Let’s delve into the realm of protein powders and review the best protein powder for PCOS options out there, so you can manage PCOS like a pro.
In order to provide a comprehensive list of recommended protein powder brands, I surveyed over 500 Registered Dietitians that treat individuals with PCOS to find out what their favorite protein powders for PCOS are.
Selecting a protein powder for PCOS can be overwhelming with all the information out there.
This blog post will guide you through the benefits, considerations, and recommendations, both for types of protein powder and different brands, empowering you to make informed decisions.
Let’s dive in!
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Table of contents
- Understanding PCOS and Protein Needs
- Protein for PCOS, Hormones and Enzymes
- How much protein do you need for PCOS?
- Choosing the Right Protein Powder for PCOS:
- Different Types of Protein Powders for PCOS:
- How to Add Protein Powders into Your PCOS Diet
- How much protein powder to use?
- Dietitian Recommended Brands
- Other Ways to Add Protein without Protein Powders
- Final thoughts…
Understanding PCOS and Protein Needs
The significance of protein in managing PCOS cannot be overstated. Protein intake in PCOS plays a vital role including:
- Hormone balance by helping to control blood sugar levels and insulin response
- Weight management
- Appetite control
- Reduces carb cravings
- Keeps PCOS symptoms at bay
Protein is one of the three main nutrients your body needs to work properly, alongside carbohydrates and fats.
It’s made up of smaller pieces called amino acids. There are 20 types of amino acids, and our body can make 11 of them. The remaining 9 are called “essential amino acids,” and we need to get them from the food we eat .
Getting adequate protein at meals and snacks is critical for blood sugar management. I recommend my clients try to get 20-30g protein per meal and 10-15g at a snack.
Since it can be tricky to get enough protein in a certain meal (check out my free PCOS High Protein Breakfast Recipe ebook here), using a protein powder can definitely help you meet those goals.
Protein for PCOS, Hormones and Enzymes
Protein plays a big role in many body functions. It helps create important chemicals like hormones and enzymes.
Hormones act like messengers, carrying signals around the body to help it function properly. For instance, insulin is a hormone that helps control blood sugar levels.
Enzymes, on the other hand, speed up chemical reactions in the body, aiding in digestion and metabolism. For example, enzymes in your stomach help break down food into smaller pieces that your body can use.
How much protein do you need for PCOS?
As a Registered Dietitian that specializes in PCOS, I recommend that individuals with PCOS aim for 20-30 grams protein at each meal. This helps promote fullness at meals and stable blood sugars.
Incorporating protein powders into some meals can be an easy way to help you meet your protein needs specific meals or as a snack.
Breakfast can be a difficult meal to get 20-30 grams of protein. That is when protein powders can easily help you reach your protein goal. If you want to learn how to make a PCOS-friendly smoothie check out this fertility smoothie recipe.
You should speak with your Registered Dietitian or health care professional to understand your specific protein needs.
Choosing the Right Protein Powder for PCOS:
Selecting the ideal protein powder involves considering several key factors. Look for options that are:
- low in sugar
- devoid of artificial additives
- possess a favorable amino acid profile.
Additionally, take into account your personal preferences and dietary restrictions, like it you need to avoid lactose, dairy or soy. Rest assured, there’s a protein powder out there that aligns perfectly with your needs!
Different Types of Protein Powders for PCOS:
Whey Protein Powder
Whey protein is a popular choice among PCOS warriors. Derived from milk, it delivers a robust protein profile and boasts all 9 essential amino acids which is crucial for building muscle and hormone balance.
Opt for a high-quality, low-sugar whey protein powder ensures maximum benefits.
Collagen Protein Powder
Collagen peptides are an easy way to add a PCOS friendly protein powder into your diet. I personally add it to my morning coffee.
It’s important to remember that collagen peptides are not a complete protein, so you want to make sure you are consuming other sources of protein throughout the day.
Egg White Protein Powder
Egg whites for the win! This was honestly a new one for me but I’m interested in trying it.
Egg white protein powder is made by separating the yolk from the whites. Then the egg whites are dehydrated and pasteurized so they are safe to consume.
According to the NIH, “Egg protein has been shown to decrease malnutrition, improve muscle health, increase satiety, and therefore contribute to weight loss. It has other additional benefits including protection against infection, decreased blood pressure, as well as an anti-cancer effect.” (1)
Plant-based Protein Powder
For those following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, plant-based protein powders, such as pea, hemp, pumpkin seed or chia seed protein powders, serve as excellent options.
Most of these protein powders will also provide fiber which is an added benefit! Fiber is critical for blood sugar management and promoting a healthy gut.
Pea Protein Powder
Pea protein is a “complete protein” containing all 9 essential amino acids, but it is low in one amino acid methionine. That means you just want to consume different types of protein the rest of the day to make sure you get enough.
Hemp Seed Protein Powder
Hemp seed protein powder is another great choice as it is a “complete protein”, high in fiber and provides antiinflammatory omega 3 fats.
Chia Seed Protein Powder
Chia seeds, in general, are fantastic for PCOS. They are a complete protein, rich in omega 3 fatty acids and provide a LOT of fiber.
Chia seeds are usually mixed into other plant based seed protein powders.
You can also add chia seeds themselves into your smoothie and don’t have to purchase a separate chia seed protein powder.
Soy Protein Powders
While soy protein powder is a complete protein, I don’t recommend it to my clients with PCOS. When it comes to soy, whole soy or fermented soy, like tofu, miso, edamame, tempeh, is recommended. (2)
The type of soy protein found in soy protein powders is the more processed soy protein isolate, which is not recommended for PCOS.
If you want the benefits of whole soy in your smoothie, just add in silken tofu to increase the protein content.
How to Add Protein Powders into Your PCOS Diet
Now that we’ve discussed different protein powders for PCOS, let’s explore practical ways to integrate them into your daily routine.
- Add a scoop to your favorite smoothie
- Blend it into yogurt
- Stir collagen into coffee
- Mix with oats and nut butter to make a protein-rich energy bites
- Stir into overnight oats or chia pudding
- Add to hot cereal like oatmeal
- Make protein pancakes or waffles
- Add a scoop or two to cookies, homemade granola bars and baked goods
- The possibilities are limitless!
Remember to adhere to serving guidelines and listen to your body’s cues.
How much protein powder to use?
I recommend looking at the nutrition label on your protein powder to determine how much protein is in a serving size, or how many scoops you need.
I recommend between 20-30g protein per meal and at least 10g protein for a snack for my clients.
There is no need to go crazy with protein at a meal and add a 30g protein drink to a meal already containing 20-30g protein from food sources.
I recommend estimating the protein in your meal or snack and then add enough protein powder to meet your goals.
For example, I add 1 scoop (½ serving) of collagen peptides to my coffee to provide 10g protein as my breakfast is already providing some protein.
Protein breakfast in my regular breakfast:
- 1 cup cooked oatmeal- 6g protein
- 2 Tbsp peanut butter- 8g protein
- 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed- 3.8g protein
- 1 cup blueberries- 1g protein
So by adding 1 scoop of collagen peptides to my morning coffee, I can easily get 28.8g protein at my breakfast!
Dietitian Recommended Brands
I surveyed a group of over 500 Registered Dietitians that treat individuals with PCOS, to find out which brands of protein powders they recommend.
*Note that this is not an exhaustive list, but just what these dietitians have been using or their clients have been using and are enjoying.
- Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Chocolate or Unflavored – I love added Vital Proteins Unflavored into my morning coffee
Other Ways to Add Protein without Protein Powders
Don’t feel like you HAVE to use a protein powder to increase your protein intake at meals. Here are a few ways to increase protein without using a protein powder:
- Add seeds like chia, hemp, flaxseed to smoothies
- Sprinkle peanut butter toast with hemp or flaxseed
- Make chia seed jam with different fruits
- Add nut butter to smoothies, toast, oatmeal
- Add silken tofu to smoothies, dips, puddings
- Fill hard boiled eggs with hummus
- Choose a filtered, higher protein milk like Fair Life
- Use cottage cheese in chia pudding, pancakes, ect
- Add ricotta or cottage cheese to pasta dishes
- Choose a high protein, high fiber lentil pasta like Banza (this one is actually really good!)
- Add beans to dips and salads
- Keep pre-cooked proteins like grilled chicken, nitrate-free turkey or hard boiled eggs available, to easily add to meals
Are protein powders good for PCOS?
Yes, protein powder can be good for PCOS. The important thing to determine is the type of protein powder that works best for you and how to corporate it into your diet.
Protein powders shouldn’t be replacing food but can be used to enhance the protein content of foods for better blood sugar control and fullness.
Which protein shake is best for PCOS?
The best protein shake for PCOS is one that is low in added sugars, provides enough protein for the meal/snack you’re replacing and one you actually like to drink!
My current favorite is Fair Life Chocolate Core Protein-High Protein Milk Shake.
Can I drink whey protein if I have PCOS?
Yes, you can drink whey protein if you have PCOS. There is no scientific evidence to support eliminating dairy when you have PCOS.
If you are lactose intolerant, you may want to try a whey protein powder made with whey protein isolate as it contains less lactose.
Is protein good for PCOS?
Yes, protein is good for PCOS. Consuming meals and snacks with a balance of carbohydrate, protein and healthy fats will help improve blood sugar balance, insulin resistance, promote fullness and help with weight management.
Is whey protein good for PCOS?
Yes, whey protein is good for PCOS. Preliminary research shows that whey protein isolate supplementation improves insulin sensitivity in individuals with PCOS. (3) It has also been shown to be effective in managing glycemic control in individual with type 2 diabetes. (4)
Best protein powders for PCOS?
The best protein powder for PCOS is one that provides adequate protein (20-30g protein if using as meal replacement), is low in added sugars and tastes good to you.
- Whey protein powder
- Collagen peptides
- Egg white protein powders
- Pea protein powders
- Hemp seed protein powders
- Other seed protein powders like chia or pumpkin seed
Protein powders do have a place in the PCOS diet, but we shouldn’t be reliant on them for multiple meals and snacks per day. Protein powders are supplements, so remember to use them to SUPPLEMENT your diet.
Getting adequate protein at meals and snacks is going to have a significant improvement on your PCOS symptoms including blood sugar management, cravings, satisfaction after meals and can help with weight management.
As always, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider or Registered Dietitian to find the protein powder that aligns best with your unique needs and goals. Empower yourself on your PCOS journey!
Need help navigating the right PCOS eating plan for you? Schedule a free consultation!