Protein Powder for PCOS: Benefits, Dosage, and Best Types

Protein Powder for PCOS

Protein powders are a fast and convenient way to increase your protein intake, which can be crucial when you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). 


Studies have shown that not only can a high-protein diet reduce testosterone levels in women with PCOS, but it can also improve self-esteem and alleviate depression caused by PCOS symptoms like menstrual irregularities, acne, hair loss, and hirsutism (excess hair growth).


PCOS weight loss is also one of the most celebrated benefits of taking protein powder, as protein increases feelings of satiety better than fat or carbs. 


High protein intake is also linked with increased heat production, leading to a higher calorie burn rate. 


Lastly, protein intake promotes muscle mass and growth over fat, drastically improving one’s body composition.

How Protein Impacts PCOS

Let’s take a look at how and why exactly protein can be great for PCOS Cysters:

The Role of Protein in Hormone Regulation

Proteins play an important role in hormone synthesis. 


This is very important because hormones serve as chemical “messages” that our endocrine glands make whenever stimulated. 


Hormones are then transported via the blood to target cells, where they communicate messages that will initiate cellular processes or specific reactions within the body.


In the context of PCOS specifically, insulin sensitivity plays a significant role in improving symptoms. 


Whenever you eat, blood sugar levels rise, and the pancreas releases insulin, a hormone, in response. 


Insulin then communicates to the cells that glucose is readily available for cells to “pick up” from the blood and use it to build macromolecules, make energy, or store it.


With PCOS, insulin resistance is fairly common, making this process a bit more complicated as cells become less sensitive to these signals as the blood gets inundated with glucose. 


A high-protein, insulin-friendly PCOS diet will work wonders in this area.

Impact on Insulin Resistance and Blood Sugar Levels

Research also reveals that proteins promote insulin secretion, which can then speed up the process of mopping up extra glucose in the bloodstream. 


This means that consuming the right amount of protein can help you crave less, feel fuller longer, and have a more balanced blood sugar level.


Medical professionals warn, however, that over the long term, excessively high protein intake may also increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. 


Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), which are a commonly used type of amino acid in the fitness community, may also be associated with diabetes risk if not used appropriately. 


As such, care must always be taken in finding out the ideal amounts of protein to be consumed as part of one’s diet.

Protein’s Influence on PCOS Weight Management

Studies have shown that a high-protein diet can indeed be beneficial for PCOS. 


A Denmark study revealed that people with PCOS who followed a six-month high-protein diet lost approximately nine pounds of body fat each. 


Another study showed how a sample of 60 overweight PCOS individuals benefited from a diet with 30% protein—and were able to lose weight, improve their insulin sensitivity, and lower their testosterone. 

General Benefits of Protein Powder in PCOS Management

Protein powder has several benefits specific to PCOS, including:

Enhances Satiety and Reducing Cravings

Protein enhances satiety (feelings of fullness) and curbs cravings by stimulating the production of the hormones in charge of satiety, specifically cholecystokinin, peptide YY, and glucagon-like peptide 1.

Supports Muscle Mass and Metabolism

Food has a thermic effect that impacts how many calories you burn and how quickly you metabolize food. 


Protein has a high thermic effect of 15% to 30%, compared to carbohydrates (5% to 10%) and fats (0% to 3%). 


By eating more protein, you can increase how much you burn daily by at least 100 calories.

Improves Glycemic Control

All types of food have the ability to increase glucose levels in the blood. Protein, however, is digested slowly — so its impact on glucose levels is relatively lower than carbohydrates and sugar-loaded foods. 


Carbohydrates also break down directly into glucose, whereas proteins break down into amino acids before converting to glucose. 


By consuming more protein than carbohydrates when you have PCOS, you’re helping your insulin sensitivity by not causing spikes in blood sugar levels each time you eat.

Contributes to Hormonal Balance

Glucagon is yet another hormone that is stimulated by protein. 


It raises blood sugar levels and counteracts insulin. 


Consuming protein in the right amount can help the body balance levels of hormones (glucagon and insulin) in the blood.

Types of Protein Powders

Not all protein powders are created equal. If you’re looking for a protein powder to try, here are your options:

1. Whey Protein

A small study published in the Current Developments in Nutrition publication revealed that whey protein could increase insulin sensitivity, reduce blood sugar, and reduce insulin resistance at the 40-day mark in women with PCOS. 


However, nutrition experts and holistic practitioners advise against using whey for PCOS, as the dairy content may negatively affect people with food sensitivities to dairy.


High amounts of insulin-like growth factor 1, or IGF-1, can particularly trigger the ovaries to overproduce androgens, which can then exacerbate PCOS symptoms like acne, hair loss, and more.

2. Plant-Based Proteins

Protein powders made of pea, hemp, soy, or a combination of these are better choices than whey. 


Pea protein isolates are particularly good for PCOS as their bioavailability and amino acid profile are at par with animal-derived protein.


Since pea protein is low in amino acid methionine, it may be a good idea to blend it with hemp protein powder or brown rice protein powder, which are both high in amino acids. 


Use a 50/50 ratio when blending.


Soy protein has also been found to reduce triglyceride levels, LDL cholesterol, and androgen levels in women with PCOS.

3. Collagen Protein

Collagen, on the other hand, is higher in certain amino acids than most protein powders. 


These acids offer unique health benefits, including better joint and gut health, as well as healthy hair, skin, and nails.


The Nourished Inner Beauty Collagen Peptides, for example, contains a blend of collagen peptides, bamboo, vitamin C, and horsetail extract for radiant, more elastic, and hydrated skin.


It also supports healthy hair growth, which can be very helpful for dealing with PCOS-related hair loss. 


Healthy nails are another bonus, in addition to better gut health from easy-to-digest collagen peptides.

4. Casein Protein

Lastly, casein protein is another option; it is a complete protein with all essential amino acids.


It digests slowly and can, therefore, keep you fuller for longer. 


However, like whey protein, casein comes from dairy and may not be a good fit if you have food sensitivities to dairy products. 


If you’re using casein to build muscle, experts recommend taking it before sleep to boost muscle mass and strength.

Choosing the Right Protein Powder

How do you pick the best protein powder for PCOS?

Individualized Dietary Preferences and Restrictions

It’s always good to go for whole-food protein sources, but it may not always be doable. 


This is where a good protein powder can come in handy to help you meet your protein goals. 


As a general rule, you should look for one made from egg white, pea, collagen, hemp, beef, or a combination of these.


As mentioned earlier, you can go for dairy-based protein, but it’s important to consider whether you have any dietary restrictions (such as intolerances or allergies) that may outweigh the benefits of protein in your diet. 


For example, if you’re allergic to soy, you can opt for collagen instead or maybe a blend of pea and rice protein.

Quality and Purity of Protein Supplements

Researching the manufacturer of your protein powder is also a good idea, as some brands have been found to have heavy metals in them. 


Check the FDA website to see whether the manufacturer of the protein powder you’re planning to get has had product recalls or if they have records of contamination with heavy metals or other substances.

Reading Labels and Ingredient Lists

Go for brands that use natural sweeteners like monkfruit and stevia as well, instead of those that use sucralose or aspartame. 


Check the nutrition facts and pick one that contains less than 4 grams of carbohydrates to stay well below your carbohydrate tolerance.

Consultation with a Healthcare Provider or Dietitian

When in doubt, consult your nutritionist or healthcare provider so they can make a recommendation regarding the right protein powder for you. 


Your healthcare provider may prescribe tests, like allergy or intolerance tests, to make sure you aren’t allergic to common ingredients used for protein powder, like milk and soy.

Importance of Monitoring for Allergens and Additives

Your protein powder should be free of artificial colorings and additives that may worsen your PCOS symptoms. 


You’ll specifically want to check that your protein powder does not have the following ingredients:

  • Added Sugars: Sucralose, Saccharin, Aspartame

  • Preservatives: Sodium Benzoate, BHA, and BHT

  • Vegetable Oils: Any vegetable and seed oils added for texture‍

Free 3 min Quiz 

PCOS? Which Type Do You Have?

Dosage and Timing Recommendations

If you’re not sure how much protein to take and when, here’s a brief guide:

Daily Protein Intake Goals for PCOS Management

An average protein intake of 30% of your total calories per day is ideal for PCOS management. 


This may look like around 30g to 40g of protein per meal and can come from sources like:

  • Chickpeas

  • Tofu

  • Soy

  • Black beans

  • Protein Powder

  • Egg

  • Fish

  • Poultry

  • Tempeh

  • Edamame

  • Soy Milk

Adjusting Protein Intake Based on Activity Level and Age

The ideal protein intake guide according to activity level is as follows:

  • Sedentary: 1.2 to 1.8 g/kg of body weight

  • Active: 1.4–2.0 g/kg of body weight

  • Building Muscle: 1.6–2.4 g/kg of body weight

  • Fat Loss: 1.6–2.4 g/kg (up to 3.1 g/kg) of body weight

  • Overweight: 1.2–1.5 g/kg of body weight

  • Pregnant: 1.7–1.8 g/kg of body weight

  • Lactating: 1.5 g/kg of body weight

Timing of Protein Consumption for Optimal Results

One of the best ways to incorporate protein into your diet is by squeezing it in at breakfast. 

You can either consume eggs, salmon, bacon, or even make a protein shake.

Implementing a PCOS Repair Breakfast entails consuming low-starch vegetables that don’t spike blood sugar levels, like cauliflower or zucchini. 

You can have these cooked or frozen and blended in smoothies. 

You can also use your protein powder and almond or coconut milk for a quick breakfast smoothie.

Kale or spinach with eggs is another great breakfast idea for PCOS repair. 

You can also mix collagen into your spearmint tea to reach your protein goal. 

The idea is to start your day with 30 to 40 grams of protein to keep blood sugar levels stable and your appetite satiated until lunch.

Combining Protein with Other Nutrients (e.g., Fiber, Healthy Fats)

Combining clean protein with fiber and healthy fats is a great way to nourish your body. 


Clean protein includes lentils, almonds, quinoa, tempeh, spirulina, hemp, and chia. 


Then, you can add healthy fats like peanut butter, nuts, flaxseeds, olives, and avocados to your meals — as a drizzle, smoothie add-on, or in cooking.

Incorporating Protein Powder into Your PCOS Diet

There are many ways to incorporate protein into your PCOS diet. 


As mentioned earlier, using it as a meal replacement for breakfast or as a drink on the side is great for reaching your protein goal. 


You can also add protein to smoothies and shakes for a quick pre- or post-workout snack to keep hangry attacks at bay.


If you bake, you can also add protein to your cookie and baked goods recipes or cook with protein and make protein pancakes or pasta. 


Energy balls with protein powder, peanut butter, chocolate, and granola are great on-the-go options.


In any case, keeping a protein intake tracker is handy for logging results and observations. 


Make a practice of planning meals to avoid monotony and last-minute ingredient shopping. 


With these tips in mind, you’ll find that incorporating protein into your PCOS diet becomes second nature to you as you reap such benefits.

About The Author - Tamika Woods

Tamika Woods | PCOS Author | Nourished Natural Health
Tamika Woods, Clinical Nutritionist (B.HS; B.Ed), Bestselling Author

For a decade, Tamika battled chronic acne, irregular cycles, mood swings, hair loss, painful periods, severe digestive issues and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). You name it - she's been there!

Tam was finally able to clear her skin, regulate her cycle, be free of period pain and fall pregnant naturally with her daughter in 2020. It took Tam 10 years and tens of thousands of dollars in tertiary education to get the answers she needed to get better.

She didn’t want other women to suffer as long as she did which is why she has dedicated her life to helping women in the same position as she was.

Tam helps women interpret what their bodies are trying to communicate through frustrating symptoms, and then develop a step-by-step roadmap to find balance again. She's here to help you get on track!

Tamika Woods is the author of the Amazon best seller PCOS Repair Protocol. She holds a Bachelor of Health Science degree (Nutritional Medicine) as well as a Bachelor of Education, graduating with Honours in both.

She is a certified Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) Educator and a certified member of the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA).

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Get evidence-based nutritionist & naturopath hormone support direct to your inbox. Get my 50+ page PCOS repair guide instantly. No spam, ever!

About The Author - Tamika Woods

Tamika Woods | PCOS Author | Nourished Natural Health
Tamika Woods, Clinical Nutritionist (B.HS; B.Ed), Bestselling Author

For a decade, Tamika battled chronic acne, irregular cycles, mood swings, hair loss, painful periods, severe digestive issues and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). You name it - she's been there!

Tam was finally able to clear her skin, regulate her cycle, be free of period pain and fall pregnant naturally with her daughter in 2020. It took Tam 10 years and tens of thousands of dollars in tertiary education to get the answers she needed to get better.

She didn’t want other women to suffer as long as she did which is why she has dedicated her life to helping women in the same position as she was.

Tam helps women interpret what their bodies are trying to communicate through frustrating symptoms, and then develop a step-by-step roadmap to find balance again. She's here to help you get on track!

Tamika Woods is the author of the Amazon best seller PCOS Repair Protocol. She holds a Bachelor of Health Science degree (Nutritional Medicine) as well as a Bachelor of Education, graduating with Honours in both.

She is a certified Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) Educator and a certified member of the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA).

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Nourished Period + PMS Repair
$29.00
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Nourished Hormone Detox + Digestion - Nourished Natural Health
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