Do women burn more calories when on their period?
The short answer is yes, some women might burn more calories during their period, but it’s not a massive difference for everyone.
Remember, the menstrual cycle affects everyone differently, so while some might experience a slight calorie burn boost, others might not notice much of a difference.
Why do women burn more calories when on their period?
During menstruation, your body undergoes various physiological changes, affecting your metabolism and energy levels (1). In the following section, we will discuss in detail how these changes within the body can affect calorie expenditure.
6 reasons why you burn more calories when on your period
Now that we have established that it is possible for women to burn a few extra calories when menstruating, it is time for a deep dive into the physiological reasons behind this process.
Below you can find the main reasons why you might burn more energy when on your period.
• Hormonal Fluctuations: The menstrual cycle involves hormonal shifts, particularly an increase in progesterone levels. This can cause a slight rise in body temperature, leading to an increased calorie burn as your body works to regulate its temperature (2).
• Muscle Contractions: Menstrual cramps and discomfort are common due to uterine muscle contractions. These contractions, while not as intense as a full workout, still require energy and can contribute to a boost in calorie expenditure (3).
• Increased Activity Levels: Some women might feel more energized during their period, leading to higher activity levels. Whether it’s consciously hitting the gym or just being more active in daily tasks, moving more naturally burns more calories.
• Stress Response: The hormonal changes and discomfort during menstruation can trigger a stress response in the body. This response can increase both heart and metabolic rate, and even lead to a temporary boost in calorie burning (4).
• Metabolism Variability: Some studies suggest that metabolism and metabolic rate can fluctuate during the menstrual cycle. While the changes are subtle, they can lead to a small increment in calorie burn (5).
• Digestive Changes: Hormonal shifts can influence digestion, and while this effect is relatively minor, it can contribute to a slight increase in calorie burn (6).
It’s important to keep in mind that the calorie burn associated with these processes is generally modest, and while it might mean a few extra calories burned, it’s not a drastic increase. It’s also worth noting that not all women experience these effects to the same extent as everyone’s body reacts differently to hormonal changes.
Women can burn more calories during their periods due to changes in metabolic and hormonal processes, which lead to an increase in calorie expenditure as the body requires extra energy to regulate itself and perform all the additional tasks involved in menstruation. The boost in metabolic rate is rather minimal, yet, it can still have a great impact on hunger and energy levels in menstruating women.
Bisdee JT, James WP, Shaw MA. Changes in energy expenditure during the menstrual cycle. British Journal of Nutrition. 1989 Mar;61(2):187-99.
Webb P. 24-hour energy expenditure and the menstrual cycle. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 1986 Nov 1;44(5):614-9.
Kunz G, Leyendecker G. Uterine peristaltic activity during the menstrual cycle: characterization, regulation, function and dysfunction. Reproductive biomedicine online. 2002 Jan 1;4:5-9.
Ossewaarde L, Hermans EJ, van Wingen GA, Kooijman SC, Johansson IM, Bäckström T, Fernández G. Neural mechanisms underlying changes in stress-sensitivity across the menstrual cycle. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2010 Jan 1;35(1):47-55.
Solomon SJ, Kurzer MS, Calloway DH. Menstrual cycle and basal metabolic rate in women. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 1982 Oct 1;36(4):611-6.
Gill RC, Murphy PD, Hooper HR, Bowes KL, Kingma YJ. Effect of the menstrual cycle on gastric emptying. Digestion. 1987 Jan 29;36(3):168-74.