Jonesing for chocolate and pasta a few days before your cycle starts? You’re certainly not alone. Getting hungry before your cycle stems from hormonal fluctuations as well as a metabolic need to support the intense process taking place in your body (via Greatist).
Like most things with your body, your predisposition to PMS-imposed hunger is likely due in part to genetics. But, your hormone levels fluctuate throughout your entire cycle, meaning that your period can impact neurotransmitters like serotonin. For instance, if you find yourself looking for crackers, pasta, or bread, it may be your body’s way of trying to make up for an imbalance by eating more of these foods. During your luteal phase, and during menstruation, your lowered serotonin levels may leave you feeling anxious, depressed, cramping, and experiencing other PMS symptoms (via Greatist). Carbs help raise your levels of serotonin, thus attempting to alleviate these feelings of discomfort.
In other words, you can’t blame your body — it needs the help!
Estrogen and progesterone fluctuate, making your appetite follow suit
While you ovulate, your estrogen levels heighten and progesterone stays relatively low. Since progesterone tends to increase your appetite and estrogen does the opposite, you may feel less ravished during your ovulation phase (via Refinery29). Right before your period begins, however, the opposite happens — progesterone surges as you near your period, making your stomach beg for more food and sustenance.
Plus, your body is also performing a greater amount of work as it prepares for your menstrual cycle. You likely know how taxing your cycle can feel — shedding your uterine lining and all the cramping that comes with it is no joke! As your body prepares for this process, it may need between 250-350 additional calories per day during this time (via Refinery29). To offset this fatigue, aim to get more iron from your diet as you head into your cycle to avoid getting anemic.
Between the hormonal roller coaster and the metabolic ups and downs, your body likely needs more support and energy as your period gets closer. Know that this is completely normal and feeling the need to consume a few extra calories during this time is nothing to worry about!
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