Ever noticed how your menstrual cycle affects your eating habits? (Or your pelvic floor for that matter!)
Every woman is different and nutritional science is still way behind the curve here, but research to date suggests that…
- Week 1 (post period/follicular phase) – it tends to be easier to make better choices & to restrict calories here because rising oestrogen levels are thought to slightly suppress our appetites. And they also have the added bonus of helping us to build more muscle, and faster.
- Week 2 (follicular phase) – continues on this trend and rising testosterone levels are thought to make many of us feel more daring, competitive (& horny) and this is when most women see their biggest strength gains
- During this first half of our cycle our bodies tend to be more dependent on carbs and we typically have more energy.
- Week 3 (post ovulation/luteal phase) – your body tends to crave more calories in case you’ll be eating for two, digestion slows (which often leaves us constipated) and rising progesterone levels tend to make us feel more fatigued and more likely to experience water retention (which makes us weigh more). On the plus side we burn more calories!
- Week 4 (luteal phase/pre-period) – it’s common for our moods to drop and our body to crave carbs to rebuild our happy hormone (serotonin) levels.
- During the second half of our cycle our bodies tend to more dependent on fat as a source of energy. And we’re often better suited to endurance training here.
With this in mind…
- be kind to yourself if you experience real fluctuations in hunger, cravings and your general eating habits. At some points in your cycle your body will want extra energy!
- plan ahead to ensure you have more nutritious choices to hand when you’re likely to experience those cravings & hunger. (Remember protein keeps you fuller for longer!)
- eat mindfully so you’re able to notice when you’re full & to avoid over-eating
- try (as much as the kids will allow) to get sufficient sleep so your hunger and cravings doesn’t increase further as a result
- and if you’re tracking metrics around your weight, performance and various other things, make sure you’re comparing week 1 of your cycle with week 1 of your cycle or it really is comparing apples & pears