Ask a Nutritionist: Why Am I So Hungry on My Period?

Hey Jess, I always find that I am crazy hungry and craving chocolate just before my period. It’s like my appetite goes into overdrive. Any idea what’s behind this sudden shift?

hunger period

These cues are a clear sign that your period is on its way. Rest assured you’re not alone. Let’s understand what’s going on and dive into the reasons behind it.

But before we do that, let’s first quickly recap the hormone changes that occur through the menstrual cycle stages.

Follicular phase (days 0-14)

The cycle kick starts with what’s commonly known as your period. Oestrogen and progesterone levels are low and the uterine lining sheds.

Then, oestrogen levels rise, promoting the ovaries to prepare an egg for release.

Ovulation (around days 14-17)

An egg is released from the ovary and oestrogen levels then dip.

Luteal phase (days 17-28)

Progesterone levels rise and surpass oestrogen.

3 factors that affect your hunger levels

Hormonal roller coaster

If you check out the stages above, you’ll notice that just before your period, progesterone levels rise. This hormone is thought to boost appetite so when it peaks before ovulation, it might be the reason you find yourself craving more snacks.

Resting metabolic rate fluctuations

In the luteal phase, as progesterone and oestrogen levels are heightened our resting metabolic rate (RMR) increases. As RMR increases, it signifies that your body is burning more calories at rest, potentially leading to feelings of hunger.

You may notice this more during the premenstrual phases of your cycle, as your body craves additional energy to sustain the increased metabolic activity.

Serotonin swings

Changes in hunger and cravings during your menstrual cycle might sync up with the ups and downs of serotonin levels, also known as the happy hormone. These may drop during the luteal phase and result in you heading to the fridge more frequently.

How to help ease the cravings

Mindful snacking

When faced with the munchies, opt for nutrient-dense snacks during the premenstrual phase. To help, have a small serving of your craving and pair it with food such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains. For example, eat a square of chocolate with fruit, rather than devouring a whole bag of chocolate buttons (my go-to craving).

Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water throughout the day, as sometimes, thirst can be mistaken for hunger.


Aim to stick to a routine, even on the days you just want to curl up into a ball. It doesn’t have to be high intensity, even a walk in the countryside or a short yoga session can improve mood and potentially help to regulate appetite and cravings.


Every month, some of us are united by our common cravings just before our period. But remember, you’re not alone. Hormonal changes, especially in the luteal phase, alongside fluctuations in resting metabolic rate and serotonin levels contribute to these feelings.

Embrace mindful snacking, stay hydrated and do gentle exercise to navigate these hunger waves. Always remember that it's okay to give into cravings. Be kind to yourself during this time.

Jessica Stansfield, RNutr

Junior Nutrition Manager

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