Is There An Ideal Time For a Woman to Start a Weight Loss Program?

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Many of us are looking to lose a few pounds in the new year, especially after all the indulgences we ate during the holidays! As we set goals for this new year, most are looking to start fresh with a major weight loss goal, or burn the last few pounds that we can’t seem to lose. For us to be successful in our individual weight loss journeys, it is important to create an environment that brings about the most success. 

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As a female, our weight can fluctuate approximately 3-5lbs every month due to hormone fluctuations from our menstrual cycle. Many women also suffer from premenstrual syndrome showing signs of fatigue, abdominal cramping, bloating, and food cravings; all less than ideal symptoms to suffer from when trying to lose weight. So is there an ideal time for a woman to start a weight loss program? 

There are two major cycles during menstruation that include the follicular phase and luteal phase. In a normal 28-day cycle, most women have their period for 2-7 days during a 14 day follicular phase, followed by ovulation and a 14 day luteal phase.

Menstrual Cycle

 During the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, research has shown an increase in energy intake and energy expenditure. It is hypothesized that we experience more frequent food cravings to satisfy this increased energy need.  The increase in food cravings, more specifically, seem to be foods high in carbohydrates and fat. Why is this? The predominant hormone secreted during the luteal phase is progesterone, a hormone that has been shown to promote fat storage with potentially simultaneous desires of foods rich in fat. On average females may increase the energy expenditure, or calories burned throughout the day, by 89-279 calories. This increase in energy expenditure creates a stimulating effect on the metabolism. At first glance you might think this is a great time to start losing weight. However, according to research the food cravings outweighed the energy expenditure resulting in less than favorable weight loss results. On average women consume 90-500 calories per day more during the luteal phase.

Another reason why the luteal phase is a less than ideal time for us to start a weight loss program includes a decreased amino acid and increased nitrogen utilization when progesterone is high. This results in increased protein consumption leading to an anabolic or recovery & muscle building state. It would be more advantageous for females to utilize this anabolic state during the luteal phase to start an exercise program that included body weight and strength training exercises. Starting a weight loss program during this time would be like trying to break down a tent while your partner is trying to build the same tent!

During the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle we have lower energy requirements. Estrogen hormone levels are high midway through this phase into ovulation. It has been hypothesized that estrogen reduces appetite and calorie intake. Estradiol, a type of estrogen, has been shown in the research to be involved in the neural control of eating; thereby reducing the amount of food you eat in a single meal. It is recommended that females start their diet, which includes a calorie deficit and exercise, around day 5-11 of their follicular phase. This typically falls around the end of your menstrual cycle. Starting during a time when food cravings appear to be less intense make it easier to adapt to the calorie restriction thus establishing a good basis for adherence to the lifestyle change. 

InBody Analyzer

 Research suggests that the ideal time for you to start your weight loss program should be towards the end of your menstrual cycle. The Doctors at Back to Function can provide you with all the tools necessary to achieve your weight loss & wellness goals. Starting an exercise program can be daunting, but we are here to provide one-on-one training in fitness, reformer Pilates, and fun Saturday group circuit classes. Utilizing the InBody Analyzer, we can measure your body fat percentage, lean body mass and water weight using bioelectrical impedance, allowing us to determine your specific daily caloric needs. We can also provide a 14-day detox that will help kick-start your weight loss goals by providing meal replacement shakes and healthy meal and snack options to stay within your recommended daily caloric intake. For more information or to set up an appointment to start your weight loss journey, give us a call at 310-534-1900 or email me at


Davidsen, L., Vistisen, B., Astrup, A. (2007). Impact of the menstrual cycle on determinants of energy balance: a putative role in weight loss attempts. International Journal of Obesity. 1777-1785.

Draper, C., Duisters, K., Weger, B., Chakrabarti, A., Harms, A., Brennan, L. et al. (2018). Menstrual cycle rhythmicity: metabolic patterns in healthy women. Scientific Reports. 1-15.

Rebuffe-Scrive, M., Enk, L., Crona, N., Lonnroth, P., Abrahamasson, L., Smith, U., Bjorntorp, P. (1985).  Fat cell metabolism in different regions in women. Journal of Clinical Investigation. 1973-1976.

Dr. Shelby Kloiber
About Dr. Shelby Kloiber

Dr. Shelby Kloiber is a Master's of Science, Exercise Physiology 2011 graduate from Texas Tech University. In 2009 she became a certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise and in 2014 became a Certified Exercise Physiologist with the American College of Sports Medicine. She was faculty at Texas Tech University in the Health, Exercise & Sport Sciences department until she entered the Doctor of Chiropractic program at Southern California University of Health Sciences. She currently practices in Fort Worth Texas.