PCOS Diet – What does the International Evidence Based Guidelines Say?
The most important pcos diet question is “in women with PCOS, are diet interventions effective for improving weight loss, metabolic, fertility and emotional wellbeing outcomes” ..
..the International Guidelines for the Assessment and Management of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome 2018 recommend that there needs to be a diet that has a caloric deficit for the purposes of losing weight.
In plain English that means eating less calories than you burn till you reach a healthy weight.
But what foods can I eat with PCOS?
Well again the evidence based guidelines say there are no special diet type recommended. It need not be macro nutrient rich or poor. Eg High fat, low fat, low carb , high protein etc.
“There was no difference for the majority of the anthropometric, metabolic, fertility, non-fertility, QoL and emotional wellbeing outcomes, however, regardless of the type of diet.” International evidence-based guideline for the assessment and management of polycystic ovary syndrome 2018
What foods should I eat with PCOS?
There are no specific foods to eat on the PCOS diet. No specific breads. No specific fruits. No specific anything other than eating healthy.
“General healthy eating principles should be followed for all women with PCOS across the life course, as per general population recommendations.” International evidence-based guideline for the assessment and management of polycystic ovary syndrome 2018
What matters on the PCOS diet is creating an energy deficit of around 30% to lose excess weight.
You can use our Daily Marco Calculator to work out a daily caloric target based on your preferences. (Opens in Facebook Messenger.)
Let’s look at an example. Say you are 162 cm tall and weigh 70 kg the Australian Heart Foundation would say that a healthy weight range is 48.6 – 65.3 kg based on your Body mass Index.
What is an alternative to Body Mass Index (BMI)?
BMI is getting a bit outdated and this calculation may look unrealistic to you. A more modern calculation is RFM or Relative Fat Mass.
According to the American Council On Exercise, a healthy body fat percentage for men is under 32% for women. (Under 25% for men).
You can calculate your RFM% using the Messenger RFM calculator here. No need for fancy scales or pinching callipers, just needs your waist measurement and height.
When you know where you are at, eat a sensible PCS diet each day, you can compare your progress, this week compared to last week or against the benchmarks in the table below.
What body fat percentage should I aim for?
So if you know where you are at, you are eating a healthy pcos diet that matches your lifestyle choice, not a fad and now you want to set a realistic goal to achieve.
We would suggest one level down from where you currently are at. A healthy relative fat mass for women is under 32% and under 25% for men.
If you are currently obese 2 aim for obese 1. Achieve that and keep going. Don’t set a goal to far away and hard to achieve. Give yourself the milestones to celebrate along the way.
Description Women Men
Essential fat 10–13% 3–5%
Athletes 14–20% 6–13%
Fitness 21–24% 14–17%
Average 25–31% 18–24%
Class 1 Obesity 30%+ 34.9%+
Class 2 Obesity 35%+ 39.9%+
Class 3 Obesity 40%+ 80%+
We hope this clears up some myths and gives you some concrete actions to take to improve your health.
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Teede, Helen et al. “International evidence-based guideline for the assessment and management of polycystic ovary syndrome 2018.” Monash University, (c) Monash University on behalf of the NHMRC, Centre for Research Excellence in PCOS and the Australian PCOS Alliance 2018, February 2018, monash.edu/medicine/sphpm/mchri/pcos. Accessed 22 Aug 2019.
Author Unknown. “BMI Calculator.” Home | The Heart Foundation, National Heart Foundation of Australia, (c)2005/12/14, https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/know-your-risks/healthy-weight/bmi-calculator. Accessed 22 Aug 2019.
Author Unknown. “Body fat percentage.” Wikipedia, last edited on 1 August 2019, at 14:27 (UTC)., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_fat_percentage . Accessed 22 Aug 2019.