Should You Include Whey Protein In Your Diet If You Have PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a condition some people with ovaries experience after puberty (per Office on Women's Health). PCOS has been deemed incurable, but there are opportunities to find relief. Simple lifestyle changes like altering one's diet and getting more exercise can help women manage symptoms. There's an additional way to assuage PCOS symptoms without meds — and surprisingly, it's a supplement anyone can buy.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition when a woman's body produces androgens (male sex hormones) at higher rate than usual. Ladies naturally produce a small amount of male hormones. However, an overload of them can lead to an imbalance. Without sufficient estrogen, the ovaries don't release mature eggs before menstruation. Rather than ovulating, the ovaries begin developing cysts instead (via Better Health Channel). 

Those with PCOS usually experience unexplained weight gain, thinning hair, or excess body hair with abnormal periods. Other complications like type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and hypertension are connected to this condition as well. Due to the disruption of hormones, infertility is another potential side effect (per Healthline). Treatment options might include androgen-blocking meds, hormonal birth control, or a diet full of PCOS-friendly foods. From a nutritional approach, a 2007 study concluded one simple ingredient may be effective in altering PCOS symptoms: whey protein.

Whey protein soothes PCOS symptoms

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that whey protein can be used to improve hormone levels in women with PCOS. Polycystic ovary syndrome gives rise to insulin resistance by elevating cortisol (via Livestrong). Extra insulin in the blood triggers the body to make more androgens, which in turn can increase PCOS symptoms. The study discovered that women taking whey protein saw an improvement in their hormonal balance.

Other factors may contribute to the risk and symptoms of PCOS, such as being overweight. As a result, Healthline experts say simple diet changes and increased physical activity are great ways to improve overall health. Whey powders supplement a quick dose of protein and they also stave off hunger. This is helpful when starting a new workout routine or trying to eat less. Experts at Livestrong noted that prioritizing healthy eating habits is beneficial. North Atlanta Women's Care advises eating less processed meats (like hotdogs and sausage) and refined carbs like white rice and flour. Adopting whole foods into your diet and including a whey protein supplement may help significantly.

If you think whey protein may have a positive effect on your PCOS symptoms, speak with a nutritionist or health professional. They can help you explore your options and determine the best way to treat your symptoms.