Most women have heard a rumor that their metabolism is amped up when it’s their time of the month, and wondering what to do about it.
But is it true, do you burn more calories on your period? If so, you may be asking yourself, should I eat more calories on my period to curb my period cravings, and why am I so hungry on my period?
Your monthly cycle can impact your body’s functions in various ways, which can differ for everyone. Understanding more about your body during your period can positively impact performance, and we are here to help.
In this article, we will answer your question, do you burn more calories on your period and give you tips and tricks for getting the most out of your body during this time.
We will talk about the following:
- How Does the Menstrual Cycle Impact Your Body?
- Metabolic Changes and Caloric Expenditure
- Factors Affecting Energy Levels on Your Period
- Tips for Managing Energy Levels During Menstruation
- Do You Burn More Calories On Your Period?
How Does the Menstrual Cycle Impact Your Body?
If you are a menstruating woman, you know how your menstrual cycle can impact your body before, during, and after menstruation. While every woman has a unique experience with their cycle, certain physiological factors occur during menstruation that are similar for everyone.
What Happens During Your Cycle
For women who menstruate, their hormones fluctuate during different times in their cycle. These fluctuations in hormones can have an impact on appetite control as well as eating behaviors. This is because, during the reproductive cycle, the amount of energy you need to intake varies.
Energy demands are greater before ovulation and during the luteal phase (which occurs before menstruation).
Because of this, women often experience period cravings for foods high in carbohydrates since carbohydrates are a great energy source. Some people refer to these cravings as being a symptom of PMS.
As previously mentioned, hormones fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle. This also causes appetite, cravings, and energy needs to fluctuate. These fluctuations are often in line with the cyclical rhythms in serotonin.
Serotonin is known to have an influence on appetite and food cravings. During the time in the menstrual cycle when serotonin levels are low, some women may experience increased cravings for carbohydrates and sweet foods to temporarily boost serotonin levels.This is typical and not frowned upon. However, not monitoring your food intake during this time can sometimes lead to emotional eating patterns and potential weight fluctuations.
If you are currently on a weight loss plan, you should have as many healthy, craving-satisfying options on hand as possible during this time.
Snacking to boost energy levels is okay if it is done in moderation.
Remember that snacking does not always have to mean going off the deep end. Foods like fruits and whole grain cereal bars provide your body energy from carbs without stacking up calories.
Metabolic Changes and Caloric Expenditure
Every woman’s body varies during their cycle, and not every woman has the same experience, but certain things occur during different times in the menstrual cycle that are unavoidable, even if they impact some women less than others.
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) & Energy Expenditure
The term basal metabolic rate, or BMR, refers to the number of calories your body needs to perform basic functions when essentially doing nothing. There have been some studies that suggest that BMR may increase during the menstrual cycle’s luteal phase (the second half).
This increase is assumed to be mostly due to the rise in progesterone levels. It may also be due to things like increased body temperature, higher heart rate, and potential water retention, which can slightly elevate energy expenditure.
That being said, an increase in BMR has the potential to lead to a slightly higher caloric expenditure during this phase, but this increase is likely not significant enough to need to account for when calorie counting.
Estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle, and these fluctuations may impact how nutrients are metabolized and stored.
During the premenstrual phase, some studies suggest that there may be a slight shift towards greater carbohydrate utilization rather than fat metabolism. This shift in nutrient partitioning may affect overall energy balance.
If you are an endurance athlete, consider this when carb-loading for events or eating during events.
During this time in the menstrual cycle, the body may need even more carbs than usual, and some research has shown that the body may also struggle to store glycogen as effectively, so it is a good idea to load up just in case.
Factors Affecting Energy Levels on Your Period
During menstruation, your energy levels can be impacted by various factors that have nothing to do with caloric expenditure. Menstruating women often experience pain from cramping, discomfort from bloating, headaches, sleep disturbances, and anxiety.
You may also wonder to yourself, why am I so hungry on my period? While you may not actually burn more calories during your period, this does not mean that you are not in need of more energy.
If you sleep less than usual, feel unmotivated due to pain and discomfort, and struggle emotionally, your body may need an extra boost to get through the day, which may mean that you should eat more calories on your period.
While you may not necessarily be burning a ton more calories during your period, you will likely feel the need to fuel your body more due to the aforementioned factors.
Menstruation places demand on your body that it does not deal with every day, so having the natural desire to change eating, sleeping, and workout habits makes sense. It is important to listen to your body during this time and respect what it asks of you so you do not end up burnt out.
Tips for Managing Energy Levels on Your Period
So, should I eat more calories on my period to keep my energy levels up?
Although you may not burn significantly more calories on your period, your body is still experiencing many changes, and you may need to alter your typical routine to accommodate and improve your energy levels.
Here are some tips for managing your energy level when on your period.
#1: Make Sleep a Priority
Sleep disturbances right before and during your period are not uncommon.
Fluctuations in hormones can cause anxiety, impacting your ability to fall asleep or sleep well. Setting aside adequate sleep time and even a nap during the day, if needed, is a great way to help avoid major lulls in energy during the day.
You should aim to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep nightly.
Create a relaxing sleeping environment and try to stay consistent with your sleep and wake schedule so that your body’s internal clock is regulated.
#2: Stay Hydrated
This saying gets old sometimes. It is often given as a solution to various problems. However, it is easy to do and can make a difference. By drinking a sufficient amount of fluids throughout the day, you can avoid dehydration.
You may be surprised to know that not being adequately hydrated can cause you to feel fatigued.
Sip on cold water throughout the day to help you stay hydrated and feel energized.
#3: Eat a Balanced Diet
You should always try to maintain a well-balanced diet, but this may be especially helpful during your period.
When you focus on eating whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats, your body is more likely to get in all the nutrients it needs for optimal functioning.
During your period, make your best effort to prioritize iron-rich foods like leafy greens, legumes, and lean meats to support healthy iron levels.
People who are already low in iron may feel extra tired during their period due to blood loss and the loss of iron that goes with it. Attempting to restore your iron levels may help.
You should also aim to eat foods high in vitamin B12, like dairy, eggs, and fortified cereals.
This vitamin is important in energy production because it aids your body in converting the food you consume into energy. By having adequate levels of B12 in your system, you may be better able to support energy metabolism and fight off fatigue.
#4: Manage Stress
Effectively managing your stress levels during your period may help you get more sleep and feel less anxious. Doing things like deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or engaging in whatever activities you enjoy can help manage stress.
When you feel stressed, this can exacerbate feelings of fatigue.
This is why finding healthy ways to manage stress can help maintain desired energy levels. This is especially important during your period, but it is a good idea to regularly incorporate these practices into your life.
Exercising during your period may be a turnoff, but it is a great way to overcome fatigue and discomfort.
While some people think you should take time off during your period, your hormones are optimal for peak performance during this time, so while you may feel tired, anxious, or uncomfortable if you do get out there and exercise, you may actually surprise yourself.
By engaging in physical activity, you can help boost your energy levels.
This results from increased blood flow that releases endorphins and improves mood. If you are not up for intense or long workouts, opt for light to moderate exercise. You can choose to do activities you enjoy that are not very demanding such as walking, jogging, cycling, or yoga.
Do You Burn More Calories On Your Period?
So, do you need more calories on your period?
Menstrual cycles are complex. There are variations in hormones and energy levels, and it can be hard to grasp what your body needs during different times of the menstrual cycle.
Contrary to popular belief, you may be more heavily impacted during the week or a few days before your period than during your period.
While you do not burn enough extra calories during your period worth accounting for, you may have lower energy levels which might mean you have greater energy demands and increased appetite.
You should listen to your body and take care to manage your energy levels during your period, and remember that everyone’s body is different, and even your own body can change over time.
If you are wondering whether or not you should work out on your period, check out The Complete Guide to working out on your period.