You’ve got 3 weeks under your belt of training hard and eating clean, you’re reaching your goals and feeling amazing. And then it hits… that time of the month. Your moods are affected, you crave salty, sugary and fatty foods, feel bloated and if you don’t have a super strong level of self control, that healthy routine just seems to go out the window. Sound familiar?
Why? During menses, your body will experience a drop in both oestrogen and progesterone hormones, which affects brain chemistry; dopamine, serotonin, GABA and other brain chemicals. This can cause you to crave salty, sugary and/or fatty foods – or more so the emotional highs associated with eating these foods that your body knows will make it feel good again. It can also affect moods that occur around menses like wanting to cry, being overly emotional etc. However, as most of us are aware, eating too much salt, sugar or fatty foods can be a huge step backward when trying to reach your health fitness goals!
GABA: A calming or “peacemaking” chemical in the brain, GABA induces relaxation, increases focus, reduces stress and anxiety.
DOPAMINE is the chemical that mediates pleasure in the brain. It is released during pleasurable situations and stimulates one to seek out pleasurable activity.
SEROTONIN is a chemical that helps maintain a “happy” feeling, and seems to help keep our moods under control by helping with sleep, calming anxiety, and relieving depression.
So here’s some good news for you… there is another way you can “trick” your body into rebalancing your brain and not only help control moods, but also stave off cravings for unhealthy foods (that will only be a short-term fix and will leave you feeling worse off later on):
Mix a teaspoon of 100% cocoa powder in a mug of hot water (I also add a dash of milk to sweeten it a little, as the taste can be quite strong if you’re not used to it!) … and drink it!
Cocoa contains serotonin and phenethylamine, which acts as a releasing agent of dopamine. Plus pure 100% cocoa has no sugar or fat! Don’t be mistaken in thinking chocolate is the same… Yes, it contains cocoa, but generally has too much sugar and fat to be beneficial – Most milk chocolate is only about 30% cocoa, and even some of the stronger dark chocolates can be up to 30% sugar!
100% cocoa may not taste as amazing, but will help ensure your training results are amazing! I have been using this tip for over a year now – It seriously works!