play an important role in balancing the hormones and regulating the menstrual cycle. In addition to these, these healthy fats also help in controlling weight. Walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, avocados, etc., are all rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Foods to avoid for PCOS:

  • Processed foods: Processed and ready-to-eat foods mostly contain refined cereals, are laden with fat, and have higher sugar content. Because of this, these products have a higher glycemic index which adversely affects insulin metabolism. Also, the high fat and sugar content make such foods high in calories, making losing weight difficult and managing the disease difficult.
    This includes processed foods, such as biscuits, cakes, ready meals, jams, spreads, fruit juices, and fruit concentrates. However, rice, bread, and potatoes have high starch content, but they can be used in moderate amounts when combined with adequate amounts of vegetables.
  • Unhealthy Fats: Foods high in saturated fats like butter, ghee, cream, cheese, red meat, trans fats like re-used oil, and fried foods hurt PCOS. These unhealthy fats may increase estrogen production, worsening the PCOS symptoms. Such foods can also lead to weight gain, adversely affecting disease management.
  • Soy products: Though soy products are a good source of proteins, they might increase estrogen levels in patients with PCOS. Cutting out soy products from the diet plan of PCOS women may have a positive effect on the symptoms of the disease.

However, the diet chart for PCOS needs to be individualized and customized according to the suitability and sustainability of the women. No one plan can fit the need of all individuals.

3. Indian Diet Chart for PCOS

A diet plan for PCOS should include whole grain and complex carbohydrates in the form of rotis made with whole wheat flour, ragi, jowar, or bajra. In addition to this, pulses, seeds, and a lot of fruits and vegetables should be included in the diet to meet the requirement of all essential nutrients and antioxidants. Below is attached a sample diet plan for PCOS

Macronutrient Distribution:

Total Energy requirement: 20-25 Kcals/kg for Ideal Body Weight. (20 calories in case of obesity and 25 for overweight patients)
To calculate Ideal Bodyweight – Subtract height by 100.

Distribution for a 1200-1400 calorie diet:

  • Carbohydrates: 60–65 % of total energy – 180 to 250 gm
  • Proteins: 20–25 % of total energy – 60 to 75 gms
  • Fats: 15–17 % of total energy – 20 to 25 gms

Here is a simple and practical Indian diet plan for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. All the possible food items and their alternatives are mentioned as options. This can be adapted to suit individual needs and lifestyles.

Sample diet chart for PCOS

Early Morning: 1 glass lukewarm water + 10 gm soaked nuts (walnuts & almonds)
Breakfast (9:00 – 9:30 am): 200 ml milk/ 1 boiled egg + 40 gm raw/ 100 gm (cooked) upma/ poha/ ragi/ wheat/ jowar porridge/ 2 slices multi-grain bread +1fruit (1/2 apple/ 2-3 slices papaya)
Mid-morning meal (11:00 – 11:30 am): 200 ml buttermilk/ 8 halves of walnuts/ 20 gm roasted pumpkin seeds + 100 gm fruit
Lunch ( 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm): 40 gm cereal (wheat/ ragi/ jowar/ bajra/ makki) (2 flours can also mixed)/ 40 gm raw brown rice/ quinoa (soaked and boiled) + 30 gm raw dal (soaked and cooked in 1 tsp ghee) + 150 gm green leafy vegetable + 100 gm curd/ 50 gm paneer/ tofu
Mid-afternoon meal (4:00 – 5:00 pm): 1 cup tea (with less milk and no sugar)/ green tea/ black coffee + 20 roasted seeds/ 30 gm roasted makhana/ roasted chana
Evening snack ( 6:00 pm): 200 gm cut fruits + 10 gm roasted seeds
Dinner (7:00 pm- - 8:00 pm): Choose any one option listed below

75 gm sautéed chicken with vegetables and 30 gm raw rice/ quinoa (soaked and cooked)
100 gm paneer/ tofu with vegetables and 30 gm raw rice/ quinoa;
30 gm raw rice (soaked and cooked) + 75 gm cooked dal + green vegetables
2-3 Idli + 75 gm cooked sambhar with vegetables
150 gm cooked vegetable khichri + 1 tsp ghee

Note: To determine your unique body requirements, consult a nutritionist.

4. Best Exercises for PCOS

Leading a physically active life is very important for women suffering from PCOS. Consistent exercise helps with weight management, improves mood, can resolve fertility issues, and lowers disease risk, along with numerous other health benefits.

Regular exercise helps in correcting insulin sensitivity by improving the uptake of insulin by the cells and reducing weight, particularly in the belly area. This has a significant effect on the symptoms of PCOS.

No one type of exercise can be considered the best exercise for PCOS. A combination of cardio, strength training, HIIT, yoga, and pilates is considered to be useful. Also, in most cases, it’s a personal choice and suitability of an individual regarding the choice of type of exercise. Moderate exercises like brisk walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling are all great exercises for PCOS.

Doing 30 minutes or more a day for 5 days a week can help with weight management as well as relieve the various symptoms of PCOS.
Although walking is the most under-rated exercise, it is considered the best exercise for PCOS as it can be done anywhere and requires no specific equipment.
While it is easy to advocate for exercise, many people find it hard to exercise regularly. But with the proper mindset and approach, it is possible to turn it into a habit.
Also, many people fail to stick with a fitness plan because of opting for unsustainable exercise routines. The best PCOS exercise plan is the one that is practical, sustainable, and enjoyable for one to perform.

Also Read: PCOS and Infertility: Causes, Effects on fertility, and Complications


PCOS is a very common problem in females of reproductive age. In addition to medical treatment, diet therapy and exercise play an important role in managing PCOS. PCOS diet plan mainly focuses on making lifestyle changes and weight reduction. Even a 10% reduction in weight may help improve the symptoms of the disease.
For proper guidance through all these to achieve the goal of a healthy lifestyle, you should meet Dr. Preeti Singh. She is the best gynecologist in town. She will help you understand your health issues in a better way and thus, manage them correctly for better results.
Dr. Preeti Singh is a renowned Obstetrician-Gynaecologist in Noida. At her clinic, your fertility-related issues will be dealt with with great care and expertise. With her experience and expertise, you will be able to manage your disease better and learn how to control PCOS with diet.