Energy intake and the menstrual cycle

Women’s weight and body composition is significantly influenced by the female sex-steroid hormones.
Concentrations of these hormones change through the menstrual cycle and influence energy bomeostasis. A review by Davidsea et al (2007 ) reviews the scientific literature on the relationship between hormonal changes across the menstrual cycle and energy balance, and whether these changes influence weight loss in women. In the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle it appears that women’s energy intake and energy expenditure are increased and they experience more frequent cravings for foods, particularly those high in carbohydrate and fat. compared to the than during the follicular phase.
The follicular phase of the menstrual cycle includes menstruation , during the first 14 or so days, with processes leading to ovulation under the control of Follicle Stimulating Hormone and later in this first 14 days oestrogen.
After ovulation the luteal phase lasts for another 14 or so days. The ovum has been expressed into the Fallopian tubes and conception is possible. During this phase Luteinising Hormone and progesterone concentrations increase. There is also a slight increase in body temperature.
These profound hormonal changes are liable to have metabolic and nutritional consequences. Amenorrhoea, absence of periods is a feature of profound weight loss.
The authors of the review suggest that studies are needed to assess the weight loss outcome of tailoring dietary recommendations and the degree of energy restriction to each menstrual phase throughout a weight management program, taking these preliminary findings into account.
A worthy thought . It is interesting that women often accumulate weight during pregnancy and possibly also in the post menopausal period of their lives.
Davidsea L et al (2007 ) Impact of the menstrual cycle on determination of energy balance : a putative role in weight loss attempts. International Journal of Obesity. Vol 31, 1777-1785.

Martin Eastwood
Back to top