This post was updated on March 21st, 2022
By Kym Campbell, BSc. | Updated March 21st, 2022
For women with PCOS, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, but maybe not in the way you’d assume.
Not only does breakfast present the first opportunity to heal the gut and keep you well-fueled for the day ahead, but by eating nutrient-dense meals rich in wholefood sources of protein and fat, you’re also much more likely to make better food choices throughout the day.
If you’re full and satisfied, then you’re much less likely to want candy or snacks later in the day making a healthy breakfast for PCOS, especially useful for improving dietary habits.
This is a constant theme I hear from women taking part in my free 30-Day PCOS Diet Challenge and it’s why I’m excited to share some of my breakfast ideas for PCOS here.
What Makes A Great PCOS Breakfast Recipe?
There are several general steps for adapting to a PCOS diet that are particularly relevant for making the best breakfast for PCOS:
- Swap processed foods for nutrient-dense whole foods. This helps avoid many of the proinflammatory ingredients used by food manufacturers.
- Exclude as much sugar as possible. Sugar spikes our blood glucose levels and causes systemic inflammation throughout our bodies. It’s possibly one of the single most unhelpful foods for women with PCOS.
- Be smart about fruit. Fresh whole fruit is one of the few exceptions to my “avoid all sugar advice,” but we need to be mindful to not eat too much.
- Eat low-carb, and slow-carb, from whole food sources. Eating a low-carb diet is indisputably a great idea for women with PCOS, and we can make this even better by sticking to whole foods with a low glycemic index.
- Eat fish, meat, and eggs. Women with PCOS tend to be nutrient deficient both in terms of essential amino acids and many micronutrients that are abundant in animal sources of protein.
- Include plenty of healthy fats. Women with PCOS should be getting 50 – 60% of their calories from fat. Despite all our previous conditioning that “fat is bad,” doing so can have a profound impact on your metabolic health and hormones.
- Replace vegetable oils with healthy fats. As you’ll see from the PCOS diet breakfast recipes below, my idea of what constitutes a “healthy fat” is much broader than that of your typical nutritionist or dietitian.
- Eat foods that cultivate your gut microbiome. Good health always starts with the gut, and by cultivating a healthy microbiome we can effect systemic changes to our organs, our immune system, and our brains.
- Eat plenty of non-starchy vegetables. This is an extension of the previous principle, and you’ll see it applied in many of my recipes.
- Cut out gluten and dairy. Many women with PCOS unknowingly suffer from multiple subclinical food intolerances or other forms of gut dysbiosis. Gluten and dairy are the most common problem foods.
13 PCOS Breakfast Recipes:
- Sausage McMuffin
- PCOS-Friendly Oatmeal
- Granola Bake
- Spicy Chicken Breakfast Bake
- Breakfast Burrito Bowl
- Pumpkin Pancakes
- Tex-Mex Breakfast Skillet
- Chia & Quinoa Parfait
- Swiss Chard Quiche
- Grab ‘n’ Go Egg Muffins
- Supercharged Green Smoothie
- Nutty Chai Smoothie
- Spicy Veggie Smoothie
Ready To Take The Next Step?
If you want to clean up your entire diet beyond breakfast, the following resources will help you put good ideas into practice:
PCOS Breakfast Recipe FAQ
Can I just have a smoothie for breakfast? Yes, which is why I’ve included a few smoothies in this list. Just keep in mind that it’s important to ensure you’re getting enough nutrition from your other meals. A smoothie is unlikely to sustain you as long as a solid PCOS breakfast, so make sure to prepare some PCOS-friendly snacks and/or a great PCOS lunch.
Can I skip breakfast altogether? Yes, and while it may technically be better to forgo dinner rather than breakfast, dropping to two meals a day can be a helpful way to implement time-restricted eating (TRE) a.k.a. intermittent fasting. TRE is an evidence-based lifestyle intervention that can help treat PCOS . To achieve the benefits of TRE, it’s important when skipping breakfast to avoid all sources of calories, including those found in beverages.
Can I have oatmeal? While gluten-free oats can be a useful part of a PCOS-friendly diet, consuming a bowl of regular oatmeal is likely to raise blood sugar levels too high for many PCOS women with insulin resistance. Alternative breakfast porridges (like the oatmeal recipe I’ve included in this blog) are higher in fat and protein and lower in carbohydrates. This makes them more useful for minimizing and controlling PCOS.
What about salt? While the risks of too much dietary salt have been talked about for years, studies have also shown that too little salt can lead to increased cardiovascular disease risks. The sweet spot for good health appears to be between 3,000 and 6,000 mg of sodium per day . This is the equivalent of approximately 1.5 to 3 teaspoons.
What about fruit? Ideally, fruit should be consumed in moderation, preferably in the presence of healthy fat. 1-2 servings per day are best. When eaten in moderation, the potentially adverse effects of the sugar in fruit are offset by the benefits of fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
What about coffee and caffeine? While coffee contains bioactive compounds that can be helpful for metabolic health, the acidity can cause digestive discomfort, indigestion, heartburn, and imbalances in the gut microbiome. From a purely nutritional perspective, given that any highly-caffeinated beverage has the potential to disrupt sleep and promote anxiety, minimizing consumption is preferable.
Since 2010, Kym Campbell has used evidence-based diet and lifestyle interventions to manage her PCOS. After getting her symptoms under control and falling pregnant naturally, Kym now advocates for dietary change as part of any PCOS treatment plan. Combining rigorous science and clinical advice with a pragmatic approach to habit change, Kym is on a mission to show other women how to take back control of their health and fertility. Read more about Kym and her team here.
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1Li, C., et al., Eight-hour time-restricted feeding improves endocrine and metabolic profiles in women with anovulatory polycystic ovary syndrome. J Transl Med, 2021. 19(1): p. 148.
2O’Donnell, M., et al., Urinary sodium and potassium excretion, mortality, and cardiovascular events. N Engl J Med, 2014. 371(7): p. 612-23.