Yes it's true, over the course of your monthly cycle and especially before your period, your weight can fluctuate - sometimes as much as 10 pounds! Some women I've spoken to even have a separate wardrobe for the time around their periods. While fluctuating weight is common, it is not considered healthy or normal medically speaking. It can be a sign your hormones are out of balance, and something in your body is causing inflammation leading to water retention.
Of course, everyone wants to lose weight quickly, but there is no magic pill that can stabilize your weight on the low end and make you stay on the "thin" side all month. However, there are several ways that you can stabilize your weight around your period by balancing your hormones and reducing the inflammation. Here are my top seven fixes:
This is the most basic and easiest way to stabilize period hormones and it even jumpstarts weight loss! Drinking a lot of water and detoxifying herbal teas will help you flush all the harmful toxins (i.e. backlog of metabolic waste) from your body. Clearing the metabolic clutter can go a long way toward balancing your monthly hormones. Drink five glasses of water daily at the very least to keep your body hydrated. Eight 8oz. glasses or two liters of fluids per day is optimal.
Two additional hot weight loss tips for you: Drinking a lot of water and herbal teas, especially first thing in the morning and before meals, will curb your hunger and prevent you from binge eating. AND... Drinking loads of water or green tea before a workout is an easy and efficient way to burn twice the amount of calories that you usually do. Double win!
Your diet, your workout, and all the water that you consume will go to waste if you fail to get enough quality sleep. Your sleep time is when your body is in recover and repair mode! If you don't give it sufficient time to do so, how is your body supposed to process and integrate all the good things you do for it during the day? Not to mention, being well rested helps to keep your mood balanced and your mental game sharp - which means no cravings for a caffeine and sugar boost around 2-3pm, which is also good for the waistline. Make sure to give yourself a peaceful night of at least eight hours. Trouble sleeping? Read more here.
While considered relatively mild, caffeine is technically a poison to your body, so it must be metabolized via the liver. The waste product of your hormones must also be metabolized by the liver. If the liver is too gunked up dealing with the pots of coffee you are drinking through the month, it can't get to keeping on top of the hormones. The hormonal waste becomes clutter in your bloodstream and can lead to all kinds of confused cell signalling. The end result is painful, bloaty periods, and a wardrobe of "period pants".In real life though, 1 cup of coffee per day is reasonable and should not mess up your hormonal balance. Just aim for the hot lemon water at least once per day to benefit from it's liver cleansing effect. Drinking hot lemon water early in the morning before breakfast also helps fire up your metabolism, so it can help with overall weight loss too ;).
Cardio exercise that keeps your heart rate up is a great way to burn a lot more calories and jumpstart weight loss anytime of the month. Everyone knows that. But did you know that a mild to moderate workout is your best exit strategy for period pain and to move the bloating and water retention along? YUP! I know it seems like the last thing you will want to do, but the act of pumping your muscles and getting your bloodstream flowing goes a loooong way to flushing out the waste and getting your back to healthy balance, hormonally speaking. You can add exercises like planks, burpees, and jumping jacks to get your heart pumping.
Better than slathering everything in high cal butter, sugar, condiments or sauces is upping your intake of herbs and spices throughout the month. Herbs and spices add a ton of flavor with little to no calories and they fire up your metabolism - so it's a win for weight loss generally! But did you know that adding things like turmeric, cayenne, and cinnamon can all help with hormonal balance? In fact, many of the culinary herbs and spices have mild hormonal balancing effects. So don't be shy, use them liberally! They are nature's medicines!
As much as we want it to be, losing weight is not meant to be an quick thing; your body does not function that way. It took you some time to pack the weight on, it will take some time to get it off. These tips should be practiced along with a healthy diet and exercise for best results, but they may be able to give your body that little extra boost it needs to stay stable throughout your monthly cycle and even go a step further to power you into a steady and gentle weight loss mode.
I have to tell ya, quitting sugar for real is a necessary step if you find your weight fluctuating a lot throughout the month. If you are serious about solving this problem, this step is perhaps the most important one I have to share. Sugar has this domino effect on our monthly hormones via our gut flora and our insulin metabolism. If you are sweet treating yourself more often than you know you should, this really is a necessary step if you want your weight to stop bouncing around all month.
If you would like to learn more about my 30 Day ZERO Sugar Challenge which will help you kick sugar to the curb and stabilize your period-related weight fluctuations, just click here.
Of course, if you've already quit sugar and ongoing monthly weight fluctuations are a pesky problem for you and you want expert help, you can learn more about working with me one on one to address them, just click here.
Laura Nurse, BBA, ND
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