What’s Your Protein-To-Carb Ratio?

Are you struggling to lose weight despite your healthy eating 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, the women lost weight despite the lack of calorie restriction because protein foods are very satisfying and the women were likely less hungry and therefore, ate less food overall.

Benefits of Protein

  • 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, choose lean sources of protein, low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Examples of Protein Foods

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 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.Try our Chocolate 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.

Source:Source: 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.

Did you alter your protein or carb intake? What did you notice? Leave us a comment below!


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments (5)
  • Dianne Morris

    February 1, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    Thirty years ago doctors told me I had polycystic ovaries. It had not been discussed as a syndrome and for me that meant taking fertility drugs to get pregnant and birth control drugs to deal with irregular periods. Thirty years later and 80 lbs less, I have forgotten about this diagnoses. I thought it was no longer an issue at this stage of my life. Now that I have been exposed to PCOS literature, I find myself, once again concerned. It’s now my understanding that my risk of diabetes which is now at 95% due to both parents and multiple siblings diagnosed,is even greater. I find this most recent study of high protein-to-carbohydrate ratio very interesting. I have been strength training for quite a while and have been eating this way. This is just one more reason to continue a higher protein diet and to get out and exercise.

  • Owen

    February 26, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    I personally don’t think it’s so important to constantly worry about these tiny little details. Eating natural foods in as whole state as possible will go a long way. It’s the processing of foods that causes imbalances in our bodies.

  • Brenda Albritton

    August 16, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    I recently had pcos since I was a teen, but now I’m soon to be 22 and I let it get a little outa hand when I was going through some things, but now I’m feeling a lot better and I more understand that I need to stay active and eat right which I walk every afternoon when I can which I’m in school now and soon to be working. But honestly having this scares me at the fact that it’s a chance of not being able to have a kid: ( but God has been helping me through this and my mom a little, my aunt which is my dad’s sister her daughter has something not as the same. But it’s just still really upsets me at the fact that I may not be able to have a baby: ‘(

  • Brenda Albritton

    August 16, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    Mostly the more protein I been eating, I eat stuff like eggs, bacon, meats, fruits, veggies, I also take a vitamin supplement to help more where I wasn’t eating as much then as I forgot to say, and just slowly been taking it easy and I’m getting back to the way I’m normally use to feel, but can you tell me that maybe I could possibly be able to have a kid later on?

  • Health Concerns for Hispanic Women with PCOS – Healthie Blog

    April 3, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    […] ones. But I also believe our diets are not unhealthy, we just need to learn to tweak portions and combine foods better. I could never stop eating rice, and would never ask a patient to do so either. Our […]

Get Our Free Guide To Eating Well With PCOS

+ Recipes and PCOS Nutrition Tips
PCOS Nutrition Center

Sign Up!

Get Our Free Guide To Eating Well With PCOS

+ Recipes and PCOS Nutrition Tips
PCOS Nutrition Center
ovasitol pcos