Oh, the dreaded week of PMS. The cravings, the discomfort, the emotions. I don’t know about you, but chocolate, carbs, and exhaustion are the regular for me when the time rolls around. And somehow I can eat twice as much food.
Well, I have good news.
Your body knows what it’s doing. And you’re supposed to listen. But is it really okay to up the carb intake and get a little lazy in the gym?
Diet Cycling & Satisfying Cravings
Low carb and high fat is the diet we usually stick to. However, your body needs variety as the hormone cycle has different demands. When you’re on your period, your hormones are the most whack of any time during the month.
During this time, you may need more insulin. Insulin is the hormone that processes sugar and is released when you eat carbs. Your carb cravings are actually your body saying, “I need a little extra insulin right now. Bring on the carbs!”
In fact, to test this, doctors put their patients on a high healthy carb diet a week before their periods. Now, we’re talking sweet potatoes and berries – not pizza and beer! The key is healthy, low-toxin carbs. The results? Good news for us. Going heavier on carbs once a month resulted in a hormonal shift for the better.
This is called diet cycling (or diet variation) because you’re moving in and out of ketosis (low carb state) and aligning your diet with ever-changing hormonal needs.
A permanent low-carb diet is actually damaging to women in the long term. Our bodies respond differently to fasting and ketosis than men’s bodies. We’re much more sensitive to starvation signals from regular fasting and have more hormonal changes on a regular basis.
Fun fact: Men have a hormonal week, too. (Not sure when? Just pay attention. If your man lives with you, his cycle is probably synced up with yours.) Diet shifting and an increase in healthy carbs during that week can also benefit men.
& exercise less?
Yep, you read that right. Timing is everything.
Some researches did a cool study where they had women do really intense high-frequency leg resistance workouts for the first 2 weeks of their hormonal cycle 5x a week . They had amazing results.
For the women, jump height increased. They had an increase in lean body mass in their legs and higher piqued torque values in their hamstrings.
When they did the training in the last 2 weeks of their cycles, nada. None of these insane results at all.
So if your body is telling you to do some yoga and go to bed early, be free of your guilt. Skip the intense gym workout. The cravings know best.
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P.S. – Need some chill self-care during your PMS-ing? Here’s a 4-part free guided meditation series. Get zen in less than 5 minutes a day! Just drop your email below.