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Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition that affects the hormone balance in women, favoring the production of male hormones like testosterone over female hormones like estrogen and progesterone. This imbalance can lead to symptoms such as menstrual problems and infertility. Many women with this condition also develop insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
The new study included data collected from 27 women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Participants were assigned to either a high-protein diet or a standard-protein diet for six months. Both groups received regular nutritional counseling and were guided to reduce their intake of sweets and soft drinks.
The aim of the high-protein diet was to get 40% or more of each day’s calories from protein and less than 30% of calories from carbohydrate. To achieve this, women in the high-protein-diet group were instructed to replace sugary and starchy foods with either protein-rich foods like meat, eggs, fish, and dairy foods, or with vegetables, fruits, and nuts. The aim of the standard-protein diet was to get less than 15% of calories from protein and more than 55% of calories from carbohydrate. There were no calorie restrictions with either diet.
At the end of the study, the following differences between the groups were seen:
"We found that the replacement of carbohydrates with protein in a generally unrestricted diet can lead to increased weight loss and improved blood sugar control in women with polycystic ovary syndrome," said lead study author Lone B. Sorensen, a research scientist at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. "Our findings suggest that switching to a high-protein diet may help women with this syndrome to manage their condition and improve their overall health."
A high-protein diet offers more control to women with polycystic ovary syndrome by providing a way to improve their health through day-to-day food choices. The benefits of eating more protein and fewer carbohydrates—weight loss, blood sugar control, and reduction in abdominal fat—are all associated with better cardiovascular health.
Here are some changes you can make to reduce carbohydrates and increase protein:
(Am J Clin Nutr 2012;95:39–48)