Do you feel really hungry before your period? Do you find yourself eating more to deal with the hunger and then feel frustrated that you can’t stick to your diet?
Well, don’t be too hard on yourself because the urge to overeat isn’t your fault. Feeling really hungry before your period is actually perfectly normal. Here’s why.
Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of calories you burn at rest (regardless of the amount of exercise you do). BMR calculations are based on the assumption that there is one answer for everyone. But this isn’t actually true.
If you have regular menstrual cycles, your BMR fluctuates throughout the month.
This means that at certain times of the month you burn more or less calories regardless of the amount of exercise you do.
(Women on the Pill or who don’t ovulate will not experience these fluctuations).
Here’s how it works.
Your BMR drops at your period, and remains at its lowest level before ovulation. With ovulation, BMR begins to rise up to your next period. For some women this increase in BMR can be as much as 11 to 14% or up to 359 calories per day.
So hunger before your period is real and normal, but it’s not an excuse to overeat. Here are 4 strategies to help you manage your hunger at this time of the month:
1. Get to know when it happens so you can plan ahead.
Reflect on your past periods. It’s quite likely you can identify when hunger comes on. What time of day does it hit? Track your next few periods on an app or spreadsheet and you may even be able to identify the exact days of your cycle that hunger increases.
If you know in advance when you’ll be hungry, you can plan to eat more at this time and not feel bad about doing so.
2. Pick a nutritious snack to be your “go-to” during this time.
Plan what you will eat before those hunger pains hit. If you only have junk food in the house when the hunger hits, you’ll eat poorly and you’ll wind up feeling frustrated.
Instead pick a nutritious snack or keep some healthy options nearby for when the hunger strikes.
3. Track your mood.
If you suffer from PMS, particularly if you feel depressed, you may be even more susceptible to an increased appetite before your period.
Studies have shown that eating extra carbohydrates during this period can improve depression, tension, anger, confusion, sadness, fatigue, alertness, and calmness in PMS sufferers.
Choose carbohydrate based snacks and meals to help with your hunger if you suffer from poor moods before your period. Try a protein shake with a banana and raw cacao powder for an easy fix. The chocolate will add an extra punch of feel good chemicals!
4. Don’t try to resist it.
Most women try to fight hunger before their period as though it is a matter of self-discipline. The hunger is a real physical symptom. It’s not in your head. If you try to fight it, you’ll probably end up losing the battle and binging on whatever food happens to be convenient.
So don’t try to resist it but don’t overdo it either. At the most, you probably need a few hundred extra calories and only for a few days each month.
Remember, eating slightly more before your period doesn’t show a lack of willpower and it is not a reason to beat yourself up about not sticking to your diet. But it’s not an excuse to overeat either.
Be extra kind to yourself during this time and choose foods that will nourish your body.