PCOS: Make it a Pair with Protein

PCOS BlogFor young women with PCOS, we recommend eating a balanced diet which includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and protein. Protein is important for rebuilding muscles and repairing tissues in the body and helps keep blood sugar level. It also keeps us full between meals. Our bodies don’t have a way to store extra protein which is why we need to eat some at every meal and snack. Here are some foods that contain protein:

  • Tofu
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese)*
  • Soy milk**
  • Nuts
  • Nut butter
  • Hummus
  • Seeds

*Note: dairy foods that are higher in fat, such as ice cream and cream cheese, don’t tend to have much protein.

**Note: other non-dairy “milks” such as almond milk and coconut milk do NOT contain very much protein and are not recommended as a source of protein unless the Nutrition Facts Label lists 8g or more of protein per cup.

Because of its important role in regulating blood sugar, we always recommend pairing protein when eating carbohydrates. Carbohydrates raise blood sugar, and protein can help to keep it from going as high, as quickly. Here are some ideas for incorporating protein into your day, besides the typical ways you might already think of (such as including meat or tofu with dinner):

  • Replace sour cream with protein-packed plain Greek yogurt for a similar taste
  • Make a salad out of quinoa, chickpeas, and diced veggies with vinaigrette dressing
  • Pack a yogurt to go with your lunch or enjoy frozen as a treat on a hot day
  • Find a flavor of turkey jerky or meat stick you enjoy and keep one in your bag
  • Blend Greek yogurt into a smoothie with frozen fruit
  • Keep hard boiled eggs in the refrigerator and grab when on-the-go with your breakfast
  • Drink a glass of milk or soy milk when enjoying a food that is higher in carbohydrates
  • Create a dip for veggies or crackers using plain Greek yogurt mixed with salsa or blended avocado
  • Keep a stash of string cheese at home for an on-the-go snack
  • Spread refried beans on tortilla chips and sprinkle with salsa
  • Add scrambled egg to stir-fries or noodle dishes
  • When making pasta choose one made from bean or lentil flour (brands include Banza®, Tolerant®, and Pow!™)
  • Bring an individual-size peanut butter (either packet or container) to enjoy with your apple or banana
  • Make baggies of trail mix featuring nuts, seeds, and a little bit of dried fruit or chocolate
  • Snack on dried edamame or chips made from chickpea flour
  • Mix ricotta cheese or cottage cheese into tomato sauce for your pasta

Regardless of what type of protein you choose, make it a part of your routine to include it at every meal or snack. Soon you won’t be able to remember what life was like back when you didn’t think to pair foods with protein!

– Dietitian Katrina