Being on your period can be exhausting, but do you actually burn more calories on your period? Let’s take a look.
Your period can deal a pretty rough hand at times.
For one, you’re bleeding, which can be messy and inconvenient.
And then there’s the cramping, aching and bloating, and the emotional stuff, like anxiety, irritability, and mood swings.
Isn’t there any good news? Isn’t there any truth, for example, to the rumor that you burn more calories on your period?
If our research into these sorts of things has taught us anything, the answer isn’t usually black or white.
Let’s take a look.
In this article: 📝
- Do I burn more calories on my period?
- Is it normal to eat more on your period?
- Do I need more calories on my period?
Do I burn more calories on my period?
Well (yeah, you guessed it), it depends.
Whether you burn more calories when you’re on your period really depends on something called your resting metabolic rate (RMR).
This is the rate at which your body burns energy when it’s completely at rest, when all it’s doing is breathing, circulating blood, and running basic brain functions.
If your RMR is high, you’re burning calories just by, well, existing.
If it’s low, you might find that you gain weight quite easily.
In theory, if your RMR is higher when you’re on your period, you’d be burning more calories.
In practice, however, this doesn’t seem to be a universal truth.
A study released in 2003 found that there was quite a large discrepancy between women’s RMR during menstruation.
While some women’s RMR increased by up to 10%, other women’s RMR changed as little as 1.7%.
What does this mean?
It means that whether you burn more calories when you have your period can vary from person to person.
You could burn quite a few calories.
But some of us won’t burn many calories at all. It really depends.
Is it normal to eat more on your period?
This one does have a definite answer: yes, it’s totally normal to eat more either on your period or a few days before.
If you don’t, that’s fine, too, but we just want to reassure you that if you find yourself reaching for another bowl of Häagen-Dazs, you’re not alone.
Your sex hormones, including progesterone, rise when you’re in the luteal phase of your cycle, which takes place the week before your period starts.
This can make you feel hungrier, cause intense food cravings, or make you binge. Take a look at this 2012 study for a bit more info.
Do I need more calories on my period?
Need is a strong word. Nope, we don’t really need to eat more calories on our period.
While we might feel like eating more high-calorie foods like pretzels or chocolate, we need to be careful about giving ourselves a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card at this time.
Even if we’re lucky enough to have an RMR that increases slightly when on our period, indulging in all the fatty, salty, or sugary foods we love still isn’t great for our health.
If you can, try and stick to your everyday eating regime as much as you can.
Or if you’re craving very specific food, it might be your indication you are lacking specific nutrients like iron.
The good news is that you don’t have to shy away from exercise because you’re on your period.
In fact, different types of exercise at different times in your cycle can help you feel better physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Before your period starts, you might want to opt for something gentle, like swimming or yoga.
On the whole, it’s safest to assume that you don’t burn more calories when you’re on your period.
Try to be conscious about the calories you consume and spend while also being forgiving if your body feels like an extra helping of something tasty.