Losing weight and successfully keeping it off is a battle that most of us are yet to win. It is so challenging, and especially for women, due to factors such as the menstrual cycle. As a result, your scale may either end up stuck or reading high numbers during your period. This stresses most women out, and it is no wonder that most want to understand the concept of weight loss after period.
Is weight loss after period achievable? Does it come naturally, or do you have to break a leg to shed pounds? You may be asking yourself all these questions after discovering that your period somewhat affects weight loss. This article will answer all these questions and more about weight loss during your menstrual cycle. We will explore the causes of weight gain during your period, what happens, and how you can shed the added pounds. Let us get started!
Why Develop A Weight Loss Plan After Period?
Most women tend to gain weight during that time of the month. The result, when you weigh yourself, the scale may indicate a number you are not so comfortable with or proud of. Most likely, you end up consulting a nutritionist to help develop a weight loss plan. But where does this weight come from? Well, weight gain during menstruation comes from several factors, some of which include:
Increased Calorie Intake
It is almost certain that every other woman will have cravings for different foods during that time of the month. For many women, the pressing food urge during their period is chocolate. However, the desires may differ, and some may crave ice cream, cake, or other sweet, starchy food.
Unfortunately, most women do not crave healthy foods, and neither do they regulate how much of the sweet, starchy foods they consume during this time. So let us take the example of chocolate and determine how it may result in weight gain.
According to Medical News Today, chocolate consumption has been linked to lower body mass index and central body fat (4). However, when people overindulge in chocolate, it results in a high-calorie count due to its high sugar and fat content (4).
Most women believe that they cannot gain weight during their period if they are eating dark chocolate. However, this is far from the truth. Despite dark chocolate having numerous beneficial antioxidants and minerals, it is still high in sugar and fat (11).
These two components make it a very calorie-dense food. Similarly, remember that dark chocolate contains cocoa butter, which may have a high content of unhealthful saturated fats (11).
So, overindulging in this food will result in extra calories. For example, a 100 g-serving of light chocolate has 531 calories, while the same serving of dark chocolate contains 556 calories (4). So, be extra cautious of how much chocolate you consume when on your period.
Reduced Willpower To Exercise
On top of having a sweet tooth, most women will also lose their motivation to exercise during that time of the month. As a result, you feel tired, and with the added calorie intake, lack of exercise only contributes to weight gain.
Instead of just lazing around, try to sneak in some minutes of exercise. For example, if you don;t feel up to going to the gym, try taking a brisk walk or jogging. These two aerobic activities will help you burn calories and promote weight loss.
You can also exercise indoors if you hate the outdoors. This is through activities such as dancing, stationary biking, and running on the treadmill. You can also grab your yoga mat and perform various yoga exercises at the comfort of your home.
Bloating during PMS also sabotages your weight loss efforts during that time of the month. It is not necessarily caused by overindulging during an occasional holiday feast. It may also be caused by overconsumption of rich and fatty food, which most women crave during their period (2). These may include fried foods like chips.
When you eat foods rich in fats, you get to feel uncomfortably stuffed. It is because fats take longer to digest and make the stomach feel fuller (2). So, experts advise that you try and limit fat consumption during PMS. Hormonal fluctuations can also lead to water retention, so stay well-hydrated and don’t overdo the salt.
Let us be honest. Many women skip breakfast and sleep during that time of the month. This is nothing new, given the hormone storm that comes from PMS. You may either have an increased or reduced appetite.
Many women will end up skipping breakfast, and the effect of this on your weight gain is severe. When you do not eat breakfast, you tend to become overly hungry throughout the day. As a result, you end up over-snacking, and especially on unhealthy snacks.
Similarly, you tend to disregard your daily calorie limit. Ignoring this limit leads you to a calorie surplus, which may contribute to weight gain. WebMD also advocates that skipping breakfast may contribute to mood swings during your period (1). It is because not eating affects your blood sugar levels, making you more irritable (1).
You may also end up adding weight during your menstrual cycle due to hormonal fluctuation. The two most affected hormones during this time of the month are estrogen and progesterone.
Progesterone is the hormone responsible for increased cravings and hunger during your menstrual cycle (3). Therefore, it makes you crave a lot of unhealthy foodstuffs, particularly carbohydrates and sugars.
As you may know, overindulging in such foods leads to a calorie surplus that may contribute to an extra few pounds. Unfortunately, you cannot control this hormonal fluctuation but can instead watch what and how much you eat.
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How Much Weight Do You Gain During Your Period?
There is no standard weight women are bound to add during PMS. Instead, it varies significantly because of your calorie intake and engagement in physical activity during this time of the month.
Women who still adopt healthy eating practices are likely to add a few pounds during their period. However, those women who do not watch what they eat and do not exercise end up adding more pounds.
However, Medicine Net acknowledges that you may gain around 3 to 5 pounds just before your period (10). If you add this to the pounds you add from a high-calorie intake, bloating, and water weight, you may end up adding more pounds than this.
Can You Lose Weight After Period?
Of course, if you looked at the scale after your period and freaked out, you may be wondering if you can lose the added pounds. You certainly can. However, for some people, weight loss after a period comes naturally.
You might have seen some women questioning if it is normal to lose weight after a period. Of course, it is normal, and this may happen a week after your menses. The main reasons for weight loss after period are as follows:
When you are done with your menses, bloating tends to reduce, mainly because of reduced hormonal fluctuation. Similarly, you also get to shed a few pounds because you have reduced cravings for fatty foods, resulting in added bloating.
Reduced Water Retention
To be clear, we need to emphasize that we are talking about water weight caused by hormonal fluctuation and not chronic water retention. According to WebMD, chronic water retention signals a kidney or hormone malfunctioning (13). It is dangerous as it may pose several health risks.
However, water retention caused by bloating and hormonal fluctuation also melt away a week after your menses. Most women will lose the water weight faster if they move more, drink more water, eat more fiber-filled and potassium-rich foods (13).
Read More: What To Eat During Period To Lose Weight?
Do You Get Heavy Period After Weight Loss?
For the longest time now, women have been trying to establish an association between weight and heavy periods. Some believe that a heavy period is a result of tremendous weight loss. On the other hand, others believe that weight does not influence heavy periods. But what does science say?
To begin with, it is essential to note that a heavy period can mean two things. One is constantly changing your pad or tampon every hour or so. Two, a heavy cycle could mean passing blood clots that are bigger than a quarter (12). If not, WebMD states that it could mean having periods that last for more than seven days (12). Several factors cause such a menstrual cycle.
According to experts, the most common cause of heavy periods is the womb’s inability to properly contract (7). Remember that the womb contractions help shed the lining of the womb, leaving your body together with some blood (7).
Heavy blood flow may also result from childbirth or using a contraceptive coil (7). Experts acknowledge that your menstrual cycle is not directly impacted by weight loss (6). However, they recognize that lower body weight may affect hormone production and lead to lighter periods (6).
How Do You Lose Weight After Period?
As mentioned earlier, some women will naturally lose weight after their menstrual cycle. However, others retain the weight, meaning they have to lose the weight by incorporating various weight loss techniques.
However, it is a bit harder to shed pounds after your menstrual cycle. Nonetheless, this does not mean that it is not achievable. You can make several choices to help prompt healthy and steady weight loss. Some of these choices include:
Maintain Healthy Eating Habits
Of course, the best and fastest way you will lose weight is by maintaining healthy eating habits. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these habits include eating mindfully, eating slowly, and more fruits and vegetables (5).
Eating mindfully incorporates habits such as eating without distractions and when hungry. Unfortunately, most of us tend to eat when we are not hungry, increasing our calorie intake. This may be because most of us mistake dehydration for hunger.
That said, before you eat, drink a glass of water and wait for thirty minutes. Then, if you still feel hungry, drink another glass and chill for another thirty minutes. If the hunger persists, then you can give in and eat.
Eating slowly allows you to concentrate on the food and listen to your body when signaling you when it is full. It is an excellent eating habit that can help you maintain a calorie deficit for weight loss.
Fruits and vegetables tend to contain low calories and high fiber content. The low calories make them excellent snack options. Similarly, the high fiber content helps increase your satiety levels, limiting or reducing overeating and frequent snacking.
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You can also lose weight faster and safer after your menses by engaging in physical activity. There is an assumption that weight loss can only occur if you practice resistance training. This is a notion.
You can lose weight by engaging in both aerobic and anaerobic activities. The CDC recommends you adopt more physical activity because it increases the number of calories you burn (9). When you combine this regular activity with a calorie deficit, you get to shed pounds faster.
However, this does not mean overdoing a physical activity in the hopes of losing weight overnight. This is impossible. The CDC recommends you work your way to 150 minutes if you are doing a moderately intense aerobic activity (9). If the aerobic exercise is more intense, you can aim for 75 minutes weekly (9).
Do not undermine the effectiveness of aerobic activities in calorie burning for weight loss after the period. For example, here is an overview of some aerobic exercises and the number of calories an individual weighing 154 pounds can burn (9):
- Hiking for half an hour- 185 calories
- Bicycling for less than ten mph for thirty minutes- 145 calories
- Walking for half an hour at a speed of 3.5 mph- 140 calories
- Dancing for one hour- 330 calories
- Jogging for thirty minutes at a speed of 5 mph- 295 calories
- Running for one hour at a rate of 5 mph- 590 calories
- Swimming for thirty minutes at slow freestyle laps- 255 calories
Quit stressing about how many pounds you have added during your period. It does you no good because added stress also contributes to weight gain. According to Medical News Today, stress triggers the release of two different hormones: cortisol and adrenaline (8).
Cortisol can remain in your bloodstream for an extended duration when released. As a result, its impact increases your appetite, leading to emotional or stressful eating (8). So, focus on reducing your stress levels by incorporating stress-management techniques such as yoga, meditation, and breathing and relaxation techniques (8).
Get Enough Rest
Medical News Today also acknowledges that getting less than 5 or 6 hours of sleep can result in weight gain and is an obesity risk factor (8). In addition, experts reveal that getting less sleep slows down your metabolism.
When your metabolism is low, your body burns fewer calories and instead stores most unused energy as fat (8). Likewise, not getting enough sleep increases the production of cortisol and insulin. As a result, these two hormones increase fat storage (8).
You can manage your weight during and after your period by getting enough sleep. Focus on improving your sleep quality by avoiding distractions such as noise and social media when you go to bed.
You can also improve your sleep quality by trying guided meditation before sleeping. It will help relax and calm you down, which makes you instantly fall asleep and soundly.
The Bottom Line
Do you gain weight during your menstrual cycle? Believe it or not, you do. You may end up gaining three to five pounds just before your menses. You might also add weight during your menses, especially if you have poor eating patterns and habits and never exercise.
Fortunately, weight loss after period may occur naturally if it was caused by bloating, water retention, or hormonal fluctuation. However, if other factors like increased calorie intake caused it, you will have to do more to get rid of the extra weight.
It will mean exercising more, creating and maintaining a calorie deficit, getting enough rest, and reducing your stress levels. As always, talk to your healthcare provider and fitness coach before making any changes to your diet and workout plans.
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!
- 8 Diet Dos and Don’ts to Ease PMS (2011, webmd.com)
- Bloating 101: Why You Feel Bloated (2010, webmd.com)
- Catch It Before It Kills: Progesterone, Obesity, and the Prevention of Endometrial Cancer (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Health benefits and risks of chocolate (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Healthy Weight, Nutrition, and Physical Activity (2021, cdc.gov)
- Heavy Menstrual Periods (2020, healthharvard.edu)
- Heavy periods: Overview (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- How to naturally lose weight fast (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight (2020, cdc.gov)
- Should I Weigh Myself During My Period? (2021, medicinenet.com)
- What are the health benefits of dark chocolate? (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What Your Period Says About Your Health (2020, webmd.com)
- What’s Water Weight? (2021, webmd.com)