Now that we have accepted the fact that weight gain is a part of PMS, we need to know what causes this condition. Once we know the causes, it will be easier to take the appropriate steps to counter the said problem.
Weight gain during one’s period is often due to water retention. Water retention is also known as fluid retention or edema. It is normally caused due to hormonal changes, which happen during this time. A number of women may identify with water retention by experiencing bloating. It is often observed that before and during a period, women normally have problems with their bowel movements. This also leads to water retention. There are other causes of water retention, among these, drop in progesterone levels in the body is the most experienced.
Menstrual bloating is often due to gas accumulation in the intestine. It can be due to changes taking place in the body and inactivity before and during a menstrual cycle. Bloating can also cause severe menstrual cramps. Bloating can be a result of constipation, which is a common condition during this time.
Overeating and Food Cravings
Weight gain during a menstrual cycle can also be due to overeating, which happens because the brain does not get adequate glucose to function effectively. In most cases, the glucose levels in the body go for a toss during one’s period. Women tend to overeat due to the rise in metabolic levels. Usually, women consume about 100 to 200 calories more than what they regularly consumed, especially on the days when bleeding is heavy. Most women notice that they have food cravings before and during their period. These cravings do not last for a long duration and go away on their own.
Drop in Magnesium Levels
It is commonly seen, that red-celled magnesium levels dip low during the pre-menstrual days. This in turns leads to a low production of insulin. When the levels of insulin in the body drop, sugar cravings arise as the brain goes into panic mode. This results in over-consumption of sugar and in turn weight gain.
It is not very difficult to treat weight gain. A small change to one’s diet can help in alleviating water retention problems.
You need to reduce your sodium intake during this time, that means lesser salt and avoiding packaged food. Less sodium reduces the chances of water retention.
If bloating and water retention is pronounced, you may want to try a diuretic. It is not recommended, but if bloating is causing you a lot of discomfort, you may want to have one (consult a doctor/pharmacist first).
Drinking warm water mixed with lime juice early in the morning helps in reducing water retention. However, salt should not be added to the water.
Calcium plays an important role in preventing and curing water retention problems. Make sure your calcium intake is sufficient. Women, who follow a vegan diet, should pay attention to how much calcium is taken – studies have shown that they often lack calcium in their diet.
It is commonly observed that women avoid exercises prior to their menstrual cycle. At the same time, they are also very inactive when they are on their cycle, which leads to weight gain.
While you may have food cravings, it is important to make sure you are eating healthy, sumptuous meals. Avoid food laden with refined sugar.
The diet should be rich in complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and fiber.
Healthy small meals at regular intervals and in adequate quantities also helps in managing food cravings during this time.
Limit or avoid the intake of caffeine and alcohol before and during a period.
Keeping oneself hydrated is necessary. One can have fruit and vegetable juices (homemade), or coconut water.
Eating foods rich in iron is also important before the start of one’s menstrual cycle and during it, since most women feel anemic and tend to reach out for comfort food (usually junk food sources).
The average weight gain during a period is anywhere between 1 to 6 pounds, as mentioned earlier. However, in some women, there will not be noticeable weight gain. The only important thing to remember is that you should panic for no reason, if you notice weight gain. Understand that it is normal and will go away once you are done with your menstrual cycle.