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What’s happening during my Period that’s STOPPING my Weight Loss?

Updated: May 11, 2023

Having worked with hundreds of women, there is a moment in every journey where the topic of your Menstrual Cycle comes into play with your weight loss, muscle gaining, and health journey overall.

There’s nothing more frustrating than watching the scale continue to progress in the right direction for 3 weeks only to be brought to a dreaded halt within the first 3-7 days of getting your period.

Even worse, you may even see the scale go UP during this time.

This article is meant to help explain to you what’s happening without getting too technical and getting all biochemistry on you.

We will answer questions like;

  1. What is my body doing during my period?

  2. Am I gaining weight during my period?

  3. Why do I stop losing weight or lack motivation to workout during the heavy 3-7 days of my period?

  4. What can I do to prevent unnecessary Weight Gain during this time?

  5. What’s the best way to prepare myself for these moments that happen every single month?

Let’s go!

What is my body doing during my period?

Your cycle starts at the point of bleeding. Also known as - Menstruation Period.

Menstruation lasts 3-7 days. During this time your body has not found an egg to fertilize. So in response, your body gets rid of the uterine lining, otherwise known as the “Endometrium”. This is when and why most of the bleeding takes place.

The next step of your cycle is - Ovulation.

This is when you are most fertile. At this point your body re-thickens the uterine lining it just shed in preparation for the next opportunity to fertilize an egg.

About 14 days into your menstrual cycle an egg is released from your ovaries in anticipation to be fertilized within the new uterine lining. If the egg is fertilized you will become pregnant. If the egg is NOT fertilized your body will discard the uterine lining and repeat the cycle.

Hormones can get confusing. So for the sake of not overwhelming you with too much Biochemistry we are going to focus on 2 pairs of hormones.

Starting with FSH and LH that are released from the pituitary gland and send a signal to your ovaries that causes the stimulation of Estrogen and Progesterone.

Those are our 2 pairs we will be talking about in this teaching.

Estrogen is what’s released to help the uterine lining re-thicken to prepare for fertilization.

Progesterone is released in the body as the egg is released from the ovaries and likely peaks between day 20-24 of your cycle before dropping off if fertilization doesn’t take place.

So basically, Estrogen builds up the uterine lining and Progesterone helps create the placenta and maintains the uterine lining throughout pregnancy.

The 2 other hormones produced in your brain that basically get things going, and then steer the ship via negative feedback loops are called FSH & LH.

FSH helps mature the egg in the ovaries to be ready to move into the uterus. This process is what stimulates Estrogen.

LH causes the mature egg to release from the ovary and stimulates Progesterone.

So that’s a very brief and minimal biochemistry lesson in WHAT is happening to your body during your menstrual cycle.

Now to the question everyone wants to know…

Am I gaining weight during my period?

Short answer, and good news - NOT AT ALL!

Why is the scale going up?

Since your period is occurring on a regular basis on average about every 28 days, if you’ve been losing weight, or have in the past then you see you CAN lose weight with a menstrual cycle.

As you see in the answer to our last question, there is a very complex process your body takes in order to have the cycle happen on a regular basis. At certain points your body will need to prepare, adapt, and respond to all the hormone activity taking place in your body.

That means you WILL retain more water at certain times during your cycle while certain chemical reactions are taking place.

The beauty of this is that you can be rest assured NONE of what’s gained is body fat related.

It’s important to remember: With period weight gain specifically, you're not gaining actual fat. It's mostly just water weight thanks to your hormones (and the GI irregularity...and less-than-ideal eating and exercise habits).

Why do I stop losing weight, or lack motivation to workout during the 3-7 day menstruation period of my cycle?

If we take into consideration everything that goes into losing weight, especially losing specifically Body Fat, it helps put perspective to how you view this week of time your body “seems off”.

This hormonal reaction starts in your stress response part of the brain - The Hypothalamus.

Your Hypothalamus releases GNrH which signals to your Pituitary Gland to release FSH and LH. Starting your cycle’s series of events.

This being a stress response from your body means that your body needs to ADAPT in order to handle the stress it is undergoing.

We can agree, if your body is already dealing with stress from your menstrual cycle, then adding stress on top of that is either going to be last on your mind… Why?

Evolutionarily speaking, it wouldn’t make sense for your body to signal to you the urge to go under more stress when it’s already recovering a stress signal from your cycle.

Here’s what we tell clients, RELAX. This is where we encourage you that this is a journey, not a sprint. If you aren’t preparing to step on stage for a bodybuilding competition in 12 weeks, we can ALLOW your body 3-7 days to “feel off”.

During the time you feel the worst, you can definitely help make yourself feel better by doing some form of exercise for 30 minutes a day, preferably a mix of resistance training & cardio. It’s important during this time to remember you will NOT be at peak performance.

We suggest simply lowering your standard for yourself during that time and know that you aren’t LOSING ground, you're just staying patient and letting your body take care of other mechanisms in your body.

What can I do to prevent unnecessary Weight Gain during this time?

The elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about is the emotional rollercoaster and craving city your menstrual cycle can cause.

10/10 times you are gaining weight during this time that affects your long term weight loss by over consuming calories.

There’s nothing to be ashamed about in talking about this. It’s a real problem that any woman we‘ve ever worked with struggles with.

But, if we’re honest with ourselves during these times of struggle, do we use our period as an excuse to indulge in Russell stover chocolates, potato chips, and high calorically dense foods?

Again, no shame, and certainly no judgement. But you are the only one who can determine if you are making those decisions or not.

If you ARE making the decision to be more lenient with your diet around that time of the month, and taking advantage of the excuse of craving chocolate and chips and eating those things, it is very likely that you are consuming more calories than you are outputting during however long you choose to be lenient. Consuming more calories than you are burning is the recipe to gain weight.

If you are NOT making those decisions (even with the urge still present), you can absolutely be rest assured you aren’t gaining problematic weight. That’s the secret.

If you are in pursuit of a certain goal weight or have specific aesthetic goals, you need to make the decision when you embark on that journey that you are going to fight the urges.

A lot of that has to do with preparation. But that’s another topic for another day! We’ll give a few suggestions in the next question.

What’s the best way to prepare myself for these moments that happen every single month?

The beautiful thing about your cycle happening every 28 days is that you can build a system that helps you navigate through the certain times you feel the worst and know when to hit the gas pedal when you feel great, and when to hit the brakes when you’re struggling.

The system we use with clients at NOExcuses is tracking biofeedback markers in their committed client tracker. This gives us input on everything you could be feeling that’s caused by hormonal changes in your body.

The things we track for biofeedback is; Mood, Gym Performance,Soreness, Sleep Quality, Energy, Libido, Hunger Levels, Cravings, Digestion

As always, we are here to see you succeed and help you overcome any excuses along the way.

If you need help bringing structure to your schedule, eating habits, fitness programs, please reach out to us and talk to one of our coaches to help build a simple game plan tailored specifically to you ASAP!

You can book your FREE strategy call by clicking here.

What we love most about making these articles is being able to offer a solution for helping you reach your health and fitness goals. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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