The Menstrual cycle. It’s just full of wonders, isn’t it? There’s the pain, the bleeding, the emotional rollercoaster… And then there’s the constant need for ice cream. If you’re now, or have ever, experienced periods, you’ve probably noticed something slightly off with your appetite each month. Those two or three days where, no matter how hard you try, you’re hungry 24 hours a day. And nothing stops it. Gang, this is the upside-down world of hormones and sugar cravings.
Leptin? What the what?
Now, Leptin is one of our less well-known hormones, so you’d be forgiven for never having heard of it before today. It does, though, seem to serve a pretty vital function, at least as far as we can tell. And that function is deciding how much you eat. No, it’s not your stomach, or your eyes, as you may previously have been led to believe.
Apparently, Leptin essentially tells you when you’ve eaten enough. High levels mean a regular, smaller appetite, and low levels can lead to increased appetite. Those levels, however, can fluctuate depending on a number of factors, including sleep quality, general fitness and wellness, and weight.
But there’s a kicker. Leptin isn’t produced by your stomach or some gland you’ve never heard of. This incredibly important hormone actually comes from fat cells. We know, it’s crazy. But it gets crazier. Because this hormone is also an active ingredient in our reproductive process. How? It’s a good question, and no one’s really nailed the answer yet, so here’s what we do know: a low leptin level doesn’t just lead to an increased appetite, it also means it takes much longer for you to feel full.
Hormones and sugar cravings: It’s Leptin
And when are your Leptin levels decreasing? You’re probably way ahead of us here, but it’s right around the time you release an egg into your fallopian tube, on its way to your uterus. Or Ovulation, if you’re into the whole brevity thing. Yup, you’re hormonally programmed to eat more three days a month. And that’s exactly what happens, right?
Add this to the other hormonal upheaval happening concurrently — PMS basically starts while your Leptin levels are low — and you’re hardly to blame for throwing back that carton of Phish Food so fast it looks like you haven’t eaten for a week.
So, why exactly, does Leptin feel the need to decrease in such a dramatic fashion for a few days every month? Current wisdom says the extra food intake is to prepare your body for the enormous energy expenditure that is growing a new human being. Which also explains why your appetite likely decreases a few days later if the egg is unfertilized.
How to beat hormone-related sugar cravings
All of which begs the question: how best to combat the results of hormones and sugar cravings? Well, sleep is, as always, super important. As is a generally healthy lifestyle and diet. And that goes double if we’re overweight, as our bodies can become Leptin resistant. Yup, for some reason, more fat cells mean it stops having the same effect somehow — so those three days of constant hunger can become every day.
And, as we’re often heard to say ‘twixt these pages, tracking your hormones and cycle is crucial. It can help you prepare for those low Leptin days — mostly by padlocking the freezer and candy cupboard in good time. But more importantly, knowledge is power, and just knowing why you’re suddenly hungry all the time can maybe lift one of those weights you’re carrying. And that’s never a bad thing. So get yourself on the Hormona app and start tracking!
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