Approximately 10% of women develop a hormonal disorder called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). It tends to be passed down in families and the exact cause is unknown. Some symptoms of PCOS include infrequent menstrual periods, infertility due to lack of ovulation, increased hair growth on the face and body, acne and weight gain. 

Women with PCOS often have insulin resistance resulting in too much insulin in the body, which can increase the risk for type 2 diabetes. They also have increased production of male hormones. These hormonal abnormalities can cause metabolic and reproductive disruptions. According to the CDC, PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility and affects between 6% and 12% of women of reproductive age in the United States.  

If you have been diagnosed with PCOS, your physician will work with you on the right treatment plan. Dietitians are often part of the medical team treating this disorder to assist with things you can control, including focusing on the following areas.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Weight loss can lower insulin and androgen levels, which may help restore ovulation. Our dietitians recommend creating sustainable weight loss goals and cutting back on portions of processed foods. Your physician may recommend weight loss through a low-calorie diet combined with exercise. Even a modest reduction in weight — for example, losing 5% of your body weight — might improve your condition. Losing weight and maintaining weight within your recommended range may also increase the effectiveness of medications that treat PCOS, and it can help with infertility.

Increase Moderate Exercise Daily

Exercise helps lower blood sugar levels. If you have PCOS, increasing your daily activity and getting regular moderate exercise may treat or even prevent insulin resistance. Being active may also help keep your weight under control and reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Something as simple as a daily 20-30 minute walk after a meal can be effective. Another exercise to consider trying and adding to your daily routine include HITT training (combining short intervals of high-intensity exercise with rest periods). Stress-relieving and strengthening exercises like yoga, pilates or tai chi have also been shown to have positive effects in reducing and managing the symptoms of PCOS.

Follow a Low-Carbohydrate, High-Fiber Diet

High-carbohydrate diets might make insulin levels go higher, which is why it is recommended that women should have no more than 24 grams of added sugar per day. Work with your dietician to determine how to stay within your limit.

Choose complex carbohydrates and foods that are higher in fiber, which raise your blood sugar levels more slowly than simple carbohydrates like white bread, breakfast cereals and pasta, which should be removed or greatly reduced in your diet. Foods that are considered complex carbohydrates and can be incorporated into a PCOS diet include fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains (quinoa, whole wheat pasta) and cooked beans.  

PCOS-Friendly Avocado Chicken Salad Recipe

Avocado Chicken Salad


  • 4 medium chicken breast
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 minced red onion
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 minced jalapeño or serrano pepper (optional)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 shredded head of romaine lettuce
  • 2 diced avocados
  • 3 tbsp lime juice


Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper to taste. Bake, grill or use an instant pot to cook the chicken and once cooked, allow a few minutes to cool shred or cut into bite-sized pieces.

In a large bowl, combine the lettuce and quinoa, with half the lime juice, and all of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss ingredients until it is coated throughout.

Using a separate bowl, add the diced chicken, avocado, and remaining ingredients together. Season to taste and mix together. You can choose to mash up the avocado with the rest of the ingredients to give it more of a chunky "guacamole" texture. Serve the chicken and avocado mixture over the bed of lettuce and quinoa.

Nutritional Values Per Serving (Serves 4)

Calories: 410
Total Fat: 19 g
Saturated Fat: 3g
Monounsaturated Fat:10g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g
Sodium: 441mg
Carbohydrate: 22mg
Sugars: 3mg
Protein: 39 mg