How to control weight gain during your period

By Joan Salmon

Like every other thing related to menstruation, weight gain is not just a mental thing.

There are many psychological and physiological reasons that explain its occurrence as well as why this may go on way after the period is done. That said, with the necessary knowledge, this need not be an issue that cannot be dealt with.

When does it occur? “Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) starts one or two weeks before a period and is usually characterised by food craving, bloating, anxiety, and depression,” Dr Paul Ivan Kato, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Span Medicare explains adding: “All these result in binge eating and craving for salty and sugary foods. By the end of this phase and start of the period, one has gained weight.”

In addition to binge feeding, PMS induced bloating, constipation and indigestion leads to slowed metabolism. Therefore, most consumed food is stored as fat. That is worsened by the fact that during this period, women tend to avoid working out as they do not feel well. This will automatically lead to weight gain.

Towards the start of one’s period, Dr Kato says, “there are changes in hormonal levels, of concern here is the increased levels in oestrogen and low levels of progesterone. This allows for blood vessel dilatation and increased permeability, which ultimately lead to increased water retention in tissues (edema). However, these will revert once the period has passed.”

With all these changes in the body, there is weighty gain which must be dealt with before it becomes a threat to their health. One of the ways to deal with it is through exercises.

Quraish Golooba, a physiotherapist with Victoria Hospital, says despite these changes and the fact that some feel ill, there is need to exercise. He adds that while the intensity may reduce, it is encouraged to continue being active.
One of the benefits of exercising is that there is increased sweating, which causes one to lose water, hence dealing with edema. On average, one will lose somewhere between a half to two litres of fluid for every hour of exercises. When exercising, the body will shift most of the water into your muscles hence alleviating the swelling it causes. However, that is dependent on several factors such as heat. Nonetheless, it is important to take water while exercising.

Golooba advises that menstruation should not stop one from exercising as it will also help in cutting down the accumulated fat. It also helps to relieve menstrual related symptoms such as mood swings, headache and bloating.

Looking at the kind of exercises recommended when one is in their period, Robert Ddamulira, a fitness trainer, says any exercise can be done more so for those that have been exercising. If you have not been exercising, this will be a wakeup call for you to start getting active.

Robert Ddamulira, a fitness trainer, says with the various changes that your body will be going through, there is need to revise how you exercise. For example, he advises that you reduce the amount of time you work out because the body will also demand that you rest.

He adds that if you have been working out for one-and-a-half hours, you may cut the time down to one hour.

Depending on your condition during your periods, you may also change the type of exercise. For example, he says if you have been doing road work but feel weak to continue, you may substitute that with brisk walking.

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