Progesterone is a female hormone that helps regulate ovulation and menstruation. Synthetic versions, such as progestogens or progestins, work in similar ways and exist in both hormone-replacement products and birth control pills. Used as a treatment, these substances help women with irregular menstruation, infertility and PMS. Although they provide many benefits, they also produce unwanted side effects in some users, such as bloating and weight gain. Dietary modifications and lifestyle changes might help counteract these effects.
Get active. Having a regular exercise routine will help you counteract the weight-gaining effects associated with progesterone. Exercise also strengthens your body by protecting against bone loss, improving cardiovascular functioning, increasing HDL, or "good" cholesterol levels, and lowering blood pressure in people with hypertension. If time is a factor, divide your routine into three 10-minute sessions rather than one 30-minute program. Short, frequent spurts of movement are just as beneficial as longer routines.
Reduce your daily caloric intake by around 200 calories to counteract the weight-gaining effects of progesterone. This is particularly important for menopausal women over age 50, who naturally burn fewer calories than women in their younger years.
Snack smarter. Reducing calories is difficult, but you need not feel deprived while you are eating less. By making smart-snacking choices, you'll feel full while consuming fewer calories. Swap empty calorie snacks with lean protein foods, fruits and vegetables. Replacing caloric beverages with calorie-free options, such as herbal tea, water with a lemon garnish or diet soda, can shave hundreds of calories from your daily intake as well.
Sleep more. Most adults require seven to nine hours of sleep nightly, which may be fewer than you are used to. Sleep deprivation not only saps your productivity, it also increases your likelihood of becoming overweight, as people who lack adequate sleep often have a greater body mass index due to increased appetites, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Reward your progress. Counteracting the weight-gaining effects of progesterone means making long-term lifestyle changes. In doing so, you'll need plenty of encouragement to sustain your efforts. Set small exercise and dietary goals and reward yourself for keeping them. A small splurge at the mall or a celebratory evening out may help keep you motivated to continue your weight-maintenance journey.
- Women's Health Resource: Progesterone - Its Uses and Effects; Frederick R. Jelovsek, M,D,; 2009
- MayoClinic.com: Fitness; Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.; Oct. 21, 2010
- National Sleep Foundation: How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?
- MayoClinic.com: Women's Health: Menopause Weight Gain: Stop the Middle-Age Spread; Sept. 11, 2010