You've been putting a lot of effort into keeping yourself fit, especially for wearing your favorite summer clothing, but...this time of the month has come.
You’ve been exercising and eating healthy, but the scale just threw you a curve ball, clocking in at five more pounds than last week. And your favorite shorts just won‘t button—again. You know they fit last week though!
Don’t worry—if your shocking weigh-in lands the week before your period, you can chalk it up to water weight! Yes, it is possible and totally normal to put on a few extra pounds this time of the month. And you‘re not alone in this! Gynecologist Alyssa Dweck reassures that this is happening to basically every woman at the approach of her period – and we’re all equally upset about it. So, what exactly is going on in your body then?
It’s There Just For A While
Many women health specialists call it a weight gain, but we say it’s more accurate to refer to this phenomenon as weight fluctuation. Even though you see an uptick in your body weight on the scale — you’re not actually permanently putting that weight on. It goes away! The extra weight is just a fluctuation that happens in tune with a spike in hormones in the days leading up to your period — that’s why it’s so sudden (like, seemingly happens overnight).
It’s about water. There is definitely some water retention that occurs because of hormonal fluctuation right before the period, according to health experts. And this is where things start to get especially cruel. The things that are most likely to make your body retain water (which, combined with those hormones, causes the momentary weight gain) are the very things PMS makes you crave — salt, sugar, and caffeine.
Those Hormones Tricks
Doctors will explain to you that the female sex hormone estrogen peaks during the latter part of your menstrual cycle, right before your period. And high levels of this hormone can indirectly lead your body to retain fluid, making you feel bloated and potentially causing you to gain a few pounds of water weight.
The amount your weight fluctuates just depends on your own body — three pounds on someone might be five for someone else. The good news is, estrogen levels drop as you start your period, so you’ll feel some relief just in time for the cramps to kick in.
Another hormone that is to blame for these weight variations is progesterone. The hormone progesterone, which spikes when your body is getting ready to start your period, is mainly what influences the fluctuation. Progesterone is essential in the early stages of pregnancy, but when there’s no baby (a.k.a when you get your period), the levels of this hormone fall. As a side effect, each cell in your body retains an extra microscopic drop of water.
Pay Attention To The Cravings
What‘s also making your body retain water are the sugar, caffeine and salt that you‘re soothing yourself with as the PMS kicks in. (Yes, you may snack on junk food and skip the gym this time of the month. But you‘d have to eat a lot of junk food to really gain weight so quickly.)
We‘re going to take a wild guess that your period doesn‘t leave you craving broccoli. It‘s the salty and sweet stuff that‘s on your mind. Unfortunately, those foods are exactly what you don't need right now, gynecologists say. Munching on salty chips and simple carbs, like candy or donuts, leads to fluid retention, which causes bloating and putting on those extra pounds.
A Break From Counting Pounds
But you know what? This weight gain can even be a mental thing. Maybe you haven‘t officially packed on any pounds. But you feel like you look bigger when you step in front in the mirror. It‘s just a feeling you have inside because of the stress that PMS pushes you into.
As days pass, you start to experience fewer side effects. And you aren‘t as bloated. And those beloved shorts fit once again.
What’s the best thing you can do this time of the month? We advise you to step off and away from the scale. And wear clothing that makes you feel like a million bucks!