Nutrition FAQ | Why do I get so hungry right before that time of the month?

Posted on August 20, 2019 by

NSWIS athletes get a wide range of assistance and support about diet and nutrition to use food as their performance advantage and reach their goals.

Over time there has been some trends in questions which are common from athletes about their diet and what can help support training.

The specific needs of each individual athlete are always different depending on their goal and training loads but below are some explanations for some of the more common questions and scenarios athletes talk to the NSWIS Dietitian about.


Why do I get so hungry right before that time of the month?

At NSWIS over half of our athletes are female, each one of them subject to regular menstrual cycles. This monthly fluctuation in female physiology can have a big impact on energy levels and how an athlete presents to training. Everyone’s cycle will be different and vary from woman to woman and cycle to cycle.

Often female athletes will report variations and increases to their dietary habits around their cycle due to high appetite and cravings – but it’s not just a matter of having low will power.

Often in the second two weeks, known as the luteal phase, increases in body temperature and hormone fluctuation play a role in energy usage and energy requirements of the body. In the week prior to your cycle starting there can be an additional energy demand of up to 1200kJ per day on top of regular metabolic rate and training demands!

Along with this increased daily energy demand, insulin sensitivity is increased and managing blood glucose levels is challenged at a time it is actually more important to maintain consistent blood glucose and energy levels.

Further, sleep is interrupted in this phase and dopamine and serotonin drop – thus the perfect storm for a block of chocolate, or drive appetite to lead the body to over compensate intake through high sugar, high energy food which then well exceeds the slight increase in energy requirements.

In the same way an increased training demand requires a greater intake of energy, in the last week of your cycle there is also a place to increase energy intake to meet the physiological demands on the body.

Having an understanding of what phase of your cycle you are in means you can anticipate these demands to increase intake with an additional snack during the day, preferably one that includes some good fats like avocado on grainy crackers, a natural yoghurt tub with berries, peanut butter on celery or a shallow handful of almonds.


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