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PCOS Diet: Top Foods That Lower Insulin Levels

Living with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) often feels like a relentless cycle of symptoms, one of which is the struggle to manage insulin levels effectively. Trust us; you’re not alone in this journey.   

You can achieve hormonal balance in PCOS and make meaningful strides toward lasting wellness through smart dietary choices and lifestyle changes. This blog will explore the top foods you should include in your PCOS diet. Let’s get started!  

Understanding the Connection Between PCOS and Insulin Resistance  

Understanding the link between PCOS and insulin resistance is crucial in your journey to better health. PCOS is a hormonal disorder that can affect a woman’s health, including her menstrual cycle, fertility, and appearance. Insulin resistance, a condition where the body’s cells become less responsive to the insulin hormone, is a hallmark of PCOS and the reason behind these signs and symptoms.   

In many cases, insulin resistance worsens hormonal imbalances, leading to a vicious cycle of PCOS weight gain and elevated levels of androgens (male hormones). Therefore, managing insulin levels becomes essential to improving PCOS symptoms 

Why Insulin Management for PCOS Matters  

With insulin resistance being the root cause of your PCOS symptoms, understanding how to keep insulin levels in check is vital. By reading this blog, you’re already on the right track! Recognizing this connection offers a pathway for proactive treatment by adopting a Low Insulin Lifestyle. Simply choosing to avoid foods that spike your insulin is all it takes!   

So, what foods lower insulin levels and can contribute to hormonal balance in PCOS?   

Best PCOS-Friendly Foods for Lowering Insulin  

As you work to manage your PCOS, focusing on the right dietary choices is crucial for controlling insulin levels and achieving hormonal balance.   

1. Non-starchy vegetables  

Non-starchy vegetables are about the lowest insulin-spiking foods you can eat. Therefore, you can eat as many non-starchy veggies as you want. The more, the better! Here are just a few of the near-endless options available:  

  • Arugula  
  • Asparagus  
  • Bell peppers  
  • Broccoli  
  • Brussels sprouts  
  • Carrots  
  • Cauliflower  
  • Cucumbers  
  • Edamame  
  • Eggplant  
  • Garlic  
  • Ginger  
  • Green beans  
  • Kale  
  • Leafy greens  
  • Mushrooms  
  • Onions  
  • Spaghetti squash  
  • Zucchini  

These fiber-rich veggies offer essential vitamins and minerals critical to your PCOS diet. By prioritizing these options, you’re actively managing your PCOS and reversing insulin resistance.  

If you find it hard to part ways with starchy vegetables while managing your PCOS, there’s a compromise. Consuming starchy vegetables like butternut squash only when in season allows you to enjoy these foods while minimizing their impact on your insulin levels.   

Seasonal consumption restricts your intake and ensures you benefit from the vegetable’s peak nutritional value. In this way, you can still have your starchy favorites occasionally without negatively affecting your progress in insulin management for PCOS.  

2. Fruits for PCOS  

Let’s dispel the myth that fruits are unhealthy because they contain too much sugar. The only thing that makes a food fattening is how much it spikes your insulin, your fat-storage hormone. When eaten in naturally occurring amounts, fructose, compared to glucose, doesn’t affect insulin as much.   

Naturally occurring fructose in whole fruits is packed with fiber and water, which help prevent overconsumption. For this reason, it’s best to avoid dried fruit and fruit juices since they don’t have the same fiber and water content.   

So, enjoy nature’s dessert and give your body and taste buds the sweet treat they’ve been craving!  

For more information about how fruits for PCOS lower insulin, you can visit our “Fruit is on the menu” blog.  

3. Go nuts  

Nuts and seeds are other options that can be written off as too fattening. While they contain fat, they’re the healthy fats you should prioritize and ensure you’re eating enough. Not only are nuts delicious and versatile, but they are also friendly to your insulin levels. Since nuts are fiber-rich foods and contain healthy fats, they slow digestion, curbing those sudden insulin spikes and keeping you fuller for longer. So go ahead, sprinkle some on your salad, or have a handful as a snack. Your body will thank you.  

Lean meats  

While everyone knows protein is essential to a balanced diet, looking at the source is necessary. Although it’s ideal to opt for meats that are organic, grass-fed, or free-range, the price point may not fit everyone’s budget.   

Choosing whether to eat lean versus fattier meats depends on how often you plan to eat animal protein. You can still aim to buy readily available cuts of protein and simply trim off any excess fat. This allows you to benefit from the protein and nutritional value while keeping you aligned with your PCOS and insulin management goals.  

Here are some of our top picks formeat:   

  • Sirloin steak 
  • Ground beef (90/10)  
  • Pork tenderloin 
  • Lamb chops 
  • Beef roast 

As for poultry, you don’t have to stick with skinless chicken breasts! Options include:  

  • Thighs  
  • Drumsticks  
  • Wings  
  • Ground  
  • Sausage  

Be selective with dairy and milk alternatives  

Many milk options contain whey protein, which causes significant insulin spikes. That’s why it’s crucial to opt for alternatives like unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk, or even small amounts of heavy cream, which are less likely to spike insulin levels. 

Go for full-fat and unsweetened Greek yogurt and full-fat cheese when picking cheese or yogurt. These fermented dairy products have less whey and more casein, which doesn’t spike insulin as drastically. As always, moderation is key.  

Check the Ingredients: Your New PCOS Diet Shopping Strategy  

Walking down grocery aisles can be overwhelming, but when you’re following a Low Insulin Lifestyle, it gets simpler. Forget counting carbs or calories—focus on the ingredient list.   

Try to avoid:   

  • Added and/or processed sugars (sugar, high fructose corn syrup, agave, honey, etc.)  
  • Unhealthy oils (vegetable oil, corn oil, soybean oil, palm oil, canola oil, etc.)  
  • Starches (rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, corn, beans, grains, etc.)  
  • Milk and whey protein  

Lilli Health: Your PCOS Coach for a Low Insulin Lifestyle  

We know this is challenging. Living with PCOS and insulin resistance is a journey you didn’t choose but face daily. You’re juggling symptoms, deciphering medical advice, and finding your path to wellness. It’s a challenge that takes emotional and mental strength to overcome.  

But here’s the thing—you don’t have to go alone. At Lilli Health, we’re here to help you take control, find support, and start to see change. By opting for a low insulin lifestyle, you’re making a conscious choice for your health, acknowledging your needs, and taking steps toward overcoming PCOS.  

For the complete list of foods that do and don’t spike insulin, along with the science behind a low insulin lifestyle, grab our book Low Insulin Lifestyle today!  

This comprehensive guide is filled with science-backed strategies and education designed to help you sustainably control your PCOS symptoms and insulin levels. Looking to get the latest insights and tips sent straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our newsletter and join the Lilli Health community!