The Truth About Your Cycle and Your Appetite

There's a reason you crave chocolate.

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The cliché is at least a little true: A new study found that emotional eating in women tends to spike about a week before their periods. But PMS doesn’t automatically equal diet disaster, says Joshua Klein, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Check out these facts.

You're not wired to binge

Studies have shown that during the second half of your cycle (the luteal phase), you may experience an amped-up appetite because levels of progesterone—an ovarian hormone also connected to hunger—are higher. But there are other hormones counterbalancing that. “For example, leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite, is higher during the second half of the cycle, too,” says Dr. Klein.

There's a reason you crave chocolate

Insulin and the happy hormone serotonin dip during the luteal phase, while the stress hormone cortisol increases. “Chocolate makes you feel good,” says Dr. Klein. “The fat and sugars help replenish insulin and serotonin levels in the brain, elevating your mood.”

Your metabolism gets a mini boost

Most women actually burn slightly more calories than normal during this phase. “We don’t know exactly why,” says Dr. Klein, “but it could be that mechanisms are in play preparing for possible pregnancy, which requires more energy expenditure.” So it’s all right to indulge a bit. You have (a little!) wiggle room.

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