Hey, beautiful ladies out there, Have you ever felt that your weighing scale is playing tricks with you around your menstrual cycle?
Don’t worry; it’s just your body doing some monthly work. Ladies, you aren’t alone in this gain; thus, embrace this normality and wait; the scale will soon relax in a few days.
PMS is a monthly visitor for most menstruating women. This visitor doesn’t come alone but brings a bag full of symptoms—mood swings, cravings, sleepiness, bloating, and, yes, weight gain.
But fear not; we have tips, tricks, and remedies to avoid this unwanted weight gain during periods. Join us as we explore possibilities:
Do Women Gain Weight Before/ During Periods?
Women commonly experience weight gain or fluctuation before and during their periods, and it’s completely normal. The primary reason is the hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle.
During the menstrual phase, particularly the days leading up to the actual period, hormones (estrogen and progesterone) tend to fluctuate.
Due to the hormonal shift, the female body deals with water retention, bloating, and puffiness, contributing to temporary weight gain.
Besides that, the increased progesterone levels stimulate craving, thus leading to higher calorie consumption and weight gain.
During periods, the actual fat gain is minimal or even nil sometimes; mostly, the water retention gives the illusion of gain. Whatever it is, that’s the natural part of a cycle.
How Much Weight Gain Is Normal During Periods? How Long Does It Last?
The fluctuation in weighing scales for women during periods can vary among individuals.
Generally, a woman may typically gain anywhere from 1 to 5 pounds (0.45 kg to 2.2 kg) temporarily. There isn’t an exact figure for any woman during different months, as it is mostly influenced by hormonal fluctuation and water retention.
As for the duration, this temporary weight gain lasts for a few days leading up to menstruation and following a few days. The bloating and water retention subside by the third day, or the end of the period. It is generally a short-term phenomenon, and the body returns to its normal state soon after.
Causes of Weight Gain During Periods
Waiting gain during periods can occur due to a range of factors, including the following:
➡️ Water Retention
Due to the increased progesterone and estrogen levels, water retention becomes common, leading to weight gain during periods. As the body holds more fluids, this can result in bloating.
➡️ Increased Cravings and Appetite
The higher progesterone levels stimulate appetite, thus resulting in cravings. Because of munching and snacking during periods, the short-term increase in calorie intake can cause weight gain.
➡️ Metabolic Changes
The metabolic changes during periods can contribute to minor weight gain and variations in energy expenditure.
Hormonal changes during periods affect bowel movement for some women, thus leading to constipation. Since the stomach isn’t clear, it may result in temporary weight gain.
The menstrual cycle triggers inflammation in women’s bodies, thus causing water retention, bloating, and temporary weight gain.
➡️ Increased Cortisol/Stress Level
Stress, mood swings, and irritability are common before and during the menstrual cycle. Stress during this phase contributes to increased cortisol levels, resulting in water retention and weight gain.
➡️ Low to No Physical Activities
Some women tend to stop following their physical activity routine due to fatigue and physical discomfort. This can impact the overall energy balance, thus contributing to weight gain.
Anti-inflammatory and pain relief medicines used during the menstrual cycle can cause water retention, bloating, and thus visual weight gain.
Genetic factors are crucial to how our body reacts to hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle. Genetic factors can even influence whether a woman gains weight, feels bloated, or deals with other PMSs.
➡️ Sleep Disturbance
Poor sleep quality and inadequate sleep are often associated with weight gain. A woman’s hormonal changes and physical discomfort during the menstrual cycle indirectly impact her weight.
How to Prevent Weight Gain During Periods?
Weight gain during periods is temporary, and it has no undue concern. However, if the gain is bothersome for you, follow these strategies to manage or minimize the impact, as preventing it entirely can be challenging:
- Drink plenty of water to flush out excessive fluid from the body. Doing so will help you prevent water retention and bloating.
- Eat high-fiber foods (along with a balanced water intake) to avoid constipation.
- Incorporate fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and legumes into your diet.
- Avoid packaged and processed food as well as salty snacks.
- Manage stress through yoga, breathing exercises, meditation, walks, gardening, reading, etc.
- Engage in regular exercise, as it helps regulate hormones, reduce stress, and manage PMS.
- Limit tea, coffee, and alcohol intake as they may contribute to dehydration, bloating, and water retention.
- Consider eating multiple small meals throughout the day instead of having large meals. Doing so will help you control cravings and manage blood sugar levels.
- Consult a healthcare professional for supplementation. Supplements like magnesium may help provide relief from PMS.
- Add dark chocolate (sugar-free or low-sugar), seeds, nuts, spinach, fatty fish, tofu, etc. to your diet to ensure magnesium intake.
- Prioritize a good night’s sleep, as it helps reduce stress, regulate hormones, and improve overall well-being.
- Take anti-bloating medications under the doctor’s prescription.
- Track your symptoms and tailor your lifestyle to manage them better.
- Skip sweets, especially sugary drinks (for instance, soda, Pepsi, etc.), as they may increase bloating.
- Drink herbal teas like green tea, peppermint tea, lemongrass tea, etc.
- Apply a warm compress, as it may help relieve bloating.
- Avoid any new diet, extreme diet, or high-calorie restriction during your periods.
Overall, weight gain during periods is natural, temporary, and very common among women. Although not all of them deal with it, relax; you aren’t alone.
The weight gain is primarily hormonally driven or may occur due to other common lifestyle factors. If you too deal with the same, understand the factors, evaluate your symptoms, and try managing them.
While complete prevention isn’t feasible, you can work on managing and minimizing it. However, if nothing helps, consult a healthcare professional, perhaps a gynecologist.
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). (2021).
- Seo AY, et al. (2013). Abdominal bloating: Pathophysiology and treatment.