Have you ever freaked out about how heavy you felt before a period only to have all the weight gain disappear after a few days? Like many other women, you were probably experiencing bloating, one of the most frustrating menstrual side effects.
Keep reading to discover how long period weight gain lasts and learn what you can do to stop it.
How Long Does Period Weight Gain Last?
It’s definitely annoying to realize your favorite pair of pants suddenly doesn’t fit right before a period, but fortunately, it never lasts too long.
For most women, period weight gain only lasts three to seven days. In rare cases, it may not happen at all or it may last as long as two weeks.
Period weight gain usually starts during the three to five days leading up to a period. It is part of the dreaded premenstrual syndrome that many women deal with.
Once your bleeding starts, your period weight gain will typically go away between one to three days later.
6 Causes of Period Weight Gain
There are all sorts of reasons you might be a bit heavier in the days leading up to your period.
- Hormonal changes make you crave sugary, high-carbohydrate foods (1).
- High carb intake and hormonal shifts lead to water retention.
- Increased amounts of gas in the gastrointestinal tract cause bloating.
- High progesterone levels during the premenstrual week lead to constipation.
- You might not feel like working out due to fatigue or cramps.
- Lower magnesium levels can increase your risk of weight gain.
Do you retain water on your period?
Some women think they just feel bad about their weight due to the mood swings associated with PMS, but research shows there is a definite boost in water retention during your period.
A fascinating study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology International Journal tracked fluid retention over the course of 765 menstrual cycles. This study concluded that women are more likely to have fluid retention during their period (2).
In general, women retain more fluid in the days leading up to their period, with an overall peak in fluid retention on the day their period starts.
Why does this happen? Doctors still aren’t positive, but it seems to have something to do with the sharp in progesterone and estradiol on the day your period starts.
How much can weight fluctuate daily?
There are several factors that can influence how much your weight shifts in a day. Of course the biggest is simply water weight.
Your weight can drop or rise by five to six pounds depending on how much water weight you are carrying.
Weight is also slightly influenced by digestive issues. Being gassy, eating a big meal, or not having a recent bowel movement can all make you carry around a few extra pounds.
Finally, your weight can fluctuate daily based on actual fat loss. Usually, you can only gain or lose about a quarter to half of a pound in a day.
How do I lose water during my period?
Since water retention is the biggest culprit of weight gain around your period, you probably want to know, “how do I get my body to quit holding onto water?”
There are all sorts of things you can do get rid of all the extra water:
- Staying hydrated by drinking enough water
- Cutting down on salt
- Reduce carbohydrate intake
- Taking diuretic medications
- Eating diuretics like grapes, celery watermelon, and cucumbers
- Getting hot enough to sweat out water weight
- Drinking green tea, coffee, or other natural diuretics
Do you weigh more when bloated?
So you definitely gain weight when you retain water, but what about when you are bloated? Many people use the term “bloat” to describe water retention, but these are actually two separate things.
Bloating usually happens whenever you have a buildup of gas in your stomach and intestines, and it only causes a small amount of weight gain. It is a very common symptom in the days leading up to your period, but it is very harmless (3).
Your stomach may feel so tight and full that you can barely button your favorite jeans, but if it is just gas buildup, your actual weight won’t shift much.
How to reduce water retention
You do need some water retention to stay alive and keep cells hydrated, but some people’s bodies hold onto way too much water.
The biggest thing you can do to reduce water retention is cut back on salt and carbs. Your body tries to maintain a certain ratio of water to carbohydrates and sodium, so it will retain extra water to process any carbs and salt you eat.
You can also reduce water retention by drinking more water. This keeps your body from triggering “dehydration alerts” that make it hold onto every drop of fluid you drink (4).
How to reduce bloating
Part of bloating is hormonal, so it cannot be entirely avoided. However, you can reduce bloating by eating the right diet.
Avoid high FODMAP foods like wheat, broccoli, beans, apples, and artificial sweeteners that can trigger gas.
Eat probiotics or digestive enzymes that help your body digest food more smoothly.
How to prevent weight gain and water retention during your period
To deal with the temporary water retention and bloating that happens on a period, pay careful attention to what you eat and drink. Stay hydrated and reduce salt and carb intake while you’re PMSing.
Finally, if all else fails, look into natural diuretics like green tea. These encourage your body to let go of the extra water it is holding.
In general, it is important to try fighting the hunger cravings and fatigue that come with your period. Sticking to your diet and exercise routine might be tough, but it’s the best way to avoid weight gain.