Before ovulation, high estrogen levels decrease appetite. After ovulation, it is vice-versa. Low estrogen contributes to PMS – more ghrelin (hunger) and cortisol (stress). Record your moods and cravings through your cycle. Tap into your emotions and vent them out. Know when you're genuinely hungry. Avoid stamina-reducing foods (gluten, dairy, sugar) and test for food allergies.
Losing weight with the menstrual cycle, is that possible?
As you might know hunger is directed by two hormones: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is a hormone made by fat cells that decreases your appetite, while ghrelin is a hormone that increases your appetite.
But, did you know that as female hormones fluctuate throughout the cycle, so do your hunger and cravings?
When you’re told you have PMS and cravings, it’s all good to know what the symptoms are, but it’s more helpful to know that there is nothing wrong with you. What you are experiencing is normal. Hunger and cravings are the results of your biological changes.
Looking at hormones changes throughout the four phases of the female cycle, you will find that:
As estrogens levels increase during the follicular phase (day 1 to 14, for an average 28 days cycle), your appetite decreases. Estrogen, namely estradiol, inhibits food intake. There is a direct effect on the brain.
Estrogen will peak up just before ovulation.
Falling estrogen causes serotonin levels to drop and cortisol (stress hormone) levels to rise. Added to increased progesterone and testosterone levels, your appetite increases. This is when you ladies may feel the symptoms of PMS coming up, including increased hunger and cravings.
Tips To Be Aware Of Your Body Needs
To make sure that you feel these changes, and understand the needs of your body, here are a few exercises I recommend my clients to do:
1. Mind-Body Connection Tools
As you move throughout your cycles, tune more into your body, and understand for yourself what those changing hormones bring to your life. Whether you experience more hunger, are more tired or more energetic, whether you feel more or less social, etc.
Tuning into your body and how you feel, and keeping a record of it (for example through journaling), will give you an idea about what is normal for you, and make you feel more in tune with your body and your cycles.
2. Feel Your Hunger
It’s very easy to confuse hunger with thirst. As you experience the first pangs of what you think is hunger, drink a glass of water. Then wait until it comes back again and eat, slowly, mindfully, by appreciating every bite.
As you eat, ask yourself (and your body) if this is what you need right now, and how the food that you eat makes you feel. Tapping into the fuel you feed yourself, will help you make the best decision with regards to what nourishes you and make you thrive, and will help you reach a better hormonal balance naturally.
3. Tap Tap Tap
(a.k.a. EFT, or Tapping) is my tool of choice when it comes to tackling emotions stored in the body. As they manifest and you don’t know what to do, tapping will help you allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling, and release these stored emotions from your body and your subconscious.
Hunger sometimes is a manifestation of stress, or stored emotions, and releasing them will help you implement the above tools more easily.
4. Eliminate Common Food Intolerances
The foods that have a tendency to decrease your stamina are the following ones:
- Sugar and artificial sweeteners (and yes, that also means alcohols)
I also share the value of doing an elimination diet to test for food sensitivities. To test those foods, you will have to remove them completely from your diet for 3 weeks. This is the time your body will need to wake up and detoxify from those foods.