You might have noticed that your weight creeps up during that time of the month. Whether you weigh yourself or not, you might notice some weight changes. You may discover you have added numerous pounds and end up wondering whether such tremendous weight gain is normal. So, what is considered the safe haven? Keep reading to find out!
Is Weight Gain During Period Normal?
During your period, you tend to experience many body changes. Some are physical, others behavioral, or emotional. Most people are familiar with the mood changes, as many women are reported to have mood swings during that time of the month.
Some report an increase in their weight, and since this is not talked about enough, they question the weight gain. No matter what you may believe, weight gain is normal during your period.
It is one of the signs and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The other common PMS symptoms that most people are familiar with includes mood swings, changes in appetite, bloating, headaches, irritability, or increased fatigue (5).
What Is The Average Weight Gain During Your Period?
We can all agree that weight is one of the most sensitive subjects in a woman’s life. That said, it is not a surprise that any slight weight change will never go unnoticed. Some tend to weigh more while having their period.
This may explain why some are on a quest to find out the average amount of weight gain during the period. However, before we look at the average weight gain before and during the period, let us first understand the causes of the weight fluctuation.
As mentioned above, there is nothing to worry about because it is normal. But what causes the weight gain? Here are the most common reasons behind your weight gain when on your period:
Water retention is one of the main reasons behind your weight gain during that time of the month. According to WebMD, your body tends to hold on to so much water during your period because of several reasons. Some of these include (6):
Many women crave salty and spicy foods during their period. Unfortunately, a lot of women consume more than the recommended salt amount from such foods, making their bodies retain water (6). These foods include chips, lunch meats, canned veggies, crackers, fast food, and some soft drinks (6). To help regulate your salt levels, food experts advise you to balance these foods by taking foods rich in potassium like bananas and spinach (6).
As mentioned earlier, one of the most common PMS symptoms is increased fatigue or tiredness. Those who experience this spend most of their time either sitting or lying in bed. Sadly, excessive sitting causes your tissues to hold water, which results in water weight (6). No matter how lazy or tired you feel, you are urged to try and move around to keep blood circulating and help fight water retention.
The other culprit of water retention during your period is hormonal changes. Your hormones tend to fluctuate, which may result in bloating. Similarly, if you use birth control pills to regulate your flow, you may also retain water (6).
You could be taking medications during your period that, unfortunately, make your body hold water. Some of these medications include antidepressants, pain relievers like ibuprofen, or medications for high blood pressure (6).
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There are several things experts suggest you do to prevent weight gain caused by water retention. One of them is consuming a low-salt diet. As mentioned earlier, you can balance this with potassium-rich foods.
Another suggestion, you can elevate your feet, especially if you spend most time sitting due to increased fatigue and menstrual pain. Make sure you raise them above the level of your heart severally to avoid fluid retention in your ankles and feet (6).
Experts also suggest you wear compression stockings, especially if you notice swelling in your lower legs and feet. These are very effective in squeezing the lower legs, which helps with blood circulation (6).
Reduced Physical Activity
The last thing most women on their period want to do is indulge in physical activity. Although it has been deemed helpful, some cannot bear an exercise routine due to increased menstrual pain.
Some just choose to skip their workouts due to increased fatigue and simply not feeling up to it. Skipping your workout has been associated with weight gain for various reasons. To begin with, you do not burn as many calories when you are inactive.
This can lead to weight gain if your calorie intake does not decrease to match your lesser amount of energy burned, and if it goes on for an extended period of time.
Many women have chocolate cravings during that time of the month. Some prefer white and others dark chocolate. Regardless of the type of chocolate one gives in to, the fact remains that chocolate contains quite a few calories.
During that time of the month, women often use their food cravings during their period as an excuse to overindulge. But, as we all know, consuming more calories than your body is burning leads to a calorie surplus that promotes weight gain.
Again, keep in mind that the calorie content varies from one chocolate type to another. Take a look at the nutritional profile of both white and dark chocolate as depicted by Medical News Today (4):
A 100-g serving of dark chocolate (Calories- 556, Fat- 32.4 g, Cholesterol- 5 mg)
A 100-g serving of light chocolate (Calories- 531, Fat- 30.57 g, Cholesterol- 24 mg)
Make sure you limit the amount of chocolate you have when you’re on your period. Some are definitely okay, but it is very tempting to eat more than is needed, which is why you may put on some weight.
During your period, hormonal changes affect your appetite. As a result, you may tend to have an increased appetite, which makes you want to overeat. The increased appetite may lead to compulsive or binge eating, which is an overwhelming urge to eat even when it is not necessary (5).
Experts acknowledge that a change in appetite some days before or during your period is normal (5). Sometimes binge eating may indicate a much more severe issue, especially if you continue with the behavior after your menses. For example, it may be a sign and symptom of binge eating disorder (BED) (5). Similarly, compulsive eating may indicate premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a more severe form of PMS (5). If you think either of those may be the case, speak to your doctor about it.
Most foods that are high in fat and calorie content are associated with unhealthy eating for various reasons. Foods that are high in certain types of fat may increase your LDL cholesterol levels, which increase your risk of diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and heart attacks (3). Likewise, foods with high-calorie content increase the risk of weight gain which, over time, can lead to overweight and obesity.
Unfortunately, women often crave unhealthy foods with high fat and calorie content during their period. There are women who crave sugar. According to Medical News Today, consuming excess dietary sugar is associated with weight gain (1).
If you consume excess sugar and do not exercise, your chances of weight gain are even higher. Similarly, if you also consume higher calorie and high-fat foods, you risk gaining weight. Therefore, food experts suggest you try as much as possible to limit such foods and those high in saturated fat.
These include fatty meats, heavy cream, butter, poultry skin, and full-fat cheese (3). Instead of these, you are urged to opt for lean meats, low-fat dairy, turkey bacon, skim link, or skin-free poultry (3).
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These are some of the major reasons why you might add some pounds during that time of the month. That said, we come back to our question on the average weight gain during period. Let us break it down and do the math for better insight.
What is the average water weight gain during this period? This may differ because, as we explained earlier, numerous factors affect water retention. Unfortunately, experts do not have an exact number. However, they acknowledge that fluid retention is high on the first day of menstrual flow (2).
Overall, experts state that the average weight gain during your period may be three to five pounds. However, you are likely to shed the weight after your period due to reduced bloating, water retention, inactivity, and food overindulgence.
The Bottom Line
Weight gain during your period is expected due to hormonal changes, increased appetite, sugar and salt food cravings, water retention, and reduced physical activity. The average weight gain during period is three to five pounds. Make sure you talk to your doctor if such weight gain does not sit well with you. Even so, this weight will likely be shed off after your period.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 5 reasons why sugar is bad for you (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Fluid Retention over the Menstrual Cycle: 1-Year Data from the Prospective Ovulation Cohort (2011, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Foods High in Fats (2020, webmd.com)
- Health benefits and risks of chocolate (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Is compulsive eating before a period normal? (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Why Am I Retaining Water? (2020, webmd.com)