You’ve been doing everything right — eating healthily, sticking to a great fitness regime, turning down alcohol-fuelled nights out… so why does your weight randomly increase every so often?
The answer could be your period.
Period weight is a real thing; women can gain up to five pounds on their periods. This can be frustrating, especially if you’re trying to get a lean beach body for the summer.
In the post below, we’ll be investigating four reasons why you might be gaining weight on your period — and some easy fixes.
#1 Fluid retention
The main culprit behind the weight gain you’re experiencing on your period is water retention.
Essentially, fluctuations in your hormone levels (specifically estrogen and progesterone) affect the way that your body regulates fluid. This results in water retention which is when excess fluid builds up in your body.
While it’s great to know that you’re not piling on the pounds because of any additional fat gain, water retention can still leave you feeling bloated, swollen and heavy — not ideal.
Luckily, there are some simple ways that you can reduce fluid retention such as reducing your salt intake and drinking plenty of water (sounds counterintuitive, but it does work).
#2 Food cravings
Food cravings alone aren’t enough to make you put on weight during your period. However, the resulting increased intake of food — especially the sugary, salty, fatty food that people tend to crave during their period — can cause you to put on a couple of pounds at that time of the month.
Need more reasons? Although it can be tempting to binge on pizza, chocolate and ice-cream when you’re PMS-ing, these foods can exacerbate mood swings (due to sugar crashes), increase bloating (that’s the salt and saturated fats working) and even make cramps worse.
If you’re wondering what to eat on your period instead, there are plenty of period-friendly foods you can opt for — which can boost your energy levels, improve mood swings and top up your iron levels (which decrease during your period).
If you feel like lentils and fish aren’t cutting the mustard, don’t worry — chocolate is still on the table! However, instead of going for cramp-inducing sugary milk chocolate, you should pick up a bar of dark choccy. The high magnesium content in bars of 70% cocoa and over can boost your mood and tackles period pain.
#3 Skipping your workout
We’ve all been there — if you’re feeling sore, have a heavy flow, and the cramps are at an all-time high, it’s difficult to push yourself out of the door and head to the gym. Most of the time, you just want to curl up and binge on new shows on Netflix. So it’s all too easy to skip your regular workout and disrupt your fitness routine.
Here comes the bad news: missing out on exercise when you’re on your period can cause you to put on weight.
You’re not going to put on tons of weight, but if you’re skipping your regular exercise for a week or longer, and you’re giving into sugar cravings and overeating, then you might see that number on the scales move up slightly.
If you’re feeling low in energy and struggling with cramps, then it’s not always the best idea to push yourself to work out how you normally do. Instead, adapt your regime to your cycle — when you’re feeling tense and sore, do some low-impact exercise like swimming or gentle yoga. This will help to improve your circulation and ease period cramps, and the endorphin-release will boost your mood and tackle PMS!
#4 Gassy bloating & digestive problems
As if cramps and mood swings weren’t enough, the hormone fluctuations caused by menstruation can even result in stomach problems.
From trapped wind to constipation to diarrhoea, your period hormones can unleash all sorts of chaos in your digestive system. This is because progesterone affects your intestinal muscle contractions, which help you digest food. By slowing these contractions down, your period can cause bloating and weight gain.
On the whole, this isn’t really anything to worry about, and your digestive health will get back on track. But if you want to help your tummy out and avoid any issues, you can add more fibre to your diet in the form of more veg, beans and whole grains to aid digestion.
These are four reasons why you might be seeing the scales creep up during your period.
The important thing to remember is gaining a bit of weight while you’re menstruating is perfectly natural, and mostly down to gassy bloating and water retention — which will disappear later in your cycle.
If you’re prone to overeating and skipping workouts while you’re on your period, it is possible to put on a couple of pounds. However, this is easily fixed by incorporating some period-friendly food and low-impact exercise into your routine so don’t worry!