Do You Gain Weight on Your Period?

Do You Gain Weight on Your Period? Myths vs Reality

Exploring the truths about period weight gain provides insight that goes beyond myths and misconceptions.

Hey there, fabulous friends! Ready to dive into a topic that's often wrapped in confusion and whispers? Yep, we're talking about period weight gain. But don't fret; we're about to uncover the myths, spill the scientific tea, and serve up some handy tips to sail through your cycle like a pro. Who's with me? 

Gaining weight on your period? Really? You might wonder. Well, yes and no! It's a little complicated, but mostly it's about water retention and those sassy hormonal fluctuations.

So, grab a comfy seat, and let's break down the different phases of the menstrual cycle. It's time to understand what's really happening and how you can rock your body's rhythm, every day of the month.  

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Each phase of the menstrual cycle comes with its unique set of feelings and needs. By understanding what's happening within your body, you can make more empowered choices in exercise, nourishment, and self-care.

Whether it's pushing yourself in a high-intensity workout during the ovulatory phase or curling up with a comforting meal during menstruation, these tips are designed to support the beautiful, dynamic journey of your monthly cycle. Let's get started!

Menstrual Phase (Days 1-5)

What to Expect: This is the beginning of the cycle, marked by shedding the uterine lining, which leads to your period. You might feel fatigued, crampy, or moody.

Exercise Tips: Embrace gentle movement. Yoga, stretching, swimming, or walks can be soothing. Listen to your body; if rest is what it calls for, don’t feel lazy doing just that! 

Also Read: Strength, Cardio, and Flexibility: 21 at Home Workouts for Women


What to Eat: Probiotic-rich foods like yogurt and fermented vegetables are great choices.  

  • Iron-Rich Foods: Spinach, lentils, red meat, fish, tofu.
  • Hydrating Foods: Watermelon, cucumber, herbal teas.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Salmon, flaxseeds, walnuts.
  • Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers.
  • Comfort Foods: Warm soups, stews, or porridges.

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Follicular Phase (Days 6-14)

What to Expect: Estrogen levels rise, promoting a feeling of well-being and energy. Your body's preparing for ovulation, so you might notice increased energy and attitude! 

Exercise Tips: Leverage that energy. Engage in more intense activities like cardio intervals, HIIT, or even outdoor cycling or running. It's your time to shine and challenge yourself! 

What to Eat:

  • Whole Grains: Quinoa, brown rice, oats.
  • Lean Proteins: Chicken, turkey, beans, lentils.
  • Healthy Fats: Avocado, nuts, olive oil.
  • Energizing Fruits & Vegetables: Berries, leafy greens, beets.
  • Prebiotic Foods: Garlic, onions, leeks.

Ovulatory Phase (Days 15-17)

What to Expect: During this phase, the body experiences a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), leading to the release of an egg from the ovary. This is a time when many women feel strong, energetic, and perhaps more focused. It's often considered the "peak" time of the month. 

Exercise Tips: Strength training is fantastic now. Hit the weights, try Pilates, or engage in other muscle-building activities. If you enjoy group classes, this might be a great time to join one. 

What to Eat: 

  • Healthy Fats: Avocados, nuts, seeds.
  • High-Quality Proteins: Lean meats, fish, tofu, legumes.
  • Antioxidant-Rich Foods: Berries, citrus fruits, dark leafy greens.
  • Zinc-Rich Foods: Oysters, pumpkin seeds, whole grains.
  • Fermented Foods: Sauerkraut, kimchi, plant-based yogurt.

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Luteal Phase (Days 18-28)

What to Expect: Ah, the PMS zone. Possible symptoms like cravings, mood swings, or even headaches. Progesterone rises, and you might feel a bit more sluggish or emotional. 

Exercise Tips: Mobility work, knee-friendly workouts, or gentle aerobic exercises can be soothing. If you're feeling tense, swimming, or tai chi might be just the thing.

What to Eat: Focus on natural, non-processed foods. Include seed cycling and satisfy cravings with whole food options like lean meats, dairy, or complex carbohydrates. Probiotic-rich foods can be especially useful during the luteal phase, as they may help to alleviate PMS symptoms.  

  • Complex Carbohydrates: Sweet potatoes, whole grains, legumes.
  • Magnesium-Rich Foods: Dark chocolate, almonds, spinach.
  • B Vitamins: Eggs, fortified cereals, nutritional yeast (for vegans).
  • Fiber-Rich Foods: Apples, pears, broccoli.
  • Soothing Foods: Ginger, peppermint tea, asparagus.
  • Probiotic Foods: Yogurt, kefir, miso.

Ever feel like your period has an agenda against you, especially in the weight department?

You're not alone, and it's not just about munching on too many cookies. From weight gain misconceptions to exercise myths, the menstrual cycle seems to be shrouded in wacky beliefs and misinterpretations.

Fear not! Let’s debunk these myths, shed light on what's really happening, and provide you with actionable tips to navigate this natural process. Let's dive into the truth, shall we…

Myth 1: "Gaining weight on your period? Must be all those extra snacks!"

What It Means: It's common to feel a little heavier during your period, but it's not usually due to overeating. Hormones like estrogen and progesterone cause temporary fluid retention. It's a natural process, not permanent weight gain.

Tips to Treat:

  • Avoid Salty Foods: Salty snacks can exacerbate water retention, so opt for fresh fruits or veggies instead. 
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to help your body balance the fluid levels. 
  • Eat Balanced Meals: Include proteins, healthy fats, and fiber to keep you full and nourished.
  • Listen to Your Body: Your body has its wisdom, so don't stress too much about the scale.

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Myth 2: "You can't exercise during your period.”

What It Means: Exercise is not only possible during menstruation but can also be beneficial. It's about finding what feels good for your body. 

Tips to Treat:

  • Yoga and Relaxation: Gentle yoga can ease cramps and help with relaxation.
  • Cardio for Energy: If you're feeling energetic, try steady-state cardio
  • Stretching and Mobility: These can ease muscle tension and promote comfort.
  • Customize Your Routine: Your body might feel different during your period, so adapt your workout to how you feel.

Myth 3: "Cravings? Must be a lack of willpower!"

What It Means: Cravings during your period aren't a sign of weakness. Hormonal changes can lead to cravings for specific foods. 

Tips to Treat:

  • Choose Dark Chocolate: It can satisfy a sweet tooth and offers antioxidants.
  • Balance Your Meals: Eating balanced meals throughout the day can reduce cravings. Include foods like quinoa, sweet potatoes, avocados, lemon, apple cider vinegar, dark leafy greens, and a variety of protein sources.
  • Moderation is Key: It's okay to indulge a little; just remember to keep it balanced.

Myth 4: "PMS? All in your head!"

What It Means: PMS is real, and symptoms like anxiety or depression aren't imaginary. They're a normal response to hormonal changes in the body.

Tips to Treat:

  • Try Meditation: It can help with stress and emotional balance.
  • Pamper Yourself: Treat yourself to a warm Epsom salt bath, a hike outside, some solitude, a good book, or whatever makes you feel good.
  • Seek Support: If feelings become overwhelming, don't hesitate to talk with friends, family, or professionals.
  • Allow Yourself to Feel: Your emotions are valid; give yourself permission to feel them without judgment.

Myth 5: "Bloating during your period means you're gaining fat."

What It Means: Bloating during menstruation isn't about gaining fat. It's typically a result of hormonal fluctuations, particularly progesterone and estrogen, which cause the body to retain more water and salt. This retention can make you feel puffy or swollen, but it's usually temporary and subsides after your period. 

Tips to Treat:

  • Avoid High Sodium Foods: Reducing salty snacks and processed foods can minimize water retention.
  • Get Hydrated: Contrary to intuition, drinking more water can help reduce bloating by helping your body shed excess sodium. Herbal teas such as chamomile, chai, ginger, and dandelion root can help with hydration also. 
  • Focus on Fiber-Rich Foods: Foods rich in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can aid in the process. 
  • Consider Gentle Exercise: Movement like stretching, walking, or yoga may ease bloating by stimulating the muscles in your gastrointestinal tract.
  • Mindful Eating: Eating slowly and chewing well can minimize swallowing air, which can contribute to bloating. 

Also Read: 23 Low Sodium Snacks that You Must Add to Your Day 

Myth 6: "My pants are fitting tighter; I must be gaining weight during my period!"

What It Means: Feel like you suddenly need a bigger size during your period? You're not alone, and no, you're not piling on pounds overnight! This sensation is likely due to bloating caused by hormonal changes. Your body may retain more water during your period, especially in the abdomen area, making your clothing feel snugger. It's a temporary situation, not a permanent weight gain.

Tips to Treat:

  • Wear Comfortable Clothing: opt for loose-fitting clothing, or pants with an elastic waistband, to ease discomfort during these days. 
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids like water and herbal teas to help flush out excess sodium. 
  • Avoid Gas-Producing Foods: Foods that may produce gas, beans, broccoli, brussels, or certain vegetables, can exacerbate bloating. You might want to limit them during this time. 
  • Try Gentle Movement: Activities like walking, stretching, or yoga can support digestion and relieve that "tight" feeling.
  • Embrace the Temporary: Remember, this too shall pass! Acknowledging that this is a short-term feeling can make it easier to navigate.

Myth 7: "Menstrual products are one-size-fits-all."

What It Means: This misconception implies that all menstrual products suit every individual's unique needs and body. However, our bodies and preferences are different, and the products we use during menstruation should reflect that. 

Tips to Treat:

  • Explore Options: Menstrual products come in various forms, such as pads, tampons, and menstrual cups. Experiment to find what suits your body and lifestyle. 
  • Consider Eco-friendly Products: If you prioritize sustainability, investigate reusable options like cloth pads or menstrual cups, or organic, biodegradable products. They may be more environmentally friendly and free from hormone-disrupting chemicals.
  • Talk with Healthcare Providers: If you're uncertain, seek professional guidance from a healthcare provider. They can recommend products that align with your anatomy, lifestyle, and menstrual flow.
  • Prioritize Comfort: Your comfort should be the ultimate guide in choosing menstrual products. Consider how a product feels, its ease of use, and how well it works for your flow. 
  • Understand Menstrual Cups: Menstrual cups are reusable and come in different sizes and materials. They might require some adjustment but offer an environmentally friendly and cost-effective option. Reading reviews, watching instructional videos, or even consulting with a provider can help you find the perfect fit.

Exploring the truths about period weight gain provides insight that goes beyond myths and misconceptions. By understanding the unique phases of the menstrual cycle and how they connect with our body's needs, we can take charge of our well-being and manage our health in a comprehensive way.

Whether it's choosing the right exercise, nourishing ourselves with balanced foods, or finding the right menstrual products, the path to comfort lies in understanding our individual needs and preferences. 

Over to You 

So, the next time you experience those familiar sensations, rather than worrying about tighter pants, a number increase on the scale, or bloating, take a moment to appreciate the incredible complexity and strength of your body. Enjoy a piece of dark chocolate, stretch out with some gentle yoga, or simply be present with yourself. Your body's natural rhythms are not hindrances but rather beautiful aspects of being human. Learn from them and thrive with them. After all, you're not just surviving your period; you're flourishing through it!

By: Adele Kiriakou
Transformation Trainer & Lifestyle Coach

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