What causes weight gain during period?

What causes weight gain during period?
  • PublishedAugust 4, 2020

In the week before your period, your body may feel quite different from its usual self, jeans may feel tighter or you may experience a rise in the scale, even if you have been eating healthy and exercising regularly before.  Well, weight gain during period is normal and will end soon after menstruation begins.

In this article, we are going to look at the causes of weight gain during period, how to treat weight gain, and how long it is supposed to last.

The causes of weight gain during period are hormonal changes, food cravings, gastrointestinal issues, and skipping exercise.

What causes weight gain during period?

The causes of period weight gain include;

1. Hormonal changes

Fluctuations in hormones such as Progesterone and aldosterone can lead to water retention. The hormone aldosterone for example is responsible for fluid management. Aldosterone levels will increase before ovulation and decrease after ovulation. This leads to an increase in water retention.

Progesterone also allows fluids to cross from blood vessels into the surrounding tissues. This leads to the temporary weight gain around your period and will dissipate on its own after your cycle begins and hormone levels drop.

2. Food craving

Women usually grab fast foods, chocolate, sweet, and salty foods during their period compared to normal days. This is mostly brought about by high levels of progesterone which is believed to increase appetite. Munching on salty chips and simple carbs, like candy or donuts, leads to fluid retention hence weight gain.

3. Skipping your workout

I understand it is much harder to hit the road or go to the gym during your period. This is because during periods hormone levels drop leading to lower energy levels. The combination of fatigue, being less active, and having extra treats may increase your waistline. In case you feel like you are gaining weight, push yourself to doing some exercise. Research shows that exercise can reduce PMS symptoms and the pain of menstrual cramps. 

4. Gastrointestinal struggles

Fluctuations in hormones for example estrogen and progesterone before and during menstruation can also lead to gastrointestinal problems such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea in many ladies of childbearing age.

Research shows that the changes in hormonal levels affect the speed and function of the GI tract leading to prolonged transit (constipation). With prolonged transit of the GI tract, the number on the scale will definitely increase. 

How much do you gain during period?

Weight gain during period should not worry you in the first place. It is usually water rather than the problematic fat. You should also understand that the symptoms of period vary from one individual to another, weight gain inclusive.

Some ladies gain more weight than others, but on average you can expect to gain anywhere from 1 to 3 pounds during your period, although some women may gain up to 5 pounds. In case you gain too much weight than the allowable weight, see a doctor’s attention.

Too much water retention may be a sign of an underlying health problem more so an endocrine or kidney issue.

How long does period weight gain last? 

Weight gain before and during period is not permanent. Weight gain normally starts a few days before your period begins and should get back to normal by the time menstruation occurs. You most probably will get back your normal weight 4 days after the period starts.

How do we avoid period weight gain? 

1. Drinking more fluids. Drinking during period keeps water retention at bay. This ensures better hydration and flushing out of your system. Target a minimum of two liters of water per day to keep bloating and weight gain at bay. Learn more about drinking water for weight loss from our article here.

2. Satisfy cravings with healthy foods. Eat foods that are rich in protein, fiber, and stock your fridge with fruit instead of having foods with added sugar.  The foods to eat include;

  • Dark chocolate that’s at least 70 percent cocoa. 
  • Beans
  • Apples
  • Whole grains

The foods to avoid include;

  • Salt and food with added salt 
  • Caffeine
  • Sugar 
  • Alcohol
  • Fatty foods

All these foods are associated with water retention weight gain.

3. Do some bit of exercise every day. Sweating will help you lose the excess water and consequently weight loss. Body exercise also triggers the production of endorphins which can boost mood and ease a cramp. We have a detailed guide of exercises to help you lose weight, get it here.

4. Taking magnesium supplements may help to alleviate bloating, breast tenderness and mood disturbance

5. Try taking diuretics to reduce the amount of water stored by the body (water retention). 

Bottom line

Weight gain before and during periods is not permanent. Weight gain normally starts a few days before your period begins and should get back to normal by the time menstruation occurs

Although hormonal changes swing moods, the two main approaches to manage weight gain during periods are exercising and drinking more water. If you experience persistent weight gain despite making those initiatives, you may want to consult your health care provider for other alternatives.


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