Estradiol, SHBG and leptin interplay with food craving and intake across the menstrual cycle

Physiol Behav. 2016 Oct 15:165:304-12. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.08.010. Epub 2016 Aug 12.


Objective: To understand the association between ovarian hormones, non-acute satiety hormones and craving calorie dense foods in the luteal phase.

Methods: 17 premenopausal women, mean age 23.2 y, mean BMI 22.4kg/m(2) with regular menstrual cycles were studied during late follicular (FP) and luteal phases (LP). Estradiol, progesterone, DHEAS, SHBG, insulin and leptin, were measured in fasting samples. The validated Food Craving Inventory was used to record the types of foods volunteers habitually ate - rich in fat, carbohydrate or sweet taste, as well as craved during the LP of their menstrual cycle.

Results: Estradiol was inversely associated with leptin in FP (r=-0.62, p=0.01). Leptin was inversely associated with habitual intake of sweet foods, in both phases (FP: r=-0.64, p=0.01; LP: r=-0.63, p=0.01). SHBG in LP was positively associated with craving sweet and carbohydrate rich foods. Hierarchical cluster analysis revealed two groups of women, one with high estradiol, high estradiol/leptin ratio, high sweet and carbohydrate cravings (p<0.05); the other group had lower estradiol, lower estradiol/leptin ratio, and reported less craving.

Conclusions: The estradiol-leptin axis may be a determinant of luteal phase craving and habitual food intake in menstruating women.

Clinical trial registration number: NCT01407692.

Keywords: Craving; Estradiol; Food intake; Leptin; Sex hormones.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Composition
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Craving*
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Estradiol / metabolism*
  • Fasting / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leptin / metabolism*
  • Menstrual Cycle / physiology*
  • Menstrual Cycle / psychology
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / metabolism*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Leptin
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • Estradiol
  • Cholesterol

Associated data