Why Do You Get Hungry Before Your Period?

by admin on May 25, 2009


Cravings, bloating and then the hunger – the best diets are often laid asunder by your period. For many women, the symptoms leading up to and during the week of your period are outrageous, and one of these is the hunger that seems to ratchet up from nowhere.

The reason for this increase in hunger is simple. Your body uses more calories during the time right before and in some cases during your period. This increase in calories makes your body burn more calories during this time, and as the calories as burning you’re going to feel hungry more often.

To compound this, the hormones at work in your body during this time are also likely making you crave particular food items. So suddenly, you’re starving, you already feel bloated from water weight and now you want to eat chocolate or chips. No wonder we all feel so miserable during this week!

Why Do I Get So Hungry Before and During My Period

Calories are units of energy. You can think of them like tiny gallons or liters of gas. Just like a car burns through gas, your body burns through calories. Every day, if you were to lie in bed and do nothing at all, you would burn a certain number of calories just being alive. This number is your Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR.

As you lay in your bed doing nothing at all, your body is burning up fuel, or calories, keeping your digestive system working, helping your heart beat and all of the other wonderful things that happen inside us that we don’t have to think about on a daily basis. Every thirty days or so, the systems in your body pick up another task.

With the menstrual cycle, the week of your period makes your body do some extra work. This extra work burns more calories and your BMR actually goes up. In some women, the week of your period can make you burn up to fifteen percent more calories, and you haven’t changed a single thing about your lifestyle!

Eating and Your Period

Of course, if you’re trying to figure out why your period makes you so hungry, the answer is clear. Your body is doing more work; your body needs more calories. To get the calories it needs, your body sends a message to your brain telling you you’re hungry more often. Since you’re feeling hungry, you eat.

This is a tricky week for women who are paying close attention to their figures, however. Being extra hungry often means you are compelled to eat. The additional symptoms of this week make eating even more enjoyable. I mean, really – if you’re sitting in sweat pants already watching weepy movies, wouldn’t it taste better with a pint of ice cream?

The trouble is, you may feel hungrier, but the extra calorie burning can be a bit deceptive. Your body is burning some extra calories, but only about 100 to 300 per day, and only for a few days at a time. Sadly, 100 calories is the same as one of those tiny snack packs you can put in your lunch while you’re dieting. At most, you can enjoy a candy bar for close to 300. A pint of ice cream is easily 500 to almost 1,000 calories at a time – it’s not justified by period calorie burn.

Controlling Hunger and Your Period

The best way to stay healthy and watch your figure is to listen to your body more than your appetite. You may feel a strong craving for ice cream, but that probably has more to do with comfort then nutrition. If you’re feeling like shoveling through a bag of chips, don’t give in to the craving. If you really can’t stand it, count out enough chips to be about one serving and then stop. Savor the chips you’re eating, but leave the rest put away.

If you can prevent your appetite from getting the best of you by eating filling foods without many extra calories such as lean protein and vegetables, you will benefit in another way from feeling so hungry this week. When your BMR goes up, as it does the days before your period, you’re burning some extra calories. If you fend off the desire to shove junk in your face this week, you can actually burn off more calories instead of consuming them.

If you are one of the lucky ones burning an extra 300 calories per day for about five days, you’ll lose half a pound by not doing anything except waking up in the morning. After gaining up to five pounds in retained water, losing that water plus a bit more feels outstanding the week after your cycle – it just takes a bit of willpower to reach that point.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

DB May 11, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Ok.  So I wasn't just imagining things…

JJ June 10, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Ok. It's true!

HM68 June 11, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Whew!  I was beginning to think that I was just a pig!  Glad to know that getting that hungry a week before my period is the norm!

NL September 1, 2010 at 6:02 pm

So glad its not just me :) I feel so relieved haha

danielle September 21, 2010 at 8:15 am

oh my god i just googled why do i eat so much before and during my period. its my first day and i swear in the last 4 days i consumed more than what i eat in a 7 day week and im still going, im so sick of feeling good for only 2 weeks out of 4… think i need to get to the docs to work out what i can do about it!!!!!

admin September 21, 2010 at 8:33 am

hi Danielle,

I can understand your problem. Why not work out and burn those extra calories?

Stacy Smith,

iiBc.Com Support.

tayriley October 19, 2010 at 8:05 am

wow didnt know that metabolism rose before ur period. good to know that i can eat more and not feel guilty. i always know when i'm going to start my period soon because i can eat and eat and not get full. i usually only eat one big meal a day with lots of snacking. today, however, i've had 3 full meals and am still hungry. 

Cheryl March 2, 2011 at 1:34 am

I was looking for tips from women on how to get past these intense cravings to eat right before our period.  For years I start a diet and do very well till I hit this time frame, and bam…crash and burn.  Its just so frustrating. Any advise??  Thanks!

sh March 10, 2011 at 11:21 am

So i their any  way to solve this problem

maddy June 5, 2011 at 10:39 am

omg… i was actually stressing so much i have been googling why am i getting so hungry and eating so much lately??? i know i am due for a period but usually before i get it i can control myself more then i am before this one!… i actually am eating double what i usually eat in a day :L its making me feel so bad and angry i really needed to hear its normal for everyone and that your metabolism does go higher because im not planning on gaining anymore weight!  people also say its stress..but i dont feel stressed even though a stressful event has come up i still dont feel stressed does tha still mean i am without knowing? giving the reason why i am eating more + being due for a period?. also i am pmsing soo much ive been so emotional ald pissed off lately! its horrible!!!

Lizzie January 10, 2012 at 2:26 am

I am glad I'm not alone thinking that it's just me who is eating way too much before my period. It's insane! I too do well on my diet/ calorie intake until my period…I just eat even though I'm not hungry! I am making note in my yearly planner to pinpoint the days and times to keep an eye on it and keep the hungry monster at bay

NomNom January 17, 2012 at 3:58 am

I'm a RAVENOUS animal. I literally sat next to the pantry and just ate and ate. I feel so guilty because I've been watching my calories and I feel like I'm a drug addict or something, there is no stopping me! So far I've consumed about 20,000 calories worth of crap, and I know in 10 min I'm going Walter Hudson on my pantry again. I'm going to try to drink a gallon of water to slow myself now.

shaneira January 20, 2012 at 2:02 am

i dont have an eating disorder or anything, but i normally eat about 400 calories a day, but when im on my period, i eat like 1000 calories. then i feel so guilty and scared because i cant workout because of the pain. I HATE PERIODS!!!

jc January 28, 2012 at 12:06 am

Those who say its "all in your mind" can stuff it!  It is like clockwork for me. 3-5 days before and I feel like there is an animal in my stomach growling to be fed.  Hunger actually WOKE ME UP this morning at 6am! And this is after I had a full meal last night.  Then, tunger at 10 am caused my stomach to churn and make such ungodly noises while in my cube I know my whole department must have heard.  My stomach is gowling and churning right now in fact.  And I KNOW its due to my period as does all other women know it.  You know your own body.  So any nay-sayers can just scoot.  The problem of course is that I have been really on a diet and its been ok. But today I am absoultely tortured. And there are two boxes of Girl Scout Cookies in the cupboard. LORD GIVE ME STRENGTH!

jc January 28, 2012 at 12:07 am

Those who say its "all in your mind" can stuff it!  It is like clockwork for me. 3-5 days before and I feel like there is an animal in my stomach growling to be fed.  Hunger actually WOKE ME UP this morning at 6am! And this is after I had a full meal last night.  Then, tunger at 10 am caused my stomach to churn and make such ungodly noises while in my cube I know my whole department must have heard.  My stomach is growling and churning right now in fact.  And I KNOW its due to my period as does all other women know it.  You know your own body.  So any nay-sayers can just scoot.  The problem of course is that I have been really on a diet and its been ok. But today I am absolutely tortured. And there are two boxes of Girl Scout Cookies in the cupboard. LORD GIVE ME STRENGTH!

Lidia February 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm

I knew it had to be a reason… If anyone needs help with it, I try to fight the hunger drinking green tea with milk, it makes you feel full for a while, also green tea is really good for your health and helps to absorb less fat… and during the winter a hot beverage feels great!

Armani March 4, 2012 at 6:52 pm

I feel so upset. I managed to behave for about 3 weeks, and now I've ruined all the hard work. I've eaten so much & feel so guilty now.
Can anyone please advise me on how I can stay away from over-eating during this time of the month?

KvE March 9, 2012 at 11:22 am

I ALWAYS know when it's coming because I get so hungry and crave five things (that I want to eat at the same time). Sour patch kids, jelly beans, chocolate, pretzels, and potato chips. 
Trying to ignore my cravings doesn't work for me. Sandwich bags are my savior at this time. Once I get my junk food I portion it into sandwich bags. I use the serving size to figure out what of each item I can put into individual bag with a limit of 250 calories per sandwich bag. I put the sandwich bags in the furthest highest cabinet. It is less tempting that way because I already don't feel like getting out of bed. 
For meals I try and stick with soups and use a smaller than normal spoon so it lasts longer. Also I will sometimes put some rice into my soup. Making a big pot of soup, especially in a slow cooker, is cheap, low on calories, and can make many meals. 
For exercise I don't feel like doing it at all. Curled up in bed with some movies and a bag of popcorn is where you will find me. Since my movie time is watching netflix on the wii in between each movie I will force myself out of bed for 10-15 of WII sports or WII fit. I even set a timer so I don't cheat. 
I try and plan for this in advance, preparing my snacks and soup a day or two before. It's too easy to not feel like doing it otherwise. 

Michelle March 22, 2012 at 9:03 pm

This is a tad after the other comments, but after finding this and reading it all, it makes me feel sooooo much better. Sucks that our bodies only burn and extra 100-300 cals, but during this week leading up to my period … IDC! I feel like a savage because I can eat and eat and eat and never feel full. It's absolutely ridic. Then the bloating from the period on top of the crap I've eaten … I feel like a whale. And I get embarrassed because my husband will look at me crooked as I'm taking a bite of his food after I've eaten all of mine hahahhaa. I feel like I'm preg all over again! I have no will power or self control. I give into my cravings, and I try to do so within reason. Otherwise, I'm soooo mean because I'm starving. Ugh it's a lose-lose situation ladies!

Cynthia March 26, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Lidia, I feel you are not aware of the physiological process going on here in the body. Green tea does not help you absorb less fat.
Eat lean protein and fiber that will keep you full for a while. Try a rice and bean burrito or quesodilla.  It will be delicious and nutritious. I will not make stupid claims that say "it will help you burn fat!" or  "you'll absorb less fat"
This article is accurate, but please do not listen to internet claims of health. They are usually based on opinion.

Rachel March 29, 2012 at 3:58 am

Sheneria, 
 If you are only consuming 400 calories a day and working out, that is extremely dangerous and not good for your body. Even eating 1,000 calories, your body will go into starvation mode and try to cling on to whatever it can get for fuel. If it doesn't get food, it will start taking from your muscles. Your body does amazing things to try and stay alive but you must remember your heart is a muscle- if you don't take care of it, it will stop.  Exercise is probably doing way more damage than good on your body because it isn't getting the proper fuel to function properly. 
Having suffered with a severe eating disorder myself, I can assure you that there definitely some food relationship issues going on. I also went through a long amount of time where I was in denial. It's not worth it! 

Em April 3, 2012 at 9:10 pm

haha I literally am getting my period in about ten days and ive been so hungry today. I know its my period because my bubbies are all sore and stuff. So i just consumed a bowl of steak lmao and a big glass of diet coke. Satisfaction…without junkfood calories.

Patrica April 6, 2012 at 11:47 am

My cravings always get the best of me, during and before my period. If I see it, I'll eat it. It's REALLY hard, to avoid something calling out to you, when it's right in front of you. I try my best, but, it just can't be helped. 
On another note, I'm not a weight gainer. Having or off my period. The only that happens (as far as weight goes), is I get really bloated(full lookin' belly), and an hour, or 2, later, my stomachs back flat again. It's pretty weird…

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