A weight-loss program adapted to the menstrual cycle increases weight loss in healthy, overweight, premenopausal women: a 6-mo randomized controlled trial

Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Jul;104(1):15-20. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.126565. Epub 2016 Jun 8.


Background: Hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle influence energy intake and expenditure as well as eating preferences and behavior.

Objective: We examined the effect in healthy, overweight, premenopausal women of a diet and exercise weight-loss program that was designed to target and moderate the effects of the menstrual cycle compared with the effect of simple energy restriction.

Design: A total of 60 healthy, overweight, premenopausal women were included in a 6-mo weight-loss program in which each subject consumed a diet of 1600 kcal/d. Subjects were randomly assigned to either a combined diet and exercise program that was tailored to metabolic changes of the menstrual cycle (Menstralean) or to undergo simple energy restriction (control).

Results: Thirty-one women (19 Menstralean and 12 control women) completed the study [mean ± SD body mass index (in kg/m(2)): 32.0 ± 5.2]. Both groups lost weight during the study. In an intention-to-treat analysis, the Menstralean group did not achieve a clinically significant weight loss compared with that of the control group (P = 0.61). In per-protocol analyses, a more-pronounced weight loss of 4.3 ± 1.4 kg (P = 0.002) was shown in adherent Menstralean subjects than in the control group.

Conclusion: A differentiated diet and exercise program that is tailored to counteract food cravings and metabolic changes throughout the menstrual cycle may increase weight loss above that achieved with a traditional diet and exercise program in women who can comply with the program. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01622114.

Keywords: energy expenditure; energy restriction; hormonal fluctuations; menstrual cycle; obesity; satiation; weight loss.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Caloric Restriction*
  • Craving / physiology
  • Diet, Reducing
  • Energy Intake*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Hormones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Menstrual Cycle / physiology*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Overweight
  • Premenopause
  • Weight Loss / physiology*
  • Weight Reduction Programs*
  • Young Adult


  • Hormones

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01622114