Why does PMS cause weight gain?
As with bloating, weight gain during PMS is mainly due to the body’s retaining more water.
The reason has been put down to fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone between ovulation and menstruation, a period lasting approximately two weeks known as the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.
In addition, some women find it more difficult to have regular bowel movements during this period. Retaining feces adds to the weight gain and certainly does not help symptoms of bloating already present.
One other possible cause of weight gain with PMS is an increase in food cravings. Hormonal changes during this time of the month send messages to the brain asking for an increased intake of sugar, which explains the chocolate cravings you get just before your period. More cravings, more weight gain.
How effective is exercise in relieving PMS symptoms?
Studies have shown that regular exercise can ease some of the pain and stress you may experience each month just before and during your period. So in the worst-case scenario, exercising will only make you healthier, fitter and slimmer!
What type of exercise is best and how much should I do?
Aerobic exercises are what you need. This doesn’t mean you have to join a gym or enroll in a step class, even though both are very good aerobic exercises. Aerobic exercise is the kind that raises your heart rate, so swimming, jogging, cycling, dancing and even taking a brisk walk are all suitable options.
Half an hour, three to four times a week is all it should take for you to see a difference. Some women do 4-5 kettlebell/bootcamp sessions a week and yes, they’ve noticed a difference in their mood (less irritable) and with cramping.
Yoga can also be helpful. A study was done to investigate the effects of 12-week yoga program on premenstrual symptoms in menstruating women in Taiwan. After the 12 weeks, women reported decreased use of analgesics during menstruation and decreases in the moderate or severe effects of menstrual pain, cramps and bloating.
How will it help?
Exercise is a great stress buster that boosts your metabolism and improves circulation, which in turn carries oxygen and nutrients to your cells, helping your whole system. Giving your body a good workout releases endorphins, causing a euphoric feeling that subsequently affects mood and pain perception. And there’s a bonus: endorphins also reduce your sugar cravings!
How long should it take to notice an effect?
As with any change made to the menstrual cycle, we recommend seeing how much better you feel after three months—that includes weighing yourself and taking body measurements each month. You might not notice the pounds or inches coming off, but your bathroom scale and tape measure sure will.
When I menstruate, I’m always tired. Can I still exercise?
Of course you can, but just be sensible about it: you may find that PMS takes its toll on you at certain times of the month, making you tired and wiping out any urge to exercise you might have had.
If this is the case for you, consider using Bio-Strath to support physical performance and stamina and speed up recovery time.
What else can I do to help myself?
Given that fluid retention is the most influential factor in weight gain during PMS, your primary focus should be avoiding it.
- Cut back on your salt intake, as sodium causes the body to retain water.
- Drink plenty of water. Although it seems counterintuitive to drink more water when you’re suffering from water retention, it’s really important to stay hydrated. If you don’t drink enough, your body thinks a drought is coming, so it stores the water it encounters rather than letting it pass through. It’s important to keep hydrated throughout the month, not just when your symptoms become apparent. And remember that fluid intake before, during and after exercise is paramount for athletic performance. An inadequate intake during exercise can lead to poor temperature regulation, muscle cramps, dizziness and other symptoms. If you’re not a big fan of plain water, adding a slice of lemon or lime will not only cheer the drink up, but has also been shown to reduce fluid retention.
- Foods high in potassium, such as bananas, can help reduce digestive bloating. Additionally, yogurt that is high in probiotics promotes effective digestive system function.
- Increasing your intake of magnesium may also help with this troublesome symptom.
So what are you waiting for? Go on, dust off your old gym clothes and exercise PMS into the history books. And remember: if you end up enjoying your new exercise routine just a little bit too much, give Absolüt Arnica gel a try!