If you’re a regular Hormona, you’ll know we love to arm you with the knowledge and power to feel your best. Which means you’re likely aware that your menstrual hormones affect more than just your periods. But did you know that your hormones also affect weight loss? Yup, even the way you burn fat doesn’t escape. Here’s everything you need to know.
What does “burning fat” actually mean?
So what’s actually happening when your body burns fat? Burning fat is just one of the ways your body uses the energy from food as fuel. We evolved to be able to store fat in neat little packages that we can call upon in times of need — like when we’re sprinting away from a saber tooth tiger. Ugh. Hate when that happens.
The process goes a little something like this:
- Fuel from food is stored as fatty acids — those little packages we mentioned.
- When we need to use energy, those fatty acids are released into the bloodstream. From there, they are broken down by your muscles and organs, ready to be used.
- Once the body uses up the fatty acid, the fat cell dies and the body absorbs it — and that’s how you burn fat!
Sounds simple, right? Maybe not…
How do hormones affect weight loss?
There are a few ways your Menstrual cycle can change how your body burns fat. But if you’re living with a hormone imbalance there’s a good chance your metabolism works slightly differently. And that means the way you use energy will be different as well. It’s never simple, is it?
The Follicular phase
During the Follicular phase of your cycle, rising Estrogen has a lot of surprisingly positive effects on your energy and mood. And that can influence how much fat you’re burning through.
- Higher energy levels generally mean you’re active and feel able to do more intense forms of exercise.
- Your recovery time after a gym session will likely be shorter.
- You’re less likely to crave sugary treats.
All of the above factors make it easier for you to get moving, and consume the right amount of energy for your body. More exercise typically means more fat burnt, so you may well find that you lose a little weight. And eating a balanced diet means the fat stored by your body will be in proportion to the amount you use. It’s the body fat Goldilocks zone — not too little, not too much!
The Luteal phase
During the Luteal phase, climbing Progesterone levels can mean more fatigue, mood swings, and a ton of cravings. Here’s the Luteal phase lowdown:
Your body actually burns more fat at rest during this time. Amazing, right? But it’s also harder for your body to access sugar. And that means:
- Exercise will feel harder
- Recovery times will be longer
Which is not so amazing, and why you often don’t feel like exercising at this time of the month. And it gets better. During the Luteal phase, you might also notice:
- Cravings are kicking in.
- You get overheated faster.
- Your resting heart rate is higher.
- You feel more fatigued.
And here lies the contradiction. Because making the most of that increased fat burn during the Luteal phase with a long hike or high-intensity workout probably isn’t on the cards. So you might find that your weight increases a little during this stage.
Hormones and weight loss: It’s a ride
Basically, your body knows best. And regulating the way you use energy and burn fat throughout different stages of your cycle is all part of making sure your Menstrual cycle goes smoothly. Which means that small weight fluctuations during the months can be a side effect of having periods.
Of course, if you’re concerned about sudden weight loss or gain, or feel like things just aren’t working how they should be, please talk to a healthcare professional. Seriously.
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