4 Reasons You Gain Weight During Your Period—And What to Do About It

Woman's feet in colorful socks on  scale

Weight gain during your period is common, but there are a bunch of small, easy things you can do.
Image: Shutterstock

Weight gain during your period is common—most women gain anywhere from one to ten pounds leading up to and during menstruation. But why does the weight gain happen…and what can you do about it?

Basically, it all comes down to the fluctuation of hormones and the changes happening in your body.  Some common reasons for weight gain:

  • Water retention. Bowel problems and the natural drop of progesterone during your period seem to be the most common reasons for this.
  • Bloating. This could be caused by increased gas in the intestine or just more inactivity than usual (sometimes it’s hard to keep the exercise regular when you’re not feeling your best!).
  • Food cravings and overeating. With sugar levels fluctuating, period cravings may begin affecting what—and how much—you eat, which can lead to weight gain.
  • Decrease in magnesium. The magnesium levels in your body tend to go down just before your period, which causes insulin levels to rise. That’s why you crave sugar, which can lead to reaching for an extra candy bar…and gaining a few pounds in the process.

So that’s the bad news. Now…what can you do about it?

It’s important to note that period weight gain is often temporary. Particularly when you’re younger, you’re likely to lose the weight again right after your period without having to switch up your diet or exercise much.  As you get closer to menopause, however, the weight gain can get worse—as much as 15 pounds or more—and harder to lose.  So here are a few tips on stopping that weight gain in its tracks:

  • Reduce sodium intake. Yes, it’s hard to cut out the fast food when you’ve got the craving, but too much sodium can cause water retention and weight gain. So you’re better off cutting back on the salt as much as possible.
  • Reduce bloating. We’ve got some great tips on how to do that over here.
  • Increase your magnesium and calcium intake. Cooked spinach, black beans, and pumpkin seeds are all good sources of magnesium. Keeping an eye on your calcium intake by drinking milk and eating leafy green veggies can help prevent water retention. You can also look into taking a nutritional supplement.
  • Try yoga. The exercises can be soothing while still keeping you active. Depending on how you feel, there may be certain poses you need to avoid, but it’s worth giving it a try with these yoga poses for menstruation.

Weight gain during your period is no fun, but it’s not necessarily something to worry about. Just keep these tips in mind, and stay as active as you can, and you’ll find maintaining your ideal weight much more easily.

Why Does PMS Cause Water Weight?

Water Weight During Period

UGH. Do you ever get that balloon-like feeling? PMS and other hormonal changes can really affect how your belly feels. Many women get cramps, headaches, back pain, and more during their periods – but your body changes before your period as well. That uncomfortable bloating around the abdomen, hips, and thighs that we disdainfully refer to as “water weight” is a product of an imbalance of magnesium and potassium in the body. This is due to a change in hormones.

While it may seem like a lot, it is common to gain between 1 to 6 pounds before and during your period. This can happen regardless of how healthy you are. Some women will have a noticeable weight gain, while others don’t. Remember not to panic either way - this is totally normal!

Some girls try diuretics to reduce the bloat, but in the long run, diuretics rob you of important minerals that your body needs to function. Here are a few options to reduce this water weight gain:

  1. Avoiding salty foods will reduce the chances of water retention.
  2. Make sure you’re getting enough calcium.
  3. Keep yourself hydrated. Drinking more water doesn’t mean you are going to gain more water weight!
  4. Eat plenty of fruits and veggies.
  5. Cut back on refined sugars.

While these are great tips, we also just recommend a “roll with it” approach. Help your body out with these tips, but don’t feel bad if you occasionally give into that chocolate bar. Whether it’s yoga pants to the library or a flowy dress to the office, wear something loose and comfy so you don’t feel miserable all day. Plus, remember that the mind tends to blow the actual appearance of bloating waaaaaay out of proportion. You still look great, and the bloating will go away as soon as your period comes!