It’s easy to feel self-conscious when you’re on your period.
So we’ve put together some reasons as to why you really shouldn’t worry about.
As if you didn’t have enough to deal with, what with PMS, heavy flow days and cramps, it can seem like your brain is ganging up on you too — you could swear that you’ve put on a few pounds in the run-up to your period.
You’ll be pleased to know that it’s not all in your head; period weight is a real thing.
It’s something pretty much all women experience, so don’t be alarmed if the number on the scales is looking a bit higher during your period.
In this post, we’ll be investigating five reasons why you might be gaining weight on your period — and why you shouldn’t worry about it.
Those pesky period hormones are responsible for a lot of things: PMS, hot flushes and breakouts. But did you know that fluctuations in your hormone levels can also cause you to gain weight when you’re on your period?
Estrogen and progesterone affect the way that your body regulates fluid when you’re on your period, and this can result in water retention, (when the tissue in your body accumulates more water).
Water retention can make you feel puffy, swollen and heavy — which isn’t fun. But the good news is that while you’re putting on a bit of weight during your period, it’s literally water and not fat. And it’ll disappear when your period does too.
Water retention affects basically all menstruating woman out there, so don’t worry — you’re not alone.
Overeating and food cravings
We’ve all been there. When you’re suffering from the worst cramps imaginable, and you’re having a heavy flow day, it’s all too easy to reach out for the comfort food like chocolate, ice cream or pizza, and hide away under the duvet to watch Netflix.
Food cravings — and the overeating that happens as a result — are a big reason for gaining weight during menstruation. And, unfortunately, unlike water retention, this one’s a keeper; this time, you’re adding more calories to your daily intake, which is going to add on the pounds.
Scientists aren’t entirely sure why cravings happen during menstruation, or why we crave the particular food that we do (apparently chocolate is the most common craving). What we do know, however, is that satisfying these cravings does release endorphins (happy chemicals) in the body, which helps us to cope with PMS and cramping better.
So don’t deny yourself if you fancy a chocolatey treat. Instead, the next time you want one, choose a bar of dark chocolate instead.
While milk chocolate contains lots of sugar, which can make your cramps worse, anything above 70% cocoa is good for you due to its high magnesium content and helps boosts our own natural magnesium levels and tackles period pain.
When you’re feeling bloated and sore, it’s hard to muster up the willpower to get to the gym or go for a jog. And missing out on the workouts — even if it’s just for a week— can cause you to put on a bit of weight.
It’s not going to be much, so it’s not worth worrying about, especially if you’re feeling low in energy and battling the worst cramps in the world. Listen to your body; if it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it.
However, there are lots of perks to exercising on your period, such as relieving cramps, by increasing your circulation. Exercise can also boost your mood and energy — perfect for those PMS mood swings.
It doesn’t have to be a marathon; even low-impact exercise like some gentle yoga can help to keep you energised and feeling more comfortable during your period.
Hormonal fluctuations aren’t just responsible for water retention — they can also cause you stomach problems during your period. Basically, hormones are the worst, and the main reason for all of your weight problems.
The science behind it goes roughly like this: an increase in progesterone during your period affects your intestinal muscle contractions (which help you digest food normally). The impaired contractions result in slow digestion, which leads to problems like constipation, bloating (due to extra gas in your digestive system), and general discomfort.
Like with water retention, putting on a few pounds due to hormone-related tummy problems is totally normal and nothing to worry about. If you’re really feeling it, you can add more fibre to your diet to improve your digestive health.
Drinking too much coffee
Being on your period is exhausting. Quite literally; the hormone fluctuations in our bodies during menstruation make us tired and low in energy, as do heavy flow days.
And to try and counteract this fatigue, most of us find ourselves necking (drinking) countless cups of coffee during the day.
Unfortunately, drinking these excessive amounts of coffee has a detrimental effect on our tummies — making those bloated, uncomfortable feelings even worse.
So if you’re a coffee drinker, you might find yourself feeling heavier and more bloated during your period. The same goes for other caffeinated drinks; fizzy drinks like coke are just as bad, and normally contain large quantities of sugar, which is also going to make your bloating worse.
So the next time you find yourself reaching for the coffee pot during your period, why not go for a nice pint of water instead? Drinking lots of water can help to get rid of period bloat and can tackle tiredness by keeping your brain hydrated so that you feel refreshed and energised!
To combat your cravings, there are alternative coffee’s on the market such as Whole Earth Organic.
Putting a bit of weight on during your period is a perfectly natural thing that pretty much all women experience, so don’t worry if you do see the scales creep up a little bit during that time of the month. Water retention and bloating are usually to blame anyway, and you’ll soon see your weight go back down once your period is over.
In the meantime, drink plenty of water, make yourself comfortable (who doesn’t love a floaty summer dress?), and don’t forget to treat yourself to a bit of dark chocolate!
If these symptoms persist it may be a good idea to consult your local doctor.