“I don’t know what’s happening to me. They’re called hormones.” – Tahereh Mafi
I am reading a book called The Women’s Book from Lyle McDonald. It’s an elaborate explanation about nutrition, fat loss, and muscle gain for woman. It’s a very long book and based on researches and science. Although it feels like reading an exam material, I surprisingly enjoy the book very much.
The book starts by explaining the differences between man and woman, followed by monthly cycle and how this influences woman body and sport performance. It also focuses on nutritions for woman in the later chapters.
I’d be honest: I haven’t finished reading the book. I am on 25% completion. However, during the first few chapters, I was pretty tuned in because of the clear explanation on how menstruation cycle influences our body. As a woman myself, I can feel that monthly cycle influences my mood and body.
I also already know that our body weight changes over time depends on the cycle since years ago. However, I never really read the detailed information before. I found it very interesting to understand what happens to our body. Therefore, I will share some summary on this post.
Every month, there are 2 phases: Follicular phase (first half of the cycle) and luteal phase (second half of the cycle). Hormones composition is different on each cycle and even varied between the early and late section on each phase. Hormone controls how our body react, including body temperature, mood, water retention, and energy expenditure. Therefore, it can be expected that woman body changed over time within a month.
I won’t explain which hormones are influenced on each cycle but I’ll share the recap on the following graph.
About Eating More During PMS
Estrogen and Progesterone are two dominant hormones in woman body. Estrogen has been long been the blamed for woman body fat but it’s actually has positive impact for woman. Yes, it’s true that “estrogen thickens the connective tissue in the skin and fat matrix in the lower body and this is the primary cause of cellulite” but it is also true that estrogen produce serentonin and dopamin levels that control happiness and appetite. Also, estrogen sends leptin-like signal that helps to control hunger. This is why woman often feels their appetite increases just before period time and usually has lower appetite just before the ovulation time.
On the late luteal phase, estrogen and progesterone continue to drop. This often affect blood sugar levels to be more unstable and sometimes result in low blood sugar that impact energy mood, and hunger. We tend to crave more for high-fat and high-sugar foods during this time and this is related to estrogen drop that leads to drop in serotonin and dopamine levels.
Another point to raise is that during the luteal phase, it is reported that our body need higher calorie. It can varies between 100-300cal/day for different individual. However, most of the time, woman also eats more during this phase for the reason I have shared above and eventually, the nett result is sometimes the same or still a calorie surplus. But hey, if you want to cut a bit, it’s a good news, isn’t it?
About Tight Jeans during PMS
In general, our body weight changes from day to day and therefore, we should take average value as our measurement point instead of a one day reading. This ups and down has some pattern form woman because another important aspect that is strongly influenced by hormones is water retention.
As written on the book: “Average body weight is changing from week to week during the month with the lowest value occurring in the early follicular phase and the highest in the late luteal phase. Weight goes up from the early to late follicular phase, goes down to a different number in the early luteal before increasing again in the late luteal phase.”
This is why, it is even more important for woman to actually compared the average from the same week on monthly basis, instead of on week-to-week basis. This way, we can ‘exclude’ hormones effect as covariance that influences our body weight. To illustrate this, let me share this table:
So.. what next?
As you can see, since woman and man are biologically different, there are some unavoidable differences between us. It doesn’t mean that we can’t be treated equally (re: I’m talking about nutritions here – let’s leave other basic human right for some other time!), it just mean we need to consider all of this for a better result.