If that time of month weren't annoying enough, you've probably noticed it comes with an unpleasant side effect on the scale. The good news is that this "weight gain" isn't all in your head, it's perfectly normal, and it's most likely temporary.

Starting about 5 days before your period, your estrogen and progesterone levels rapidly decrease. This signals your body that it's time for you to start menstruating, but, unfortunately, it also signals it to accumulate fluid, leading you to retain water.

Water retention affects over 90 percent of  menstruating women during their periods. Most women will gain 3 to 5 pounds, but in extreme cases you may gain as much as 10. However, this extra water weight should begin to disappear once your period starts.

To reduce your water retention, you can start by drinking more water! As counter-intuitive as it sounds, depriving your body of water will only cause it to hold onto even more of it. Make sure you're hitting your recommended 2-4 liters a day, and try to incorporate more foods with a high water content into your diet.

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You should also limit your salt intake, while increasing your intake of B vitamins, potassium, and magnesium, all of which are found in many green vegetables. You can also encourage your body to get rid of excess fluid by seeking out some natural diuretics; options include dandelion, parsley, hibiscus, garlic, green tea, asparagus, and fennel. Too much caffeine, on the other hand, can worsen fluid retention and bloating, which can look a lot like fat gain in the mirror.  

Altered progesterone levels during your period can also contribute to constipation, which can likewise lead to excess weight on the scales. If this is an issue for you, try adding more probiotics to your diet, increasing your fiber intake, or trying out our natural Pura-lax.

But a more worrisome and permanent source of period-related weight gain comes from the usual source; the food you eat. Your cycle lowers your hormone and serotonin levels and increases your body's resistance to insulin, leading you to crave more sugar, salt, and fat.

However, since refined carbs and salty food can worsen period-related bloating and fluid retention, going for that tempting bag of chips will not only interfere with your long-term weight loss but probably leave you feeling worse. Instead of indulging in your candy stash, try a protein shake with plenty of stevia, or a wholesome helping of fruit.

Lack of activity during your period can also contribute to weight gain, but that time of month is no excuse to skip your workout! Sweating it out during exercise can also help reduce water retention, and your lower hormone levels mean that you may actually perform better than usual during aerobic exercise. The endorphins released during exercise can also help reduce your cramps!

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Not feeling your best during your period is normal, but if your mood swings and fatigue are so severe that you have trouble completing your usual day-to-day activities or your food cravings are so severe that you find yourself binge eating, it's possible you could have a condition called pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder. If that time of the month is truly unendurable, it might be worth talking to your doctor.

Another piece of good news is that your commitment to weight loss may ultimately make your periods a little easier to deal with. Since estrogen is produced in body fat, weight loss can mean lower estrogen levels, which can in turn lead to a lighter monthly flow and fewer PMS symptoms.

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