Are you looking for high-protein meal ideas that are PCOS-friendly? Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal and metabolic disorder characterized by irregular or missing periods, increased androgens (male hormones), and multiple ovarian cysts.
While PCOS can cause many unwanted symptoms including acne, abnormal hair growth, and weight gain, a healthy diet can play an essential role in managing these symptoms.
Protein is one of the most important macronutrients for a healthy PCOS diet. Incorporating high-protein meals into your day can help regulate blood sugar levels, reduce insulin resistance, and promote weight loss.
In today’s article, I will be going over how to build a PCOS-friendly dinner plate that prioritizes protein. I will also be providing you with five high-protein meal ideas for when you need some inspiration in the kitchen!
How Can High Protein Meal Ideas Help with PCOS?
When you are first diagnosed with PCOS it can be very difficult to know where to turn and what to eat. Diet is so crucial to managing PCOS symptoms because 50-70% of women with PCOS have insulin resistance.
In general, a PCOS diet should focus on:
- Lean protein sources
- High fiber foods
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Anti-inflammatory foods
- Low glycemic index foods
Lean protein sources are especially important for PCOS and are what we will focus on in today’s blog. Since women with PCOS are often insulin resistant, their bodies may have a harder time processing carbohydrates.
Protein, on the other hand, has little effect on blood sugar levels and can help regulate insulin secretion, making it an ideal macronutrient for women with PCOS.
Additionally, protein has been shown to promote feelings of fullness, which can help reduce overeating and promote weight loss. Weight loss can be very challenging with PCOS, but is important for managing the condition.
If you need additional guidance, consulting with a specialized PCOS dietitian like myself can help to ensure you tackle your PCOS symptoms and loss weight sustainably.
How do I Build a PCOS Plate?
While I give you all the information and the types of foods you should be eating in my PCOS-friendly food blog, I understand the difficulty of taking these separate food components and building them into a meal you look forward to eating.
Here are a few tips for building a PCOS Plate:
- Aim for 20+ grams of protein per meal (3-4 ounces of chicken, meat, or fish)
- Fill half your plate with non-starchy veggies (broccoli, leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, etc.)
- Fill ½ of your plate with whole grains or starchy veggies (potatoes, beans, squash, quinoa, and brown rice)
- Add a healthy source of fat (avocado or olive oil)
Combining all of these elements into a meal will create a blood sugar-balancing plate that will keep you satisfied and your hormones happy- making it perfect for PCOS.
High Protein Meal Ideas for PCOS
Now we will get into some high-protein meal inspirations that are PCOS-friendly. If you are struggling with what to make for your meals, try out one of these ideas below!
Remember that you can modify any of the meals based on your preferences and dietary restrictions.
Quinoa, Tomato, Corn, and Black Bean Salad with Grilled Chicken
Quinoa is a great source of whole grains and also provides a solid amount of protein at eight grams per cup. Creating a quinoa salad full of fresh produce makes for quick and easy meal prep for the week.
Top the salad with 4-6 ounces of grilled chicken or turkey for an extra protein boost to keep you satiated until your next meal!
- Cook quinoa using the package directions. Add chopped cherry tomatoes, kerneled corn, and black beans.
- Make a dressing mixture with olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and honey.
- Top the salad with 4-6 ounces of grilled chicken. Combine together and serve.
Sheet Pan Salmon, Sweet Potato, and Brussel Sprouts
This sheet pan salmon meal is super easy to prep and makes for easy clean-up!
Salmon provides a great source of protein at 23 grams for 4 ounces. It is also high in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
Brussel sprouts are a high fiber, non-starchy veggie great for filling up and giving volume to your plate. Lastly, adding sweet potatoes gives you extra fiber as well as beta-carotene which is converted into Vitamin A in the body.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place fresh salmon on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil.
- Cut up your Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. Place around the salmon fillets.
- Drizzle olive oil on top. Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika.
- Bake until the salmon reaches the proper internal temperature and the sweet potatoes are tender.
Greek Yogurt Parfait with Berries, Chia Seeds, and Flax Seeds
Greek yogurt is a solid source of protein at around 15 grams per serving. Additionally, greek yogurt provides beneficial probiotics for gut health as well.
Topping it off with some fresh berries is a great way to add in some fiber and antioxidants. Combining with other toppings such as chia and flax seeds makes this an amazing blood sugar-balancing breakfast that you can eat on the go.
- Choose your favorite non-fat Greek yogurt.
- I love Two Good and Fage because of their high quality and low sugar content.
- Wash and prep your berries of choice. Add them on top of the yogurt.
- Choose the rest of your toppings. Ideas include:
- Flax, chia, and hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, low-sugar granola, mixed nuts, nut butter, and honey for a bit of sweetness.
Tofu and Veggie Stir Fry
For my vegetarian PCOS ladies, a tofu veggie stir fry can be a perfect high-protein meal option to include in your diet. Tofu is a source of soy protein that has been researched to improve insulin resistance and decrease oxidative stress and excess androgens.
- Press the tofu to dry and season it with garlic powder, pepper, and a little salt.
- Throw into a frying pan with some olive oil and minced garlic and cook till crisp.
- Cook in the same pan broccoli, fresh green beans, and peppers to give the meal some fiber.
- Prepare and cook brown rice noodles according to their package. Brown rice can also be used.
- Top with coconut aminos, a healthier alternative to soy sauce, and enjoy!
Grass Fed Beef and Bean Tacos with Whole Wheat Tortillas
Grass-fed beef is a great source of protein, iron, and B Vitamins. It differs from grain-fed beef because it has less saturated fat which can cause inflammation in the body.
Cooking up ground grass-fed beef with low-sodium taco seasoning serves as a great base for your next Taco Tuesday. Adding black beans to the taco along with sliced avocado and salsa can add some extra flavor as well as fiber and healthy fats.
- Prep your grass-fed ground beef and saute it in a pan. Add low-sodium taco seasoning.
- Rinse and drain a can of black beans. Add to the ground beef.
- Saute vegetables of your choice, my favorites are roasted peppers and onions, broccoli, and zucchini.
- Heat whole wheat tortillas and start assembling your tacos.
- Top with sliced avocado, salsa, and/or pico de gallo. If you are looking for a healthier sour cream alternative, try Greek yogurt mixed with spices.
High Protein Meal Ideas for PCOS: The Takeaway
There are plenty of meal combinations you can cook up to manage your PCOS symptoms. These are just a few of my favorites that you can include in your meal planning.
Remember to try to include a protein source in as many meals as you can, to promote satiety and improve insulin resistance.
There is not one perfect meal for PCOS and I encourage you to mix it up. Try new foods and recipes to keep things interesting. Eating healthy does not have to be boring!
If you want further guidance on meal planning and nutrition around PCOS, in my nutrition coaching program, we work together to come up with a personalized plan that prioritizes high-protein meals and other macronutrients to achieve your health goals.
Don’t let PCOS control your life, take control of your health today and head over to my services page for support and guidance on your journey to your best health!