During periods, you must have experienced gaining a few pounds that go away after some days of bleeding. It is a physical symptom of PMS (premenstrual syndrome). PMS is common, and more than 90 percent of menstruators experience this.

The good news is there is no need to be panic about weight gain as it is normal and is just water weight, meaning it is temporary. Says Lauren Stretcher, MD clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the medical director of the Center for Sexual Medicine and Menopause at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
She says, “You retain a lot of fluid when your period comes, and then the weight goes away afterward". Except for gaining weight, you7 must have experienced additional symptoms - breast tenderness, breakouts, and mood swings. They all are unsavoury icing on the cake, which nobody likes.

Here we will look into some of the symptoms that cause weight gain during menstruation.

1. Experiencing tons of cravings, eating a lot: The increase in progesterone levels leads to a boost in your appetite, and you may find yourself eating a lot of calories. It is the sweet and salty stuff that you crave and does not leave you craving broccoli. The over intake of food filled with calories and carbs makes the body gain weight. Munching on salty and simple carbs, like chips or donuts, leads to fluid retention, which results in extra weight. Having chocolate or pizza to soothe yourself leads to gaining weight which stays until periods leaves (well, it will take a lot of pizza and ice cream to make you gain weight in a week). To lose weight, intake lots of water (keep hydrated) and avoid food with lots of calories and carbs.
2. Bloating is another hormonal issue: Bloating can be described as feeling tight or swollen in your stomach or other parts of your body. It can make your clothes feel tight and uncomfortable pounds. Bloating may start five days before your period and continue into the first few days of menstruation. The female sex hormone estrogen peaks during the latter part of the menstrual cycle, right before periods. And high levels of it leads the body to retain fluid indirectly, making you feel bloated and causing you to gain water weight. The estrogen decreases when the periods start. Another hormone - progesterone, also plays its role. It spikes up in the latter part of the cycle leading to water retention, water weight, and breast tenderness.
3. Not working out and going to the gym (just being a couch potato): Hitting the gym may be the last thing on your mind, and working up a sweat helps keep the body feel normal. A week before the period, estrogen and progesterone both increase which causes low endurance and fatigue that make us not exercise during periods. It can be uncomfortable to exercise as periods gets closer. Sweating helps in shedding the extra water weight, and if you are not feeling to have the sweaty session, it is alright to rest until the period leaves.
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4. Over intake of caffeine: During the premenstrual time, the surge in hormone may lead to temptation for caffeine. During periods, loading up on beverages feels refreshing because you feel so damn tired all the time. But caffeine can lead to introducing gastrointestinal issues— bloating and discomfort. “Some women are also often mistaken in thinking carbonated beverages are hydrating, "says Sra Twogood, MD, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.
5. Gastrointestinal issues are also to be blamed: Throughout the cycle, hormonal fluctuations can lead to gastrointestinal issues like constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. The discomfort and bloating in your stomach can make you feel like you have gained weight. The levels of the hormone progesterone rise in the body before the cycle begins, and act as a smooth muscle relaxant that slows down the spasms in the gastrointestinal tract. As a result, the digestive tract gets a bit packed. These digestive problems disturb eating patterns and can contribute to weight fluctuations.

How to alleviate period bloating?
It is important to remember that these changes are temporary and subdue after menstruation. You are not gaining actual weight, it is mainly just water weight due to hormones (and gastrointestinal issues, less exercise, and eating habits). It is fair to reduce the effect of bloating and not wait three to five days to have everything back to normal.
These are some of the ways to minimize weight gain during menstruation.

1. Be hydrated: It sounds counterintuitive but staying hydrated helps in combating fluid retention. Drink tons of water, probably eight glasses of water daily to flush it down your system.
2. Get moving: Despite the tiredness and cramps, if you can keep with the exercise for some 30 minutes daily before and during your periods, can help release endorphins and combat the hormonal effect. It also produces sweat and gets rid of excess water.
3. More magnesium in the diet: Taking rich magnesium foods like spinach and some supplements can help up magnesium. But, before taking any supplements, it is important to check with your doctor. Magnesium decreases bloating by contributing to the production of normal stomach acid. When stomach acid is low, there is increased bloating and gas.
4. More intake of citrus fruits: Citrus fruits contain vitamin C and fibers. That's because vitamin C is a natural diuretic, helping you pee more and shed some of that water weight. So, having citrus fruits like lemon, orange, and limes is helpful.
5. Hoard up healthy foods: Cravings can be dangerous if you are eating junk foods. To reduce the intake of unhealthy foods have a stock of nutritious foods. Try eating fruits or protein bars when a sugar craving strikes.
6. Avoid too salty foods: Salt contributes to fluid retention because it attracts water thus, becoming another culprit which contributes to bloating. Taking care and monitoring salt intake could help alleviate some of the period stomach issues.

It’s normal to gain about three to five pounds during your period. Generally, it will go away a few days after your period starts.
Though if you're experiencing rapid or persistent weight gain, it's best to speak with a doctor who can determine if there are other issues at play besides your period. To ease water retention, stay hydrated and reduce salt intake. Move around and get regular exercise. You can also take diuretics for water retention or magnesium for bloating.

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