What's Your Protein-To-Carb Ratio?
Do you have PCOS and been struggling to lose weight despite your dieting and exercise efforts? It could be your protein-to-carbohydrate ratio according to a study published in the American Society for Nutrition. During this 6-month trial, women with PCOS followed either a high protein diet consisting of 40% or more energy from protein and 30% fat versus a standard protein diet of less than 15% protein and 30% fat. Both groups received monthly dietary counseling and could eat as much food as they wanted with the guideline to reduce or avoid simple sugars. In addition, the high protein group was encouraged to eat whole grain bread products.
The results: The high protein diet had greater weight loss (17 vs. 7 pounds), body fat loss (14 vs. 4.5 pounds), waist circumference, and improved glucose. No difference in lipids or sex hormones was found. According to the researchers, there is no need for calorie restricted diets for women with PCOS because protein is so satisfying; it causes a decrease in caloric intake.
Below are the benefits protein provides women with PCOS:
- Fills you up so you aren't as hungry between meals
- Preserves muscle and lean body mass which can keep metabolism up
- Aids in stabilizing blood sugar levels
- Helps you build muscle
Participants in the study had 40% or more calories coming from protein. That's a lot of protein! Here's what that equates to:
1,400 calories = 140 grams protein
1,600 calories = 160 grams protein
1,800 calories = 180 grams protein
2,000 calories = 200 grams protein
If you're interested in improving your protein-to-carb ratio, here's what you need to know:
Choose lean sources of protein, low in saturated fat and cholesterol. This includes:
- Skinless poultry
- Fish and seafood
Other foods that can be used to boost protein include:
- Nuts or nut-butter
- Cottage cheese
- Meat-alternative foods
Start the day with a high protein breakfast such as a protein shake (see recipe below) or eggs.
Spread your protein evenly throughout the day.
Have protein with every meal or snack to stabilize blood sugar levels.
If you're vegetarian or just don't eat a lot of protein-containing foods, try protein powder (look for one without sugar) to boost your protein-to-carb ratio. An average scoop of protein power contains 30 grams of protein. Protein powder is great in a smoothie for a quick breakfast on-the go or mid-day snack. See below for a high protein Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie recipe.
Bottom line: The optimal protein-to-carbohydrate ratio for women with PCOS remains unclear. This is only one study which shows favorable results in increasing protein when compared with carbohydrate amount. Protein does play a role in decreasing hunger and adds to satiety and thus, a high protein-to-carbohydrate ratio may benefit women with PCOS.
Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
half-cup non-fat milk
1 medium banana, peeled
1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
1 scoop double rich chocolate whey protein powder such as Optimum Nutrition (sold at most drugstore chains)
3 ice cubes
Place ingredients in blender. Blend well. Add straw and enjoy! Whipped cream optional.
378 calories, 38 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams fat, 40 grams protein
Sørensen LB, Søe M, Halkier KH, Stigsby B, Astrup A. Effects of increased dietary protein-to-carbohydrate ratios in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;95(1):39-48.