If bleeding, mood swings, and cramps weren’t enough, women on their period also tend to gain unwanted pounds, which makes it that much more difficult to stay on track for those who are on a weight loss journey. If you’re wondering how you can keep that number on the scale from creeping up when that time of the month rolls around, keep on reading.
Why Do You Gain Weight During Your Period?
This time of the month is an unpleasant experience due to cramps and blood, and weight gain makes it even more unpleasant. But do you really pack on pounds during period? Yes, many women suffer from weight swings during periods. There are different factors that may lead to such a result, including the following :
This is one of the most common weight gain reasons not only among women during period, but also in post-menopausal women (5), and in men (2). Since estrogen – the “female” hormone, peaks right before your period, it indirectly causes fluid retention, which makes you feel bloated and may result in a couple more pounds of water weight on your scale. Luckily, right after the beginning of your period, your estrogen levels decrease, and your body returns to the previous state.
Progesterone is another hormone that adds to your water retention. The level of this hormone peaks in the second half of your cycle. This may also lead to an increase in the size of your breasts. This is also a temporary phenomenon, and as your progesterone levels decrease, your body returns to its regular state.
Your bloating may be caused not only by water retention but also by digestive problems. The above-mentioned progesterone acts as a smooth muscle relaxant, slowing down spasms in your gastrointestinal tract and resulting in constipation. The best way to fight that, or the opposite problem (diarrhea), is to eat up fiber- and probiotic-rich foods.
Read More: Probiotics For Weight Loss: Can These Supplements Help You Lose Weight And Belly Fat?
The period often makes women crave food, and usually not the healthy ones. Some crave salty junk food, while others are dying for sweet candy. Both salty and sweet foods lead to fluid retention and weight gain. Although it may be very difficult to gain a couple of pounds in only a week, if your goal is weight loss, then you should resist your unhealthy food cravings. You can do this by satisfying your hunger with healthy alternatives, such as fruits, lean meats, vegetables, and others.
Too Much Caffeine
Women often feel very tired during their period. This causes them to want to boost their energy by drinking more coffee. However, any increased caffeine intake may add to bloating and discomfort. This means gulping down coffee and carbonated drinks is not a good idea if you want to reduce bloating. Instead, try to drink more plain water, and unsweetened tea. Infused water is also a great option.
Lack Of Exercise
It is only natural that when you are in pain and bleeding, the last thing you want to do is exercise and add some sweat and heat to the mixture. A week off from training can have an adverse effect on your weight. Please note that sweating may help you shed that water weight, and the endorphins, which are released when you exercise, and in this way can reduce cramps.
What To Eat During Period To Lose Weight?
As you can see, it is almost impossible to prevent period weight swings that happen mainly due to hormonal changes. However, you may minimize the changes on your scale. You can do it by adjusting your current diet. Here is a list of what to eat on your period and before it begins (6, 8, 3, 1):
What To Eat During Period To Lose Weight: Fiber
Fiber promotes the feeling of fullness, thus fighting hunger and reducing your unhealthy food cravings. You can find plenty of this nutrient in beans and legumes, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. The latter two are especially good for you since they are packed with essential nutrients and low in calories.
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Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids belong to the healthy fats. They can reduce inflammation in the body and maybe even reduce menstrual pain. This nutrient is present in fatty fish, nuts, and seeds. Make sure to consume more salmon, sardines, tuna, chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil, and others.
What To Eat During Period To Lose Weight: Calcium
One of the richest sources of calcium is dairy. Make sure to have more low-fat dairy products such as Greek yogurt. Besides being low in calories and filled with various nutrients, leafy greens are also rich in calcium, so you should definitely add them to your menu.
Since you lose blood during a period, your iron levels will drop. Knowing this, you need to restore your levels of this mineral by increasing your consumption of iron-rich foods. The best sources of iron include oysters, beef and beef liver, poultry and chicken liver, spinach, sardines, beans and lentils, dark chocolate, dried fruits, and others (4).
What To Eat During Period To Lose Weight: Antioxidants
Antioxidants can help fight off free radicals and are overall beneficial for you. Some of the richest sources of antioxidants are berries and fruits, especially citrus fruits.
Read More: Super Vegetables: Fiber And Antioxidant Bombs That Should Be On Your Plate Daily
What To Avoid During Period To Stay Fit?
Besides including the above-listed foods in your diet, you should also try to cut your consumption of the following (8, 1):
- Salty foods
- Added sugars
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Baked goods
While alcohol, salty and sugary foods, and baked goods are all on the blacklist of any healthy diet, cruciferous vegetables, which are overall healthy, are not your best choice in this situation if you suffer from bloating. Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale can promote gassiness and add to bloating.
Do You Burn More Calories On Your Period?
Many women wonder: “Do you lose more weight if you exercise while on your period?”. Although research shows that there are some resting metabolic rate (RMR) variations throughout the menstrual cycle, they differ on an individual basis (3). In general, you may burn more calories during period, but there is not enough scientific evidence to state that it is a regular occurrence.
How Much Weight Do You Gain On Your Period?
The weight you gain during period may vary individually. One may gain 5 pounds, while others may gain no weight at all. Therefore, there is no “average” amount of weight you gain during your period. All this depends on your diet, intake of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol, your lifestyle and exercise, and other factors (6). Don’t forget that some or all of that weight gain may be from water retention that will resolve itself.
Menstruation is a natural process for every woman. However, sometimes it can be very unpleasant. Many of you have probably noticed that you feel hungry before period. This hunger brings along unhealthy food cravings, which, when satisfied, make you gain weight during period. Even if you don’t satisfy your cravings, you can still notice that you look fuller. The reason for that is probably bloating, hormonal changes, or overconsumption of caffeine. Luckily, there is something you can do to fight your problem. Eat up on foods rich in fiber, calcium, iron, omega-3 fatty acid, and antioxidants, and avoid alcohol, salt and sugar, baked goods, and possibly cruciferous vegetables.
If you want your weight loss plan to be efficient, don’t forget to do some exercise on the regular basis.
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 to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 11 Diet Changes That Help You Fight PMS (2020, health.clevelandclinic.org)
- How Can a Man Tell if He Has a Hormonal Imbalance? (2021, medicinenet.com)
- Intra-individual variation in resting metabolic rate during the menstrual cycle (2003, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Iron-Rich Foods (2020, webmd.com)
- Menopause weight gain: Stop the middle age spread (2021, mayoclinic.org)
- Weight gain during period: What to know (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What Should You Eat During Your Period? (2021, health.clevelandclinic.org)
- What should you eat on your period? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)