Keto Diet Plan for PCOS

Author Image

Written by Bridget Nalwoga, Certified Nutritionist and medically reviewed by Abby Courtenay

Imge of Keto Diet Plan for PCOS



PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a condition that affects hormone levels in women. The disease affects the reproductive system by causing cysts (lumps) on the ovaries.

Women with PCOS tend to show signs like reduced fertility, facial hair, and baldness. This is because the condition causes women to produce abnormally high levels of male hormones like testosterone.

The cause is not fully understood, but genetics and lifestyle play a big role. Common treatments include birth control, insulin therapy, and lifestyle changes.

Among the lifestyle changes that can improve PCOS symptoms is diet. In particular, the ketogenic diet can have a positive impact on the condition. Keep reading to find out how.


What is the keto diet plan for PCOS?

This is a low-carb high-fat diet that is designed to improve signs and symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. The diet plan does not differ significantly from the standard ketogenic diet. It maintains the same distribution of macros:

  • Fat: 70%
  • Carbs: 5-10%
  • Protein: 10-20%

The number of calories to consume on the diet depends on your current weight. Since being overweight or obese can increase your risk for PCOS, it may be helpful to lose some weight to improve your symptoms.

In this case, you will have to maintain a calorie deficit so your body can burn some of your body fat for energy. You can use our free keto macros calculator to set your calorie deficit.

Benefits of a keto diet plan for PCOS

There are four main ways in which a ketogenic diet can help improve your PCOS:

  • Weight loss. Several studies have shown the ketogenic diet to be an effective weight loss diet both in the short and long term. Excessive weight is a risk factor for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome because too much body fat can cause damage to body organs, including the ovaries. By losing some of the body weight, you can control some of the negative effects of the condition.
  • Insulin control. Women that suffer from PCOS tend to have high insulin levels. This is because of low insulin sensitivity, which triggers excessive insulin production. Since insulin production is mostly triggered by high-carb foods, a diet that is lacking in such foods can help keep the levels down.
  • Insulin sensitivity. Through a mechanism that is not yet fully understood, PCOS causes low insulin sensitivity. Keto can help improve this symptom by lowering body fat levels and improving the general health of the pancreas.
  • Hormonal control. Keto has been shown to improve the production of female reproductive hormones. This can be useful in women whose PCOS is affecting their hormone production.


Downsides to the keto diet for PCOS

The diet has many wonderful benefits, but it also comes with a number of potential side effects that should not be ignored. Some of the ones to watch out for include:

  • Keto flu. At the start of the diet, you may experience flu-like symptoms like headaches, insomnia, and nausea.
  • Loss of muscle mass. This is usually in people who do not eat enough protein on the diet. This is especially relevant to women with hormonal imbalances because increasing muscle mass through strength training helps improve estrogen production. So, make sure to eat enough protein and consider incorporating strength training into your exercise routine.
  • Constipation. Many of us get most of our fiber from grains, legumes, and fruits. All of these food groups are eliminated or limited on the ketogenic diet. For this reason, some people may suffer from constipation if they do not eat enough low-carb sources of fiber like leafy greens and nuts.


How to start the keto diet plan for PCOS

Despite its challenges, you can still have great success on keto if you have PCOS. To help you on your journey, here are a few tips:

  • Stay physically active. Exercise is of great importance to women living with PCOS for two reasons: weight loss and insulin sensitivity. Try to get at least 90 minutes of moderate to high-intensity exercise every week. If you cannot schedule time for exercise, try lifestyle changes like walking more or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Keep a food diary. Keeping a record of the food you eat can be beneficial to you when deciding how to proceed with your health in the future. To get the most out of the journal, you can also record how eating certain foods makes you feel.
  • Eat mostly whole foods. A truly healthy ketogenic diet should mostly consist of whole foods. Processed foods that pass as low-carb should only make up a small portion of your diet.
  • Transition slowly. When switching to a low-carb diet, make small gradual changes instead of big drastic ones. For example, do not cut out all carbs at once but instead, start with certain carb groups like added sugars.
  • Consider a few supplements. It may be difficult to meet all your nutritional needs on the ketogenic diet, especially in the beginning. You can try supplements like vitamins, electrolytes, probiotics to improve your health.
  • Speak to a qualified health professional. Last but most definitely not least, it is always advisable to consult a qualified doctor or registered dietitian before starting your transition.



Foods to eat and avoid on the keto diet plan for PCOS

On keto, there is little to no room for high-carb and processed foods. Foods to be eliminated or limited include:

  • Candy
  • Soda
  • Honey
  • Table sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Bread
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Fruit juice
  • High-sugar fruits like pineapple and mango
  • Sweet potato

Even though foods like beans, oatmeal, and popcorn are high in carbs, they can still be eaten in moderation on keto because they offer a wide range of health benefits.

In place of these foods, you will mostly eat high-fat low-carb foods including:

  • Meat: beef, chicken, turkey, pork
  • Fish: salmon, shrimp, tuna
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products: plain Greek yogurt, butter, cheese
  • Leafy greens: spinach, kale, beet greens, lettuce
  • Cruciferous veggies like cabbage, broccoli, and many more
  • Low-sugar fruits: cantaloupe, watermelon, lemon, avocado, berries


Grocery list for a keto diet for PCOS

For some guidance, here is a sample shopping list for a week on keto.

  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Almond flour
  • Chicken thighs
  • Minced beef
  • Shrimp
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Frozen berries
  • Lemons
  • Avocado
  • Eggs


1-day sample meal plan

Designing keto-friendly meals may seem like a challenge at first, but they will eventually become easy and maybe even obvious.

At each meal, you want to have a source of fat, some form of vegetable or fruit, and a rich source of protein. Once you keep this in mind, you should be able to build healthy ketogenic meals in no time.

For inspiration, here is a sample day's keto menu for PCOS.

  • Breakfast: Scrambled egg, spinach, and avocado
  • Snack: Celery sticks and almond butter
  • Lunch: Beefsteak and lettuce salad
  • Dinner: Cauliflower rice and steamed salmon
  • Dessert: Berries and cream

Calories: 2,410 | Macros: 24.4 g net carbs, 136.7 g protein, and 190.9 g fat.

BREAKFAST Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
Scrambled egg, spinach, and avocado Eggs 3 units 216 0 18.7 15
  Spinach 1 cup 41 2.5 5.4 0.5
  Olive oil 2 tablespoons 238 0 0 27
  Avocado 1/2 medium 114 1.3 1.4 10.5
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
609 3.8 g 25.5 g 53 g            
SNACK Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
Celery sticks and almond butter Celery sticks 5 4-inch sticks 3 0 0.1 0
  Almond butter 2 tablespoons 196 2.7 6.8 17.8
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
199 2.7 g 6.9 g 17.8 g            
LUNCH Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
Beefsteak and salad Beef 1/2 steak (360g) 382 0 49.2 20.5
  Lettuce 2 cups 16 0.6 1.2 0.2
  Grape tomatoes 100g 31 3.4 0.8 0.6
  Cucumber 1/2 cup sliced 8 1.5 0.3 0
  Feta cheese 1 oz 75 1.1 4 6.1
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
512 6.6 g 55.5 g 27.4 g            
DINNER Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
Cauliflower rice and steamed salmon Salmon 1/2 fillet (155g) 285 0 42.5 11.6
  Olive oil 2 tablespoons 238 0 0 27
  Cauliflower rice 76g 15 1 1 0
  Avocado 1/2 medium 114 1.3 1.4 10.5
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
213 1.5 g 13.7 g 15.7 g            
DESSERT Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
Berries and cream Mixed berries 1/2 cup 30 5.6 0.5 0.3
  Cream 1 cup 408 3.4 3.4 43.3
  Stevia To taste 0 0 0 0
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
438 9 g 3.9 g 43.6 g            
DAILY TOTALS   2,410 cal 24.4 g net carbs 136.7 g protein 190.0 g fat




FAQs on the keto diet plan for PCOS

Yes, keto is very PCOS-friendly. In fact, keto can provide many health benefits to women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Such benefits include weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, and better hormonal control.

Yes, keto is a very reliable weight loss tool for women, PCOS or not.

Dairy is a controversial topic in nutrition. Some studies show that dairy can cause inflammation and increased hormonal imbalances, while others show that it can improve health. If you want to keep eating dairy, you can do so in moderate amounts as long as it doesn’t make your symptoms worse.

No, some women may experience hormonal imbalances on keto, but the diet doesn’t cause Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. The cause for PCOS is usually unknown and mostly related to genetics.

No. There is currently no known cure for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. A healthy lifestyle  may help to relieve certain PCOS symptoms, but will not cure the condition completely.

Yes, you can but only after consulting with your doctor. Combining keto and intermittent fasting can change your metabolism significantly and sometimes negatively. You should therefore seek the guidance of a qualified health professional before trying the combination of the two.


Different types of keto plans