Skip to main content Accessibility help

Changes in nutrient intake during the menstrual cycle of overweight women with premenstrual syndrome

  • Giordana B. Cross (a1), John Marley (a1), Helen Miles (a1) and Kristyn Willson (a1)


This study presents the nutrient data collected from women who were being screened for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) for entry into an intervention study. Screening was by the Steiner self-rated questionnaire. One hundred and forty-four overweight women completed the screening process and eighty-eight met the criteria for PMS. All women kept 4 d diet diaries pre- and postmenstrually over two menstrual cycles. The mean energy and macronutrient intakes were compared between the pre- and postmenstrual phases. Energy and macronutrient intake was also calculated according to food categories. Goldberg's cut-off limit for the ratio of energy intake to estimated basal metabolic rate was used to exclude data that was incompatible with predicted energy requirements. The diet diaries were also used to determine the mean number of meals or snacks eaten pre- and postmenstrually. Nutrient analysis of the diet diaries of the women with PMS showed a significant increase (P<0.001) in total energy and all macronutrients premenstrually when compared to nutrient intake postmenstrually. Women who did not meet the criteria for PMS showed a significant increase in energy and fat intake (P<0.05) but not in the other macronutrients. When adjusted for energy, data collected from women with PMS showed a premenstrual significant increase in fat, carbohydrate (P<0.05) and simple sugars (P<0.001). There was a significant decrease (P<0.001) in protein premenstrually. Women not meeting the PMS criteria showed no significant difference between pre- and postmenstrual intakes when adjusted for energy. Analysis according to food categories in women with PMS showed a significantly greater intake premenstrually of energy and all macronutrients for cereals, cakes and desserts and high-sugar foods (P<0.001). In women with PMS there was a significantly greater number of ‘episodes of eating’ premenstrually (P<0.001). This study provides further evidence, to support the very limited number of earlier studies, that there is a group of women with PMS who increase their nutrient intake during the premenstrual phase. This could potentially be a contributing factor for some women experiencing difficulties adhering to suggested dietary modification and should be considered when counselling premenopausal women.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Giordana B. Cross, fax + 61 08 8204 7778, email


Hide All
American Psychiatric Association (1994) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
Barr, SI, Janelle, KC & Prior, JC (1995) Energy intakes are higher during the luteal phase of ovulatory menstrual cycles. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 61, 3943.
Basiotis, PP (1987) Number of days of food intake records required to estimate individual and group nutrient intakes with defined confidence. Journal of Nutrition 117, 11381141.
Blum, I, Nessiel, L, Graff, E, Harsat, A, Gabbay, U, Sulkes, J, Raz, O & Vered, Y (1993) Food preferences, body weight, and platelet-poor plasma serotonin and catecholamines. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 57, 486489.
Both-Orthman, B, Rubinow, DR, Hoban, MC, Malley, J & Grover, GN (1988) Menstrual cycle phase-related changes in appetite in patients with premenstrual syndrome and in control subjects. American Journal of Psychiatry 145, 628631.
Dalton, K (1960) Menstruation and accidents. British Medical Journal 2, 1425.
Dalvit-McPhillips, S (1983) The effect of the human menstrual cycle on nutrient intake. Physiology and Behaviour 31, 209212.
Dye, L & Blundell, JE (1997) Menstrual cycle and appetite control: implications for weight regulation. Human Reproduction 12, 11421151.
Goldberg, GR, Black, AE, Jebb, SA, Cole, TJ, Murgatroyd, PR, Coward, WA & Prentice, AM (1991) Critical evaluation of energy intake data using fundamental principals of energy physiology 1. Derivation of cut-off limits to identify under-recording. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 45, 569581.
Gong, EJ, Garrel, D & Calloway, DH (1989) Menstrual cycle and voluntary food intake. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 49, 252258.
Hill, AJ & Heaton-Brown, L (1994) The experience of food craving: a prospective investigation in healthy women. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 38, 804814.
Hunt, SM, McKenna, SP, McEwen, J, Williams, J & Papp, E (1981) The Nottingham health profile: Subjective health status and medical consultations. Social Science and Medicine 15A, 221229.
Johnson, WG, Carr-Nangle, RE & Bergeron, KC (1995) Macronutrient intake, eating habits and exercise as moderators of menstrual distress in healthy women. Psychosomatic Medicine 57, 324330.
Lieberman, HR, Wurtman, JJ & Chew, B (1986) Changes in mood after carbohydrate consumption among obese individuals. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 44, 772778.
Lissner, L, Stevens, J, Levitsky, DA, Rasmussen, KM & Strupp, BJ (1988) Variation in energy intake during the menstrual cycle: implications for food-intake research. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 48, 956962.
Magarey, A & Boulton, J (1995) The Adelaide nutrition study. 3. Food sources at ages 11, 13 and 15 years. Australian Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics 52, 124130.
Manocha, S, Choudhuri, G & Tandon, BN (1986) A Study of the dietary intake in pre and post-menstrual period. Human Nutrition: Applied Nutrition 40A, 213216.
Martini, MC, Lampe, JW, Slavin, JL & Kurzer, MS (1994) Effect of the menstrual cycle on energy and nutrient intake. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 60, 895899.
Potoska, AL, Block, G & Hartman, AM (1990) The apparent validity of diet questionnaires is influenced by number of diet record days used for comparison. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 90, 810813.
Rapkin, AJ, Edelmuth, E, Chang, LC, Reading, AE, McGuire, MT & Su, TP (1987) Whole blood serotonin in premenstrual syndrome. Obstetrics and Gynaecology 70, 533537.
Reid, R (1986) Pre menstrual Syndrome; the time for introspection. Medical Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 155, 921.
Rosenthal, NE, Genhart, MJ, Caballero, B, Jacobsen, FM, Skwerer, RG, Coursey, RD, Rogers, S & Spring, BJ (1989) Psychobiological effects of carbohydrate and protein rich meals in patients with seasonal affective disorder and normal controls. Biological Psychiatry 25, 10291040.
Steinberg, S, Lawrence, A, Young, SN & Belanger, MC (1994) Tryptophan in the treatment of late luteal phase dysphoric disorder: a pilot study. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience 19, 114119.
Steiner, M, Haskett, F & Carroll, BJ (1980) Premenstrual tension syndrome: The development of research diagnostic criteria and new rating scales. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 62, 177190.
Tarasuk, V & Beaton, GH (1991) Menstrual-cycle patterns in energy and macronutrient intake. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 53, 442447.
Weingarten, HP & Elston, D (1991) Food cravings in a college population. Appetite 17, 167175.
Wurtman, JJ, Brzezinski, A, Wurtman, RJ & Laferrere, B (1989) Effect of nutrient intake on premenstrual depression. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 161, 1228-1234.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

British Journal of Nutrition
  • ISSN: 0007-1145
  • EISSN: 1475-2662
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed