Can you manage your PCOS on a vegetarian diet plan?
The majority of women with PCOS have some level of insulin resistance. The challenge with the vegetarian diet is that many of the proteins associated with this diet plan are also carbohydrates. However, with intentional meal planning and balancing, you can eat vegetarian meals and still improve your insulin resistance. It just takes a little more thought.
Balancing meals is important with insulin resistance. When we eat carbohydrate foods, our body releases insulin to help shuttle the glucose (which comes from carbs) into our cells. With insulin resistance, this process is less effective. Causing more insulin to be produced. Elevated insulin can cause several PCOS symptoms like anovulation, weight gain, and elevated testosterone.
An effective PCOS diet plan balances those carbs with protein, fat, and fiber to help slow the rise of glucose and therefore improve the insulin response. On a vegetarian diet, we just have to be more intentional about the protein choices and how to pair them with carbs for better blood sugars.
Vegetarian Protein Sources
There are several protein sources that are vegetarian (some vegan too) that are lower in carbohydrate.
Lower Carbohydrate Protein Sources
Yogurt (low sugar varieties)
Faux meat products – Beyond meat, Impossible meat, Gardein products, etc
Textured vegetable protein
Some protein sources are also good sources of other macronutrients, like fat.
Higher Fat Protein Sources
- Nut Butters
- Hemp hearts
Then there are vegetarian protein sources that are higher in carbohydrate.
Higher Carb Protein Sources
Bean products (bean pasta, pizza crust, roasted bean snacks, etc)
These are wonderful to incorporate and are a nutritious part of our diets, but if insulin resistant, too big of a portion is going to cause a greater insulin response. All of these foods (except milk) are also great sources of fiber, which help in blood sugar control. It’s not about cutting them out, but knowing how to incorporate them into your meals.
So how do we make balanced meals for a better insulin response?
Vegetarian Recipes for PCOS
An award winning recipe developer, Dietitian Kaitlin’s mission is to empower others to reach their health goals by encouraging them to get back into the kitchen. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating and Cooking with Diabetes.