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Weight Gain During Period: Is It Normal & How To Prevent?

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Medically reviewed by Ramakrishnan, G., Ph.D

Period Weight Gain

Menstruation is a part of every woman’s life. The same applies to the symptoms of it as well. However, the severity of it varies from one woman to another. Some may experience only mild symptoms[1] such as bleeding, bloating, tenderness in breasts, and mood swings among others. Some women may experience much more severe changes such as weight gain. 

And, it is very irritating when you put on some weight every time you experience premenstrual syndrome. It only becomes tougher if you are already a bit overweight. However, you can lose the period weight gain, by following some simple yet effective methods such as proper diet, regular physical activity, and CBD and weight loss. But, the real question is, how long it takes for you to shed the excess weight you have gained in your period[2]. This article will explain the exact answer to your query. 

How long will I lose weight after the period?

During your menstrual cycle, it is quite normal to gain about three to five pounds. This weight gain will go away after a few days on its own. However, if you gain more than that, you would have to follow a strict diet, proper workout regime, and keep an eye on your calorie intake. By doing so, you can lose the excess water weight in about 4-6 weeks. 

The causes of water weight gain during the menstrual cycle

If you are wondering why you gain weight around your periods, there are several reasons for that. And, when you figure out the particular reason for your gains, you can simply work on that specific issue and lose all the unwanted weight. So, without any further ado, let us see what causes weight gain during periods:

Hormonal Imbalances

Pretty much everyone knows that hormonal changes lead to excess weight gain. However, not many people know that hormonal imbalances peak at the time of the menstrual cycle. Just a few days prior to your period, your body will see sudden hormonal fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels. This indicates to your body that it is time to menstruate. 

Progesterone and estrogen play a crucial role in your body’s ability to regulate fluids. When these hormones go out of balance, it becomes very hard for your body to control fluid levels. This, in turn, results in the accumulation of water weight[3]. It is also known as Edema. Water retention is one of the major PMS symptoms. This temporary condition causes swelling in your breasts and stomach. However, do not worry, as it only causes you to retain water, but not fat growth. 

Bloating

One of the prominent symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is bloating. Almost every woman experiences it often. However, it is not a serious symptom that you should be worried about. While you are approaching your period, your body may undergo some hormonal changes. This may increase the gas in your GI tract, which in turn causes bloating.

Sometimes, excess fluid retention may also lead to bloating. When bloating happens, you may feel tight in your abdomen or a few other parts of your body. Along with bloating, you might also experience stomach cramps. This happens due to the increased production of chemicals called prostaglandins[4]

Bloating usually starts four to five days before your period. And, it continues for the first few days after your period begins. 

Food Cravings

Hormonal changes not only make you feel bloated, but they also lead you to overeat. Many women tend to experience high progesterone levels right before their period. Progesterone[5] is the hormone that stimulates appetite. So, it is natural that you feel hungrier at the time of your period. However, that does not give you a free pass to eat a lot. 

On the other hand, we have estrogen which regulates serotonin. It is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for controlling your appetite[6] and mood swings. When estrogen levels drop below normal before premenstrual syndrome PMS, so does serotonin. This simply causes more food cravings. 

Decrease in Magnesium

Magnesium is an important mineral that regulates your hydration levels. As soon as your period begins, your magnesium levels slowly decrease. This drop in the magnesium levels triggers sugar cravings, which will only contribute to PMS weight gain. Moreover, magnesium deficiency also causes dehydration.

More often than not, dehydration provokes your food cravings. It may also make you want to eat sugary foods, which can lead you to gaining weight. Simply put, magnesium deficiency should be treated sooner. 

Constipation

It may be surprising to find constipation as one of the PMS symptoms. But, the reality is, many women feel constipated[7] when they are on their periods. It may not be one of the prominent symptoms of PMS, but it does add to our problem here, which is period weight gain. And, the reason for that is mainly menstrual hormonal changes. Water retention is another reason for that.

When progesterone levels fluctuate, things tend to slow down. And, when you cannot get rid of your bodily wastes, you will experience a slight weight gain. However, this excess weight goes away soon after your period ends.

Skipping Exercise

When your body is experiencing period cramps, you will probably want to skip working out and take rest. However, this may not work in your favor. During your period, you will have cravings for foods, which contributes to weight gain. Simultaneously, if you skip working out, it only doubles the trouble. 

Also, if you stop working out, you may not be able to combat water retention which is one of the major symptoms of a period cycle. Lack of physical activity will definitely increase the chances of weight gain. Lack of regular physical activity worsens several disorders such as sleep apnea, which also affects your menstrual cycles. If you are not able to work out, at least try to manage your sleep apnea by using a mouthpiece for people with sleep apnea.  

How can we treat it?

There is no magic formula to help you with shedding the excess weight gain during your period. You need to spend effort on preventing excess water retention, in order to not gain a lot of weight. Moreover, if you are wondering how long after your period do you lose water weight, it totally depends on how well you work on it. Anyhow, here are a few ways you can avoid water retention during your period and stay in shape:

Stay Hydrated

Okay, this may sound a bit contradictory to what we have discussed earlier. Fluid retention causes you to gain a few pounds[8] during menstruation. Now you are reading that hydration is a treatment to counter that. Well, here is the thing. The human body holds onto things that are in shortage. 

So, if you are not hydrated properly, your body will store extra water, which leads to water retention. If you drink water properly, you will stay healthy and also not gain any weight during menstruation. Sufficient intake of water also reduces bloating as well. 

Healthy Diet

You may probably know how important it is to eat healthy foods. Well, it not only preserves your health, but also helps you stay in shape. Healthy eating habits can take you a long way. So, focus on the foods that don’t offer a lot of calories, especially fats. 

Try avoiding eating processed foods, as they contain severe amounts of calories, which is not healthy for you, especially during your periods. Also, foods like caffeine cause bloating and other gastrointestinal issues[9]. So, avoid caffeine while you are on your periods. At the same time, it is better to curb your sugar and salt intake, as they contribute to fluid retention.

Exercise Regularly

No matter how healthy your diet is, you will have to exercise regularly for better health. Especially, women need to workout in order to combat weight issues. Eating good food only does half the job. The second half of the treatment lies in working out, even during periods. 

When you go to the gym and get yourself some physical activity, your body will burn the excess calories, which will help you in reversing the weight gain caused by your periods. As soon as you start exercising regularly, you will notice a difference in your weight within a week or two. 

Eat PMS-fighting Foods

It is not easy to shed some weight when you are on your periods. However, if you focus on eating the below foods that are helpful in handling PMS symptoms, things become much easier for you.

  • Kefir: If you feel bloated, try drinking kefir-fermented milk. It helps in breaking down lactose, which is responsible for gas, bloating, and abdominal issues.
  • Spinach: In one cup of spinach, you will get 156 mg of magnesium. By eating this, you can avoid magnesium deficiency, which helps in dealing with a lot of PMS symptoms.
  • Avocado: It is rich in potassium, which helps in regulating sodium levels, and stimulating urination. With this, you can manage excess retention of water seamlessly.
  • Broccoli: This has high levels of calcium which fights fatigue. Broccoli is also rich in fiber, which reduces bloating and constipation. 
  • Seeds and Nuts: Most nuts and seeds are rich in Vitamin B, which reduces many PMS symptoms such as retention of fluid, irritability, and bloating. 

Conclusion

If you want normal weight and stay healthy during your periods, you will have to put in some effort. To decrease the severity of symptoms and lose excess weight, you will have to follow a healthy diet, workout regularly, and also keep an eye on your hormones. Also, if you are still struggling, better consult your doctor and see what they have to say. 


+ 9 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/. (2017). What are the symptoms of menstruation? [online] Available at: https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/menstruation/conditioninfo/symptoms
  2. ‌Davidsen, L., Vistisen, B. and Astrup, A. (2007). Impact of the menstrual cycle on determinants of energy balance: a putative role in weight loss attempts. International Journal of Obesity, [online] 31(12), pp.1777–1785. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17684511/
  3. ‌Tacani, P., de Oliveira Ribeiro, D., Barros Guimarães, B.E., Perez Machado, A.F. and Tacani, R.E. (2015). Characterization of symptoms and edema distribution in premenstrual syndrome. International Journal of Women’s Health, [online] p.297. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4362892/
  4. ‌Nih.gov. (2019). Period pain: Overview. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279324/
  5. ‌Krishnan, S., Agrawal, K., Tryon, R.R., Welch, L.C., Horn, W.F., Newman, J.W. and Keim, N.L. (2018). Structural equation modeling of food craving across the menstrual cycle using behavioral, neuroendocrine, and metabolic factors. Physiology & behavior, [online] 195, pp.28–36. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6251416/
  6. ‌CURZON, G. (1990). Serotonin and Appetite. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, [online] 600(1 The Neurophar), pp.521–530. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2252331/
  7. ‌Pati, G.K., Kar, C., Narayan, J., Uthansingh, K., Behera, M., Sahu, M.K., Mishra, D. and Singh, A. (2021). Irritable Bowel Syndrome and the Menstrual Cycle. Cureus. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7883586/
  8. Vij, V.A. and Joshi, A. (2014). Effect of excessive water intake on body weight, body mass index, body fat, and appetite of overweight female participants. Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine, [online] 5(2), p.340. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4121911/

Medically reviewed by:

Christina Cheung holds a Master’s of Pharmacy from the University of Bath (UK) and is a freelance writer specializing in medicine and science. With over a decade of experience as a community and hospital pharmacist both in the UK and abroad, she has dealt first-hand with patients facing medical difficulties and decisions. She now writes to promote medical health and wellness to better the community. Christina also has a published science blog with a passion for inspiring and encouraging medicine and science for kids and students. While not writing, she can be found strolling through the country parks with her family and pet dog.

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