Brain Foods

Brain Foods

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Food Intake and the Menstrual Cycle

Numerous scientific studies have shown that the menstrual cycle influences food intake. Healthy women consume 90-500 kcal/day more during the luteal phase than during the follicular phase. Studies have also shown small luteal phase increases in carbohydrate, protein, and fat intakes. Vitamin C consumption has been reported to be lower during ovulation than during the luteal and menses phases,16 and intakes of vitamin D, riboflavin, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium have been reported to be highest during the luteal phase.

The few reports of menstrual cycle effects on food intake in women with PMS are similar to the results shown in healthy women: energy, protein, fat, and carbohydrate consumption have been shown to increase premenstrually in women with PMS.

The causes of the premenstrual increase in food intake are unknown. Hormonal or neurochemical changes may alter food intake directly, or indirectly by increasing energy expenditure. They may also be due to increased energy expenditure during the luteal phase. Although some early studies showed no change in basal metabolic rate (BMR) across the menstrual cycle, two studies from the 1920s and more recent studies have shown a luteal phase increase in BMR, although insufficient to account for the increased energy intake. Other recent studies have shown increases in sleeping metabolic rate, thermic effect of food, and 24-hour energy expenditure.36 The likely cause of the increased energy expenditure during the luteal phase is the high level of progesterone, known to stimulate body heat production.

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