Many women will agree that they not only feel emotionally crabby or irritable during their period but also feel bloated. A common concern is that you might actually be gaining real weight during your period as well. This can be especially worrisome to women who are trying to lose weight already.
The truth is, yes, you can experience weight gain that is some way related to your menstrual cycle but this occurs before your period comes as well as during it. The follicular stage is specifically the time in which women feel bloated and might notice they weigh a bit more than normal. This stage occurs about a week to a week in a half before your period actually begins. A gain due to water weight and bloating is normal and will usually dissipate once your period starts.
What Causes Weight Gain?
The hormones in the body are responsible for the weight gain the week or so before a woman’s period. Estrogen is extremely active during the follicular stage and women naturally gain weight as their bodies prepare for fertilization. This is important if you are trying for a baby, not so helpful when you aren’t.
The main reasons why you gain weight during your period includes:
- Water Retention
- Skipping Exercise
- Indulging Your Cravings and Overeating – This is the one that causes weight gain that will last after your period has ended.
- Low Insulin Levels
How Much is Normal Weight Gain?
According to doctors, normal weight gain due to an upcoming period can be anywhere from half a pound up to 10lbs depending on the woman. The average woman will only gain a few pounds but if you gain more, don’t worry. You can take steps to reducing weight gain by changing your diet or lifestyle. Illness and medical issues can also impact how much weight you gain or how your menstrual cycle will affect you health and weight.
How to Reduce Weight Gain
While it can be impossible to totally prevent any weight gain during your cycle, you can tweak areas of your life to reduce what weight you might gain. Here are a few dietary or lifestyle changes you can use to reduce water weight and bloating.
- Drink plenty of liquids! It seems counterintuitive to drink more water to prevent water weight but it is true. Pure water is the ideal beverage but if you find you need some flavor look into coconut water, vitamin water or sparkling fruit waters.
- Avoid sodas and other sugary drinks. It doesn’t need to be explained that soda is bad for you. Even diet soda is an unhealthy option and can increase weight gain. Don’t forget that commercial juices are often extremely high in sugar so even though they seem healthy, they can still increase weight gain and raise your blood sugar much like a candy would. If you’re going to drink juice, make your own with a juicer at home. Avoid drinks with artificial sweeteners.
- Limit your sodium intake. Salty foods and beverages are going to increase water weight retention so it is a good idea to reduce how much you consume before your period, even if your body is strongly craving them.
- Take a calcium or vitamin D supplement. Getting some extra calcium will help your body gain less weight and also drop the weight more quickly. This is especially important for women who don’t consume a lot of meat or those who are vegetarian or vegan.
- Take a magnesium supplement. Low insulin levels are common before your period since your magnesium stores are low. Taking a magnesium supplement can really help reduce water retention and curb overeating.
- Keep up your exercise regimen. You might feel less motivated to work out the week or so prior to your period but it’s important you do anyways. You may feel more comfortable avoiding abdominal exercises close to your period however.
Does Period Weight Gain Last?
Worrying about whether the extra weight is permanent is completely understandable but a difficult question to answer. If you’ve been eating healthy and have avoided binging on junk when you have cravings then your water weight will disappear during and/or after your period. Weight gain solely from your body during your cycle is not permanent. However, if you’ve been indulging your cravings often and have become lax on your exercise regimen then your weight gain isn’t going to drop on its own.
When You Don’t Lose the Water Weight
If your period has come and gone but you’re still a few pounds over your usual weight than you will need to take action. First and foremost, you should make sure you are drinking plenty of water to rehydrate your bod. You also should try and change your diet to include healthy vegetables, fruits and lean meats while limiting salty foods. Generally losing the “leftover” weight from your period isn’t difficult since it’s typically more water weight than actual fat.
Feeling a little bloated and gaining a couple extra pounds is nothing to worry about. It is a completely natural part of your menstrual cycle and if you maintain a healthy diet you don’t need to worry about it being permanent.