Weight gain is a common complaint among women taking oral contraceptives. According to The Mayo Clinic, birth control pills do not contribute to weight loss or weight gain, but they can have side effects that create the illusion of weight gain. Mitigating these side effects and following a food and exercise plan can not only help you avoid weight gain, but also contribute to weight loss while on the pill.
Choose a birth control pill with the lowest amount of estrogen possible. Estrogen sometimes increases your fat cell's size, making you feel as though you've gained weight, but it doesn't actually add new fat cells to your body. Switching to pills with less estrogen, according to The Mayo Clinic, can help you avoid this effect. Your doctor will be able to recommend a pill with the appropriate level of estrogen based on your specific needs.
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Dink plenty of fluids. Oral contraceptives can cause water retention and bloating in some women. This water retention may account for a small amount of weight gain, according to The Mayo Clinic. Increasing your fluids will help flush excess water from your system and prevent more water retention. Once you establish the right fluid balance and maintain it, you will lose your excess water weight.
Monitor your caloric intake. Birth control pills increase appetite in some women. You may be eating more calories than you take in without realizing it, due to this increased appetite. Use a program like LiveSTRONG's Daily Plate to track the amount of calories you eat and compare it to the amount of calories you burn. Adjust your daily caloric intake or physical activity to strike the right balance for steady weight loss.
Take your pills at the same time each day for hormonal stability. As your hormones shift, your mood and sense of well-being shifts. This can cause fatigue and changes in appetite. It can also contribute to emotional eating or lack of energy to complete your exercise routine.
Exercise more. If your appetite increases while you take birth control pills, naturally the amount of food you will need to feel satisfied will also increase. In order to lose weight rather than gain, you'll need to increase your physical activity. Even if you don't experience increased appetite, adding regular exercise to your schedule, like a daily walk, will burn additional calories and support your weight loss efforts.
Lift weights to increase muscle mass. Muscle mass increases your metabolism and helps you naturally burn more calories through day-to-day activities. According to the Mayo Clinic, the pill has a testosterone-like effect on some women, enabling them to naturally or more easily gain muscle mass.