One of the hardest things about making weight for competition as a woman is dealing with your menstrual cycle. No female is going to deny it can be a challenging time! This blog is going to look at some of the common challenges which includes between bloating and the desire to eat every carb insight!Before I share some of my survival tips and secrets I think its also important to understand what’s actually going.
Overall, the scientific community is split over the nature of menstrual bloating, whether it is caused by fluid retention or something else. Unfortunately periods are still not the most widely researched aspect of health so it is a question of looking at what works for you to stop those scales going crazy. My three main survival tactics are:
- Drink plenty of water – its so easy to get dehydrated but keeping your water intake up is one of the biggest ways to beat the bloat and to help you body flush any toxins.
- Magnesium – Magnesium can help prevent bloating but the effect of your hormones can leave your body low in it. Obviously supplementation is one solution but eating those nuts, seeds and healthy greens will massively help.
- Epsom Salt Baths – Bathing in Epsom salts is known to reduce water retention and tummy bloating. It is thought that because our skin is porous, reverse osmosis takes place, which means toxins and excess fluids are drawn out of the skin as the goodness goes in, resulting in a flatter tummy. Either way a warm relaxing bath when your not feeling your best is never a bad thing!
According to a study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, ovarian hormones appear to play a major role. The study showed that high progesterone levels during the premenstrual phase may lead to compulsive eating and body dissatisfaction. There is also the fact that your time of month does increase your metabolic rate to. But don’t get too excited – it actually before your period (during the luteal phase) that you can experience a rise in your metabolic rate by 10-20% but during your actual period everything returns to its normal levels. So despite being hungry you don’t automatically have the increased metabolic rate to match / get away with eating everything in sight! So tips to help –
- Diet Tracker – The last thing you want to do is diet but a food tracker like my fitnesspal can help you keep control of your eating as well as making sure you eat enough. Just don’t be tempted to mis-report how much you trained to squeeze in an extra snack lol!
- Get Enough Sleep – Its not always easy to get a good nights sleep on your period but doing so will help with your hunger craving. The less sleep you get, the more likely you are to have appetite cravings and this is simply due to changes in hormones and neurotransmitters that occur when you are low on sleep so you’re creating a double whammy so to speak.
- Distraction techniques – I’ll be honest sometime the best way to feeling hungry is to get away from the kitchen and do whatever it takes to keep your mind off it! Whether thats a hot bath, training or an early night – you just do what a girl needs to do!
I just want chocolate / carbs!
Chocolate and carb cravings are really a thing (I can vouch!) But there are a few possible theories as to why we want them so much….
Firstly blood sugar, during your period you produce more cortisol which increases insulin sensitivity which leads to more sugar being used, and a lower sugar level so changes in the blood sugar could trigger those cravings. Secondly, it’s mood boosting. Lets be honest we can all get a bit cranky and irritable around our period so there is a theory that somehow eating chocolate increases serotonin and dopamine, which are involved with helping ‘prop up’ mood. Finally it’s about sociology. Were told that its ok to eat chocolate etc during our period because were worth it etc. This may be as bigger driver behind our choice of food rather than it just being what our body needs.
I would like to say there was an easy way to handle this aspect but it boils down to smart snacking. Now some people recommend dark chocolate (but I personally don’t like it) so I tend to eat fruit (mango is a personal fav) as well as occasional treats in the form of protein bars and my fav not do guilty pleasure of Graham’s Protein Ice Cream.
I hope you find these hints and tips useful or at least they make you feel better when the scales go haywire! I’ll probably do a follow up blog at a later date looking at how our cycle affects performance but until then feel free to comment or message me with your own survival tactics!
- Hello Flo – Why Do People Feel Insatiably Hungry During Their Period?
- Greatlist – The Real Reason You’re Always Hungry Around Your Period
- The Thirty – Do You Burn More Calories on Your Period? We Asked the Experts
- Menstrual cycle effects on insulin sensitivity in women with type 1 diabetes: a pilot study.
- Psychology Today – Why Do I Crave Chocolate During My Period
Photo Credit – Pexels