Many women suffer from a wide variety of symptoms when they are on their period, including cramping, bloating, feeling irritable, headaches and more. One of the most bothersome problems for many women is the feeling of gaining weight when they are on their period. But do women really gain weight during their period, or do the changes in their body simply make them feel as though they are somehow “bigger” than they were a few days before?
Do You Gain Weight on Your Period?
The fact is that yes, women do gain weight during their periods. It might be as little as a pound or two, and some women might not even notice a weight gain so small. But for others, the weight gain could be up to ten pounds. That’s enough to cause problems with tight-fitting clothing and make a woman feel as though her body is no longer her own! Worst of all, dieting doesn’t help.
Most women gain between three and five pounds during the days before their period and during the first few days after the period begins. Some women notice that their clothes don’t quite fit as well, or they might feel more sluggish and heavy than usual. Some women will even have “period jeans” and their regular jeans – and the period jeans are a size bigger! The good news is that this weight does go away, usually right after the period is over.
Why Do You Gain Weight on Your Period?
There are actually several reasons why you gain weight during your period, but they all come back to symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome. The following reasons can contribute to the weight gain:
- Water Retention. During the hormonal changes associated with your period, your body might want to keep more water in the cells. This means that you will retain water, and that can weigh a lot! In fact, it can add several pounds to your body.
- Bloating or Gas. Bloating is common with the beginning of your period. It can sometimes be painful, including cramps and even an upset stomach. This bloating can make you feel as though inches have been added to your waist.
- Binge Eating. When you start your period, you are often hungrier than usual. You might also find yourself drawn to comfort foods or comfort eating. These cravings are triggered by the changes in hormone levels. That means you might eat more than you usually do, and that can lead to a slight weight gain over a period of a few days.
- Low Magnesium Levels. Before your period, your magnesium levels drop. When that happens, so does your insulin production. That leads to hunger, and that leads to eating more than you should. The result is that you are gaining a little bit of weight during those days.
- Lack of Exercises. Women often avoid exercise during the menstrual cycle. They might be too tired, or they might not want to deal with the inconvenience of heavy exercise when they are menstruating. This inactivity can help lead to weight gain, especially when combined with eating more.
How Can You Reduce Weight Gain on Your Period?
The good news is that the weight you gain during your period will often vanish just as quickly as it appeared. Treating weight gain during your period can be as simple as a few lifestyle changes.
- Healthy Meals. You might be hungrier than usual, but it is important to stick with your usual eating habits. Look for healthy foods with plenty of carbohydrates and lean protein, as well as fiber. Eat at regular intervals, and it is always best to eat several small meals than a few big ones. Avoid foods made with refined sugars – no matter how much you crave them!
- Cut Down High Sodium Foods. The more sodium you have in your body, the more water your body will try to retain. Things like salt, soy sauce and other salts or seasonings should be avoided during your period. Pay attention to processed foods, too – they have plenty of sodium, and should be avoided if you can.
- Drink Water Instead of Soda. Remember that sodas have high levels of sodium and carbonation, both of which can make you retain water. Drink more water instead of soda, and the water will pass through you instead of being held back in your cells.
- Avoid Eating Too Much Chocolate. Though pigging out on chocolate is tempting during your period, this delectable treat can quickly lead to weight gain. Try something with a chocolate flavor instead, like a low-fat frozen yogurt.
- Eat Gas-reducing Foods. Bananas, pineapple, peppermint tea and even yogurt can battle gas, and that means you gain less weight. Add plenty of these to your diet around the time of your menstrual period.
- Try Warm Water with Lime Juice. Some experts believe that drinking warm water mixed with lime juice can help reduce the water you carry, especially if you drink it during the morning hours. Just remember not to add any salt!
- Get More Calcium. A sufficient calcium intake can help prevent water retention. If you are already holding in water, more calcium can help reduce it faster. If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, it is especially important to up your calcium intake right before your period.
- Do Proper Exercises. Regular exercise can work wonders to reduce gas and bloating, improve your mood and even help stop cramps. Exercise for at least thirty minutes a day, three to four times per week, especially during your period. As an added bonus, the exercise will make you feel as though you battling the weight gain, and that can boost your confidence.