Does your cycle influence your post-exercise hunger hormones?

Did you know that endurance exercise can suppress appetite? This is why you and many other athletes may not have wanted to eat a huge meal post training. This can happen because the act of exercise can temporarily affect gut hormone concentrations that then change the way your hypothalamus responds to hunger and satiety cues. Regardless, we still recommend that our clients consume some carbs and protein post workout to help restore glycogen stores and start the muscle repair process!

Most of the studies that have demonstrated this phenomenon were conducted on male athletes, however, so how might a menstruating athlete’s fluctuating hormones affect post-exercise hunger hormones?

In this 2022 study, 10 menstruating individuals completed two exercise sessions. One session was conducted during their luteal phase, and the second session during the follicular phase. Each session included 60 minutes of cycling followed by 90 minutes of rest. After rest, the individuals were given 30 minutes to consume a meal.

For each individual, blood samples were taken to measure the concentrations of various hormones including estradiol, progesterone, leptin, and other appetite-regulating hormones. Researchers also surveyed for subjective measures of appetite before, during, and post exercise.

From this study, researchers found that during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, estradiol and progesterone levels increased during and immediately post exercise. This endurance exercise did NOT, however, affect the measured appetite-regulating hormones in the participants, nor the number of calories they consumed in the post-exercise meal.

So, from this single study, fluctuating estradiol and progesterone levels from different phases of the menstrual cycle don’t appear to influence hunger hormones!

That being said, we still highly recommend always having some sort of post-workout snack available if you’re not craving a full meal. Here are some of our go-to options!


Kamemoto, K., Yamada, M., Matsuda, T., Ogata, H., Ishikawa, A., Kanno, M., Miyashita, M., & Sakamaki-Sunaga, M. (2022). Effects of menstrual cycle on appetite-regulating hormones and energy intake in response to cycling exercise in physically active women. Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985)132(1), 224–235.

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