Throughout your menstrual cycle, hormone levels fluctuate. Particularly severe changes occur during the one or two weeks before your period begins. As a result, you might experience premenstrual syndrome. Women who have PMS experience stronger than average hormonal changes, and those changes can lead to a variety of symptoms such as bloating, food cravings, increased appetite, stress, fatigue, irritability and anxiety. Some of these changes can lead to weight gain.
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Bloating and Water Retention
Two types of temporary weight gain occur during PMS: bloating and water retention. The hormonal changes in your body cause your flesh to retain more water than average. Even if you haven't consumed extra calories or added fat to your body, you may weigh a few more pounds than normal. Some people call this water-weight gain bloating, but the University of Maryland Medical Center notes that bloating also involves swelling in the stomach area caused by extra gas in your digestive system, which is yet another effect of hormonal changes.
It’s Only Temporary
Because bloating and water retention are symptoms of PMS, they both stop when your period begins. The hormonal changes that occur before your period cause both symptoms; hence, when your hormones begin returning to normal, the gas in your intestines begins fading and your body stops retaining water. Hence, as WeightWatchers explains, "Any weight that is gained is lost around the time of menstruation."
Snacking and Weight Gain
Hormonal changes can also cause heightened appetite, cause you to feel hungrier than usual and lead to increase in calorie consumption. Additionally, many people eat when they are stressed, irritable, tired or anxious. Because PMS hormones can cause or intensify these feelings, you might eat for emotional reasons more than usual. Binge eating, focusing on unhealthful foods or simply consuming more calories than you burn during this time can cause permanent weight gain.
Reduce Bloating and Cravings
Drink plenty of liquids because it keeps your body from retaining water. Ingesting water keeps the water flowing through your system. Eat complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, to stabilize your urge to eat. Minimize your salt intake, which induces or exacerbates bloating. Avoid alcohol, which slows your metabolism and can increase emotional eating. Sleep eight hours every night, and exercise daily. Exercise can reduce bloating because sweating helps release the extra water your body is retaining. Eating calcium-rich foods or even taking a calcium supplement can ease your cravings and help prevent bloating, according to Brown University. Diuretics can also prevent bloating and water retention.
Avoid Permanent Weight Gain
According to WeightWatchers, most women don't overeat much before or during menstruation. Also, your metabolism can increase slightly during this time, compensating for a small increase in calorie intake. Nevertheless, if you experience strong hunger cravings, carefully watch what you consume. Eat multiple small meals throughout the day to reduce cravings. Focus on whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Avoid high-carb, sweet foods.