Is chicken good for PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. It is characterized by a variety of symptoms including irregular menstrual cycles, excess hair growth, acne, and obesity. Many women with PCOS struggle with weight management, which can exacerbate symptoms. As a result, diet modification is an important part of PCOS treatment. This raises the question – is chicken good for women with PCOS trying to lose weight and manage symptoms?

Chicken is a lean, protein-rich food that can be part of a healthy PCOS diet. However, not all chicken is created equal. The way chicken is prepared and what it is eaten with impacts whether it will help or hinder a PCOS weight loss diet. overall, chicken can be a nutritious choice for women with PCOS when prepared in a healthy way and eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

PCOS and Weight Management

Weight management is critical for women with PCOS for several reasons:

– Obesity exacerbates insulin resistance which underlies many PCOS symptoms. Losing even a modest amount of weight can improve insulin sensitivity and hormonal imbalance in women with PCOS.

– Women with PCOS are at higher risk for chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, especially if they are overweight. Losing weight can reduce these obesity-related health risks.

– Being overweight often worsens PCOS symptoms like irregular periods, fertility issues, skin problems, and excess hair growth. Weight loss often leads to improvement in these areas.

– Losing just 5-10% of body weight has been shown to regulate menstrual cycles and increase fertility rates in overweight women with PCOS.

So achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight through diet and exercise should be a priority for overweight and obese women with PCOS. This makes choosing the right foods very important.

Is Chicken a Good Protein Choice for PCOS?

Most experts recommend a high protein diet for women with PCOS, to increase satiety and avoid spikes in blood sugar levels. Protein is also important for preserving or building lean muscle mass when losing weight.

Chicken breast is one of the most popular high protein options. A 3-ounce portion of roasted chicken breast with the skin removed contains 27g of protein and only around 140 calories. By comparison, the same portion of roast beef has 26g protein and 200 calories.

So in terms of protein-to-calorie ratio, chicken breast is an optimal choice. Chicken is also lower in saturated fat than red meats. The rich protein content of chicken helps you feel fuller for longer after eating it, which curbs overeating.

Additionally, chicken does not seem to interact negatively with metabolic aspects of PCOS as some other animal proteins may:

– A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found young women with PCOS who ate high protein diets (30% of calories from protein) had improved testosterone levels and insulin resistance compared to those who ate lower protein diets. Chicken was included as one of the main protein sources.

– Another study showed a high protein breakfast with eggs and chicken increased fullness and reduced snacking compared to a high carbohydrate breakfast in women with PCOS.

So chicken specifically may offer benefits beyond its protein content for women with PCOS. Overall the evidence supports chicken as a smart protein choice as part of a PCOS weight loss diet.

How Should Chicken Be Prepared for a PCOS Diet?

While chicken is a lean protein, the way it is cooked and prepared can add excess calories, fat, and sodium. Here are some tips for preparing chicken in a PCOS-friendly way:

– Choose skinless chicken breast over thighs and wings to reduce fat intake. Breaded and fried chicken should also be avoided.

– Bake, grill, roast or poach chicken instead of frying in oil. This greatly reduces the calories and fat. Spice it up with fresh herbs and spices instead of buttery sauces.

– Watch portion sizes and aim for 3-4 ounces per serving to control calories. Weighing or measuring protein portions can be helpful.

– Flavor chicken with fresh lemon and herbs like rosemary, thyme and oregano instead of high sodium marinades and condiments.

– Avoid preprocessed deli meats like chicken nuggets and patties, as they are often made with fillers and loaded with sodium. Prep your own fresh chicken instead.

– For easy high protein snacks or meal prep, cook a batch of plain shredded chicken breast to keep on hand.

Following these tips ensures chicken retains its low calorie, high protein benefits instead of becoming another fatty, salty indulgence.

What Should Chicken Be Paired With for PCOS?

While chicken is a smart protein choice, what it is combined with in meals and snacks is also important for PCOS. Here are some healthy sides and ingredients that complement chicken in a PCOS diet:

– Non-starchy vegetables like zucchini, broccoli, peppers, spinach and greens. These provide nutrients and fiber.

– Small servings of starchy carbs like potatoes, sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa or legumes. Watch portions of these.

– Healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds – don’t skimp on these for satiety.

– Fresh herbs, spices, garlic and lemon instead of heavy sauces and condiments.

– Salads with leafy greens, veggies and a vinagrette dressing.

A few balanced meal ideas with chicken include:

– Chicken veggie stir fry with broccoli and cauliflower rice

– Chicken tacos with peppers, onions, salsa and greens on corn tortillas.

– Chicken salad stuffed in a tomato with kale and avocado

– Sheet pan chicken breasts and roasted vegetables

– Chicken vegetable soup or chili with cannellini beans

By pairing chicken with plenty of fiber-rich plant foods, healthy fats and moderate carbs, meals will be nutritious and keep you feeling full. This prevents overeating and supports weight goals for women with PCOS.

Potential Drawbacks of Chicken for PCOS

While chicken is likely safe as part of a PCOS diet for most women, there are a few potential drawbacks to keep in mind:

Hormones and antibiotics in chicken – Conventionally raised chicken may contain traces of hormones and antibiotics that could disrupt hormone sensitive conditions like PCOS. Opting for organic chicken when possible may be beneficial.

Allergies – Chicken is one of the most common food allergens, along with eggs. Women who suspect food sensitivities may wish to eliminate chicken for a period to check for reactions.

Poultry and inflammation – Some sources suggest limiting poultry may help reduce inflammation. Since chronic inflammation can exacerbate PCOS, eating a variety of protein sources like seafood and plant proteins may be beneficial.

These drawbacks should not discourage eating chicken altogether, but highlight the importance of moderation, rotation with other proteins, and choosing quality chicken whenever possible. Discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider.

Guidelines for Eating Chicken with PCOS

Here are some general guidelines for including chicken in a healthy diet with PCOS:

– 3-4 ounces of chicken 1-2 times per day is a good goal for protein requirements. This is about the size of a deck of cards.

– Choose skinless chicken breast over thighs/legs and processed forms like nuggets to limit fat intake.

– Prepare chicken by baking, grilling, sautéing or poaching – avoid frying. Use fresh herbs and spices to add flavor.

– Pair chicken with non-starchy vegetables, a moderate portion of carbs like potatoes or rice, and healthy fats like nuts or olive oil.

– Evaluate chicken intake if you suspect a food sensitivity. Eliminate for a period, then reintroduce while monitoring symptoms.

– Rotate chicken with other lean proteins like fish, eggs, lentils, tofu and tempeh for a diversity of nutrients.

– Opt for organic chicken when possible to reduce hormones and antibiotics.

Following these tips will help ensure chicken is part of balanced PCOS diet and weight loss plan. Check with your healthcare team on how much protein is right for your individual needs.

Sample Meal Plan with Chicken for PCOS

Here is a sample 1-day meal plan incorporating chicken for someone with PCOS:

Breakfast: Veggie omelet with 3 egg whites, 1 whole egg, spinach, red peppers, onions. Side of 1⁄2 grapefruit.

Lunch: Chicken kale salad – 3oz roasted chicken breast sliced over greens with avocado, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers. Olive oil & vinegar dressing.

Snack: 1⁄4 cup raw unsalted almonds

Dinner: Baked chicken breast with roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potato. Side salad.

This provides around 30g protein per meal, balanced nutrition, and a variety of food choices while keeping calories in check for weight loss. Chicken is included at lunch and dinner along with plant foods and healthy fats.


Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about chicken and PCOS:

Is chicken or fish better for PCOS?
Both are good options. Fish provides heart healthy omega-3s while chicken is lean and protein rich. Eating both for variety is recommended.

How much chicken can you eat a day with PCOS?
3-4 ounces of chicken one or two times daily is appropriate based on protein needs. Watch portions and avoid going overboard.

Is fried chicken bad for PCOS?
Yes, choose baked, grilled or roasted chicken instead of fried. Frying adds a lot of fat and calories that can hinder weight loss.

What about deli chicken meat for snacks?
Preprocessed chicken deli meats are often high in sodium. Make your own fresh chicken salad or shred chicken ahead for snacks instead.

Can you eat chicken skin with PCOS?
Chicken skin should be removed before eating to reduce fat and calories. The skin contains a high percentage of the fat in chicken.

Is chicken broth okay for PCOS?
Yes, plain chicken broth and homemade stocks can add flavor. Just watch the sodium content of store-bought broths and limit to 1 cup per day.

The Bottom Line

Chicken can be part of a healthy diet for managing PCOS symptoms like excess weight and infertility. Skinless breast is the optimal way to prepare chicken to maximize protein content while minimizing fat and calories. Pair chicken with lots of non-starchy vegetables, limit starchy carbohydrates, and choose healthy fats for balanced nutrition. While most women do fine eating moderate amounts of chicken, pay attention to any signs of reactions. Chicken is best enjoyed as part of varied protein intake, not as a staple every single day. Follow basic nutrition principles of moderation and balance for success managing PCOS with chicken in your diet.

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