How Much Weight Do You Gain on Your Period: 5 Reasons for the Bloat
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If you’re like many women, you dread stepping on the scale during certain times of the month. It can seem like it doesn’t matter what you eat or how you exercise. When Aunt Flo gets ready to pay a visit, your body prepares for her arrival by padding on a few extra pounds.
Many women gain between three to five pounds before their period. What causes this swelling or edema? Is it inevitable? Let’s explore how much weight you typically gain on your period and whether it’s normal and consider the reasons for the bloat.
1. Hormonal Changes
Part of the reason for your monthly weight gain remains somewhat out of your control. The hormones progesterone and estrogen both increase in the days preceding your period. These substances tell your body to shed your uterine lining, but they also affect how your body retains water.
It all goes back to evolution. The principal goal of mother nature is ensuring the continuation of the species. Therefore, these hormones affect your thirst levels, fluid intake, sodium appetite and renal fluid and sodium regulation. It’s all designed to preserve the optimal balance for protecting future unborn children — but knowing this probably doesn’t decrease your distress when your jeans no longer zip.
You might be able to mitigate hormonal fluctuations through diet. Certain seeds, such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds, contain substances called lignans that act as phytoestrogens. Proponents of seed cycling suggest eating a tablespoon and a half of pumpkin seeds during the follicular phase, which lasts from the first day of your period to ovulation. Then, you switch to sunflower seeds for the luteal phase — ovulation to your next period.
Every month, your body releases an egg — fertilizing it at the right time results in pregnancy. However, this process goes awry in some women, causing polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This disorder can make you gain weight on your period and make it tough to shed.
PCOS affects anywhere from 5% to 10% of women. Symptoms often appear as young as age 11 — right after a woman begins ovulation.
Many people with this disorder also suffer from insulin resistance. Fully 88 million Americans currently live with such a prediabetic condition. Fortunately, you can reverse many cases of prediabetes through diet and exercise alone.
Cut back or eliminate substances like white flour, sugar and processed foods, opting instead for fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Try to hit the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for movement — 150 to 300 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
Endometriosis plagues one out of every ten women, but this condition often goes untreated. It takes an average of eight years for a woman to receive a diagnosis of this condition — often after having her concerns downplayed by health care providers with implicit biases toward female pain.
Endometriosis causes uterine tissue to grow in places other than where it’s intended — your uterus. It can develop anywhere in your abdominal cavity and can even spread to your lungs in rare cases. The pain associated with this condition can keep you from engaging in physical activity to manage your weight, creating a snowball effect.
4. Uterine Fibroids
Fibroids are growths of excess tissue that can cause considerable weight gain and pain. Particularly large fibroids can sometimes swell to extraordinary proportions. The largest one ever reported weighed 140 pounds — nearly another whole person.
All of the conditions listed thus far — PCOS, endometriosis and fibroids — can impact your fertility. Therefore, you should seek medical treatment if you suspect any of the above as a reason for weight gain on your period.
5. Undiagnosed Food Allergies
Millions of people walk around with undiagnosed food allergies and sensitivities. These conditions can contribute to excess inflammation and weight gain on your period when combined with hormonal changes.
If this sneaky condition affects your weight, you’ll notice an inflammatory response after eating the suspected food during other points of your cycle as well. You can request testing if you have access to routine medical care. Another method to try is an elimination diet — you should feel the slimming effects soon after removing the problematic substance from your diet.
6. Habit Changes
Finally, you might put on a few extra pounds around your period if your habits tend to change. The mind and body work together as one. Therefore, hormonal shifts can impact your mood, making going to the gym seem like a task akin to climbing Mt. Everest.
You might also experience increased food cravings around your period. Try your best to stick to a diet rich in whole, plant-based foods. Some people believe the hormones used in meat production could affect your reproductive health. You might even try switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet if period weight gain causes you significant distress. Doing so will reduce your carbon footprint — a win-win.
How Much Weight Do You Gain on Your Period?
How much weight do you typically gain on your period? Now that you understand the possible causes, you can take action to minimize the bloat.