Weight And The Menstrual Cycle
The scale can be your best friend but on the other hand it can also be your worst enemy.
Every single woman I have spoken to is concerned about their weight. Saying they are concerned is likely an understatement. Most have a scale in their homes and weigh themselves daily. Sometimes multiple times throughout the day.
When it comes to weighing yourself, yes, it is it a great way to track progress, but women need to be careful when weighing themselves every time they see a scale.
For a woman weight is not always consistent. Why? The Menstrual cycle. It can have an influence on weight from 1-6 lbs. throughout the length of the cycle.
In a “normal” cycle (which will vary from woman to woman, or in the same woman from month to month) and who are not on birth control, the first half of the cycle is the day you start your period until the day you ovulate which is approximately 14 days long. This is called the follicular phase. During this phase estrogen levels are dominant and progesterone is low. Right before you ovulate there is a big spike in estrogen. This causes the egg to release, but it also causes water retention which causes a weight gain. After ovulation, the luteal phase starts, estrogen drops, and water retention releases and weight should return to normal. Then progesterone will slowly start to increase, estrogen rejoins progesterone half way through this next phase and water retention again increased before you begin your cycle again which means you again, gain weight. I want to add here that women who are on birth control may not be subjected to the same weight fluctuations, and this depends on the type of birth control being used.
So what does this mean for the scale? It means that weight fluctuates throughout the entire cycle. Gain weight, lose weight, gain weight, lose weight. If you are a person who constantly tracks their weight imagine how frustrating this may be. Not to mention there are nutritional factors like sodium which can also cause water retention. It’s enough to drive a person crazy!
So how do we solve this?
Make sure to weigh yourself the same day of the month every month, at the same time of day, and preferably in the morning when you have empty stomach. Remember that after you eat food and drink water that it can influence your weight. Also weight yourself naked. You’d be surprised how much different clothes weigh.
If you really want to weigh yourself more than once a month you can but make sure you compare the same weights to the same times in your cycle. For example, if you weigh yourself day 2, day 10 and day 20 of your cycle, make sure to weigh yourself day 2, day 10 and day 20 of your next cycle and compare those numbers to each other in order to keep consistency.
Finally, rather than being a prisoner to the moment and panicking or rejoicing when you see a number on the scale, keep track of the trends you notice or even look at your weight as a fluctuating or rolling average rather than a hard number.
Remember sometimes there are other factors behind the number a scale shows you. Don’t panic if you see a number you don’t like. Step back for a second and think about what could be affecting it. That is much more productive than panicking and making a poor exercise or dietary decision.