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Higher Protein Diet Helpful in PCOS

Jan 27, 2012

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome may do better on a diet with a high ratio of protein to carbohydrates….

Dr. Lone B. Sorensen stated that, “Replacing carbohydrates with protein improves weight loss and improves glucose metabolism and seems to offer an improved dietary treatment of PCOS patients.”


In a December 7 online paper in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dr. Sorensen of the University of Copenhagen and colleagues note that most dietary interventions for PCOS have focused on energy restriction. Indeed, many women with the condition are obese.

Because the Danish team wanted to know whether replacing carbohydrates with protein mighty be helpful, they recruited 57 women and assigned them (through rank minimization) to eat either a standard or high-protein diet. Neither group had any caloric restriction.

The high-protein diet provided more than 40% of energy from protein, 30% from fat and the remainder from carbohydrates. The standard diet derived less than 15% of energy from protein, 30% of energy from fat, and more than 55% from carbohydrates. More than half the women dropped out over the course of the six-month study. Seven women left because of pregnancy; another 23 did so for other reasons, leaving 27 to be evaluated.

The high-protein diet produced a significantly higher weight loss than the standard diet (7.7 vs 3.3 kg). Women on the high-protein diet also lost more body fat (6.4 vs 2.1 kg), and had a significantly greater reduction in waist circumference.

The high-protein diet also led to greater decreases in glucose, which persisted after adjustment for weight changes. This positive effect was thus independent of weight loss.

Summing up, Dr. Sorensen said, “This study shows that it is not necessary for PCOS patients to follow energy-restricted diets because protein satiates so well that a high protein diet will induce a spontaneous reduction in energy intake.”

Am J Clin Nutr Jan. 2011.