Being on your period is never the most fun time for anyone. You get cramped up, your mood changes, you experience bloating and you get those intense hunger pangs and cravings. But, for all its faults and flaws, the menstrual cycle does have a secret silver lining: It’s an undercover calorie burner, though not exactly at the times you may expect.
Considering how hungry and full of particular cravings we find ourselves during our actual period, it is only natural to assume that our body is burning more calories at that time, right? Well, it turns out – not exactly. While the menstrual cycle does boost your metabolism, it is not at the time you may expect. Here’s how menstruation plays a part in both burning calories – and appetite.
First of all, your menstrual cycle will cause you to feel increased hunger. And, while we are more likely to notice that spike while actually on our periods (when our hormones are causing specific cravings and we feel our bodies are already all out of whack), it is actually the week leading up to our period that is when our metabolism is at its highest and our bodies are burning through the most calories.
You will probably still feel that uptick in hunger while actually on your period, expect your metabolism to truly rev up to about a week before your period. If you think about it, it makes sense – your hormones are fluctuating and your body knows it has a big task coming up (being on its period) and so it would, of course, mean that it wants to stock up on food and energy ahead of time. Your body has more work to do over the next one to two weeks, so it's natural if you want to consume more food.
While hormone fluctuations are never constant and not uniform across women, it is indisputable that they affect hunger and cravings by telling your body different things. Most experts – and various studies – have shown that about one and sometimes up to two weeks prior to menstruation, your metabolism is running at full force and you are burning the most calories, compared to other days of the month.
During this time, you can expect to burn the most calories at rest. Since your metabolism is working more, you can expect to feel hungrier. It’s not, however, an essential free for all to consume like crazy – typically, your body will only require about 100 – 350 more calories per day. That does, however, mean your resting blood sugar levels are at their lowest, too, meaning you need more calories than usual to maintain a stable blood sugar level, so experts recommend that you do not overdo it at this time when it comes to exercising.