- What causes an absence of menstruation?
- Irregular Periods, Weight Gain, Infertility: Could PCOS Be To Blame?
- PCOS and Hormones
- PCOS Symptoms and Diagnosis
- Nutrition and PCOS
- The PCOS Diet
- Get Help
- #1 – The Scientific Reason:
- #2 – The Practical Reason:
- Need more Hormone Help?
- Athletic Amenorrhea: Women at Risk
- Factors Leading To Amenorrhea
- Changes in the Body
- Directions and Suggestions
- Women & Body Fat
- Fitness & menstrual health: How to stay lean, healthy, and fit without losing your period.
- Understanding the menstrual cycle
- Energy balance and menstruation
- Why is hormonal health important?
- The brain bone’s connected to the… thigh bone
- But wait…men are at risk too
- Energy deficit…or nutrient deficiency?
- Other causes of amenorrhea
- Fixing what’s wrong
- What you can do
- Eat, move, and live… better.©
- The Link Between Weight and Menstrual Cycles
- Five reasons your period came early, according to doctors
- 5 Reasons You Experience Weight Gain During Your Period
- 1. Fluid retention
- 2. Constipation
- 3. Food intake
- 4. PMS
- 5. PCOS
- Why You Gain Weight on Your Period
- 3. Staying on Plan
- 4. Listening to Your body
- You Got This
- Research proves cycle syncing helps you slim down
- 13 Jun Research proves cycle syncing helps you slim down
- Here’s why I started tracking my periods and you should too. It helps lose weight fast
What causes an absence of menstruation?
Natural causes of amenorrhea include pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause. In these cases, there is no need to see a doctor.
When a person has regular menstrual bleeding, this means that the ovaries, uterus, hypothalamus, and pituitary gland are working well.
The absence of menstruation can indicate a problem with one of these parts of the body, or there may be an abnormality of the genital tract. Lifestyle factors, an underlying health condition, and some medications can also cause amenorrhea.
Possible causes of an absence of menstruation include:
1. Birth control
Some birth control pills may cause missed periods or the complete absence of menstruation.
This can occur in the first few months of taking a new pill or if a person does not take any placebo pills or have a pill-free week each month.
Some of the other birth control methods, such as the hormonal intrauterine device (IUD), implant, and injection can also result in amenorrhea.
2. Nutritional deficiencies
Malnutrition may affect how the hypothalamus and pituitary gland function, which can lead to amenorrhea.
3. Low body weight
Having a low body weight can also prevent the hypothalamus and pituitary gland from functioning correctly. This can lead to a type of amenorrhea known as functional hypothalamic amenorrhea.
Stress can affect hormone levels in the body, and it is another cause of functional hypothalamic amenorrhea. People with this type of amenorrhea also have higher rates of depression and anxiety.
5. Excessive exercise
Excessive exercise is the third cause of functional hypothalamic amenorrhea. Some research estimates that half of the women who exercise regularly experience minor menstrual disorders.
6. Eating disorders
Having an eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia, may cause a person’s periods to stop. This absence of menstruation is usually due to a nutritional deficiency or very low body weight.
7. Excessive weight gain
Rapidly gaining weight can cause a hormonal imbalance, which can lead to temporary amenorrhea.
8. Mental health medications
Some antidepressants and mood stabilizers may affect how the hypothalamus and pituitary gland work. If they are not producing the right levels of hormones, a person’s periods may stop.
9. Polycystic ovary syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects 6–8 percent of women worldwide.
PCOS causes a range of symptoms including:
- irregular periods
- excessive hair growth
- difficulty getting pregnant
- weight gain
PCOS may also lead to hyperandrogenemia, which is when a female has high levels of male hormones. A 2017 study of 266 women with PCOS found that over 78 percent of them had hyperandrogenemia.
Hyperandrogenemia may affect menstrual cycles and lead to amenorrhea.
10. Premature ovarian failure
Premature ovarian failure is when the ovaries stop working correctly before the age of 40.
This condition may lead to missed periods. However, it is not the same as early menopause, which is when menstruation stops completely.
11. Turner syndrome
Turner syndrome is a genetic disorder. People with this condition may have underdeveloped ovaries and an absence of menstruation.
12. Genital tract defects
Genital tract defects are structural problems that can cause an absence of menstruation or make it difficult for the menstrual blood to exit the vagina.
The most common female genital tract defect is an imperforate hymen, which is a hymen with no opening that closes off the vagina and does not allow blood to leave it during a period.
13. Pituitary gland problems
The pituitary gland releases the hormones that control the menstrual cycle. Issues with the pituitary gland, including those below, may lead to amenorrhea:
- a pituitary gland tumor
- postpartum necrosis, which is the premature death of cells in the pituitary gland after pregnancy
- sarcoidosis, which is an inflammatory condition
Radiation therapy may also affect cells in the pituitary gland and cause amenorrhea.
Irregular Periods, Weight Gain, Infertility: Could PCOS Be To Blame?
PCOS can cause a variety of frustrating symptoms for women of childbearing age, including weight gain and irregular periods.
Most women have been frustrated with their weight at some point in their lives; it’s common to want to lose a few pounds here and there. But for some women, weight gain is a side effect of a serious condition known as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This condition affects 1 in 10 women between the ages of 15 and 45 and, if untreated, can lead to an increased risk for serious health conditions.
PCOS and Hormones
Women with PCOS produce higher-than-normal levels of male hormones, called androgens, from their ovaries.
Testosterone is an example of a male hormone. Elevated insulin is the trigger that leads to the production of androgens, and although the exact cause for this is unknown, research suggests family history could be a factor.
Insulin is a hormone that regulates the body’s ability to metabolize, or “burn off,” fat and carbohydrates. (Insulin is actually quite complex and not easily summed up in one sentence, but for purposes of this blog post I’ll just leave it at that.) Simply put, this hormonal imbalance can cause a variety of frustrating and very serious side effects.
PCOS Symptoms and Diagnosis
Ashleigh Sellman, a registered dietitian with UVA’s Nutrition Counseling Center, says that because symptoms are so varied and sometimes characteristic of other health conditions, many women don’t even know they have PCOS. For example, one woman with PCOS might have irregular periods but not be overweight, while another woman finds it nearly impossible to lose weight but still gets a period every month.
Here is what some PCOS symptoms may look like:
• Irregular, absent and/or heavy periods
• Difficulty becoming pregnant and increased risk of miscarriage
• Weight gain and difficulty losing weight despite diet and exercise
• Insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes and other health complications
• Fatigue, feeling run-down or just feeling “off”
• Intense cravings for carbohydrates
• Tiny cysts that grow on the ovaries
• Male pattern hair growth on the chest, face, back, lower abdomen, fingers and toes
• Hair loss, often from the top of the head
Nutrition and PCOS
Although there is no “cure” for PCOS, Sellman says nutrition plays a key role in restoring the body’s hormonal balance and regulating insulin production.
Sellman offers small group workshops where women with PCOS can share their experiences and struggles with each other. Held at the Nutrition Counseling Center at Northridge, these workshops include in-depth discussions about the biology behind PCOS and insulin, why it causes weight gain and other side effects and how patients can adjust their eating habits to help decrease insulin levels. Sellman explains why women with PCOS crave carbohydrates so intensely and why they feel so tired and run down. Each participant leaves with a booklet of information tailored to her own unique needs. Workshops are open to anyone who has been diagnosed with PCOS, or the parent of a child with the condition.
“In patients with PCOS, moderate weight loss has been shown to significantly improve symptoms and regulate menstrual function, ovulation and insulin production,” she says. “Getting symptoms under control also increases a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant, which can be a huge source of relief for women who’ve been struggling for years to start a family.”
Sellman adds it’s important to remember that not all women with PCOS are overweight. The same nutrition guidelines apply to all women with PCOS, not just those who are overweight. She also stresses that there is not a “right diet” for PCOS because everyone’s body, history and genetics are different. But, there are a few key concepts that seem to be important for everyone.
The PCOS Diet
In general, a diet similar to that for patients with type 2 diabetes is usually recommended for PCOS patients. This includes:
• Eating breakfast within one hour of waking
• Having small frequent meals and snacks every 3-5 hours
• Limiting (or eliminating) refined, processed carbohydrates like white bread and packaged or processed foods
• Replacing refined carbohydrates with complex carbohydrates such as whole grains
• Increasing fiber intake
• Avoiding sweetened beverages
• Eating protein with complex carbohydrates at every meal or snack
• Incorporating omega 3 fatty acids (the healthy fat) from sources like fish and flaxseed oil, or supplements if you’re not eating these foods
• Eating more non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, carrots and greens
This is just a snapshot of the recommended diet and, as always, it’s important to talk with a doctor and work with a dietitian before dramatically changing your diet or lifestyle.
If you think you may have PCOS, ask your doctor to refer you to an endocrinologist. If you want to learn more about dietary and activity recommendations for women with PCOS, please call the UVA Nutrition Counseling Center at 434.243.4749 where you can meet individually with Ashleigh Sellman or attend one of her nutrition workshops.
While this can sounds like a bummer, there’s also a big opportunity here for changing the game for yourself!
When you understand these 2 key aspects behind why your hormonal imbalances are contributing to your weight issues, you’ll shift your mindset and learn how to shift the pattern!
#1 – The Scientific Reason:
At the root of all period problems, there’s an imbalance with estrogen. Most often, estrogen dominance is in play, meaning that your estrogen levels are way too high in comparison to progesterone. In addition to causing the period problems, high estrogen levels are connected to water retention and weight gain.
Bottom line: You need to get your estrogen levels balanced in order to really be able to lose weight.
#2 – The Practical Reason:
Aside from all the hormonal implications occurring behind the scenes, let’s be honest –
When your hormones are out of whack and your period is suffering, you are practically not able to implement any kind of weight-loss routine. You might start out with noble efforts in the beginning of your cycle, but once that second half of your cycle starts – the luteal, pre-menstrual phase – you are doomed to failure!
If your period is symptomatic, you’re going to crave sweets and salty stuff and all the things you don’t want to be eating for weight loss. You’ll also be way too tired to work out, so any exercise efforts will fail.
Bottom line: consistency is a big challenge when your hormones are not balanced. Address your period problems first, and the weight loss will come easily.
Need more Hormone Help?
If you’re needing some health upgrading, it’s time you started you looking into what’s going on with your hormones.
I’ve designed a 4 day hormone detox and evaluation to help you understand exactly what’s out of whack and how you can start getting back to balance so that your hormones no longer have to suffer.
to get your FREE detox and evaluation!
Athletic Amenorrhea: Women at Risk
There is highly regarded speculation that in some way the female body “senses’ when energy reserves are inadequate to sustain a pregnancy and thereby ceases ovulation to prevent conception. Research has defined a level of body fat of 11 percent as the “critical level” for the onset of menstruation. This level varies plus or minus 4 percent in many healthy, active females. During the past four years there has been an abundance of studies indicating a high incidence of menstrual irregularities among women athletes.
Evidence has demonstrated that chronic, high-intensity exercise stimulates profound changes in the menstrual cycle. At the same time, an increase in the level of testosterone in the blood stream of women who engage in strenuous physical activity has been noted. It is theorized that the mass of body fat relative to lean body weight is a critical factor in the onset of secondary amenorrhea. This condition is clinically defined as the absence or suppression of menstruation from any cause other than pregnancy or menopause.
The term amenorrheic refers to women whose menstrual cycles occur at intervals of longer than 90 days, and is the only clinical symptom to indicate a disruption of the reproductive system. Female athletes generally have a percentage of body fat lower than 20 percent, and competitive body builders can reach as low as 10 percent. The average non-athletic woman’s body fat varies between 22-28 percent, with a level of above 30 percent considered obese.
Evidence has demonstrated that chronic, high-intensity exercise stimulates profound changes in the menstrual cycle.
Factors Leading To Amenorrhea
Some of the factors which lead to the irregular occurrence of the menstrual cycle, include the following:
- Low body fat (below 12 percent).
- Early pre-pubertal athletic training.
- Decreased hypothalamic activity.
- Intensity of training regimens.
- Reproductive maturity.
- Stress (mental as well as physical).
- Diet, (a high protein, low-carbohydrate diet can disrupt menstrual cycle).
- Anabolic steroid usage: the Influx of male hormones, whether synthetic (Anavar, Deca-Durabolin, etc.) or testosterone, can wreck havoc on a woman’s body.
- Severe exercise (heavy weight training or long-distance running).
Changes in the Body
There are several changes that occur in the female who is experiencing amenorrhea because of strenuous exercise. These include a decrease in ovarian function and metabolic and hormonal changes (the ratio of estrogens to androgens in the body).
It is known that Luteinizing hormone (LH) and Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), both of which are involved in the onset of ovulation, increase in concentration in the blood before exercise. Critical changes are taking place in the hypothalamus, and the pulse frequency of the gonadotrophin-releasing hormone is altered. All this activity is related to the changes in insulin receptor sensitivity in the hypothalamus. The potential for long-term effects on women who experience chronic amenorrhea are as follows:
A lower bone-mineral content, which can lead to reduced bone mass and the earlier onset of osteoporosis.
The potential for a female athlete’s inability to become pregnant. Studies show that women runners who develop amenorrhea have decreased spinal bone mineral content. The magnitude of the loss appears to be related to the duration of the amenorrhea.
Research at the University of California, San Francisco, was conducted to determine whether the bone loss was gradual, as in the aging process, or rapid at first and then slower, as in menopause. Bone loss (osteoporosis) makes bones easily susceptible to breaking.
One Probable Cause: Low Levels Of Calcium.
Lowered calcium levels have been found in women who restrict their carbohydrate! Caloric intake while increasing their protein intake. Research has demonstrated that high protein intake is related to lower calcium levels. Estrogen levels drop dramatically when a woman ceases to menstruate.
Forty women runners, ranging in age from 18 to 40 had their bone mineral content checked. These athletes had been experiencing amenorrhea for six months up to ten years. Those who had been amenorrheic for less than three years lost approximately 4.2 percent of their bone content during the year. The longer-term amenorrheic women lost an insignificant amount of bone. This study concluded that significant bone loss occurs during the first years of amenorrhea and tapers off in the chronic amenorrheic athlete.
It is important to stress that women athletes should consult their physicians immediately if menstruation ceases. In order to prevent irreversible bone damage, it is important to follow the directions and suggestions below.
Directions and Suggestions
The potential for side effects for women experiencing amenorrhea as a result of strenuous exercise has been found to be more pronounced in the leaner and lighter athletes. Pharmacological treatments can include prescribing Clomiphen citrate, a non-steroidal anti- estrogen drug that acts to stimulate the ovaries or estrogen replacement.
This type of intervention should be used on the advise of a gynecologist or endocrinologist, as these drugs do have potential side effects. A more sensible approach to reversing an irregular menstrual cycles (oligo-menorrhea) or a complete cessation of menses (amenorrhea) would be to follow some basic tips. Try to cycle your training by using lesser intensity during the off- season and allowing the body to return to its critical fat level (approximately 13 percent) during the off -season.
Women & Body Fat
Woman have more body fat than men–about five percent more. By nature, a woman’s body is developed to protect her and a potential fetus. As a result, women have more enzymes for storing fat and fewer enzymes for burning fat. Additionally, the estrogen women have activates fat storing enzymes and causes them to multiply.
Women experience more changes in hydration levels than men because of their menstrual cycle, and this can affect body fat measuring, particularly using the BIA method. Retaining fluid may also cause weight to fluctuate day-to-day during this period causing additional variation in the body fat percentage.
Female users of BIA products should be aware of their natural monthly body cycles.
To establish a baseline for monitoring body fat, many women find it useful to chart their readings every day for a month. Afterward, monitoring at regular intervals can anticipate monthly fluctuations.
Hormonal changes due to pregnancy or menopause may also cause water retention and variations in measuring. Changes in hydration levels can also be due to food, caffeine or alcohol consumption, strenuous exercise, stress or illness, or the taking of prescription drugs.
To successfully monitor progress, women should remember to compare weight and body fat percentage measurements taken under the same conditions over a period of time. Pay attention to fluctuations caused by menstruation. And stay within the Women’s–not the Men’s–Healthy Body Fat Range!
Fitness & menstrual health: How to stay lean, healthy, and fit without losing your period.
Fit women often lose their menstrual period when training hard or dieting to lose fat. While some think it’s no problem, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
In today’s article we explore why losing your period can be a negative thing. We also share some tips on staying lean and fit while maintaining your hormonal health.
Maryann is young, active, and (apparently) healthy.
She eats a self-described “clean” diet. She weight trains twice a week, and does about two hours of cardio four or five days a week.
A year ago, at age 27, she stopped getting her periods.
She didn’t mention it to her trainer. And it never occurred to her to consult a doctor.
In fact, secretly, she felt relieved. After all, she didn’t want to get pregnant.
Besides, dealing with her monthly cycle had become a hassle. It interfered with her exercise program. And the weight fluctuations played with her mind.
So…no period, no problem. Right?
Understanding the menstrual cycle
The menstrual cycle is a series of changes women’s bodies go through when preparing for the possibility of getting pregnant.
Here’s how it works…
Every month, one of the ovaries releases an egg. (This process is called ovulation.)
At the same time, body-wide, hormonal changes prepare the uterus for pregnancy.
To begin with, a hormone called gonadotropin releasing hormone (GRH) is sent from the hypothalamus to the pituitary gland.
This cellular cross-talk then triggers the pituitary to release two other hormones: follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH).
These hormones then travel to the ovaries and tell them to make estrogen and progesterone.
Of course, the amount produced depends on the which phase of the menstrual cycle one is in (i.e. follicular vs. luteal).
If ovulation takes place and the egg is not fertilized, the lining of the uterus sheds through the vagina. And this is what most people think of as a “period”.
Here’s a cool visual of the process.
Energy balance and menstruation
Back to Maryann…what went wrong with this normal process?
(And why does this happen to so many female exercisers?)
In simple terms, a woman’s body is extremely sensitive to energy fluctuations.
When a woman is eating a restricted diet (especially if she’s fasting or skipping meals), or she’s exercising strenuously for hours every day, her body recognizes this negative energy balance as a threat to her survival.
So it shuts down “non-essential” body processes such as reproduction. In short, she becomes infertile. The scientific term for this is hypothalamic amenorrhea.
The role of leptin
Girls now get their first period (aka menarche) earlier than in our grandparents’ generation.
This may be because, on average, kids are heavier than in the past.
But to understand that, you need to recognize the relationship between the hormone leptin and the hypothalamus.
Body fat produces leptin. So, when a child gains enough weight, there is a threshold amount of leptin produced to signal the hypothalamus to kick off the first menstrual cycle.
Since kids are becoming heavier sooner than they used to, their periods are also starting sooner.
The opposite is true for women who get too lean or who restrict calories too much.
Getting too lean decreases the amount of leptin circulating in the body. This, in turn, decreases the activity of the hypothalamus.
Since Maryann was restricting calories, exercising almost every day, and losing body fat, this combination of factors could have triggered the loss of her period.
The role of stress
As discussed, women’s physiological sensors are highly tuned in to sensing deficits. Whether in energy balance, essential nutrients, or body fat, women’s bodies quickly respond to deficiencies.
The “deficit setpoint” will vary from woman to woman.
Some women can be naturally leaner, can work out with higher volume and intensity, or can eat fewer calories while staying hormonally healthy.
Other women’s systems are more sensitive to any perceived restriction.
Of course, stress — of any kind — will make things worse.
For many female athletes (or even just active women), the demands of training and competing, pressure to succeed, and other normal life stressors such as jobs, school, finances, relationships, etc. can combine with nutritional and physiological stressors to shut the system down.
The same thing can happen when the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), aka our “fight-flight” system, is overtaxed. For instance:
- if we rely too much on stimulants such as caffeine
- if we don’t calm down and recover often or deeply enough, giving our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), aka our “rest and digest” system, time to activate
- if we’re constantly in self-critical, “gotta do it all myself”, control-freak or perfectionist mode
- if we don’t get enough quality sleep
- if we skip meals or fast too restrictively or too often (which amps up our stress hormone production)
- if we beat the heck out of ourselves with too many, too-demanding high-intensity workouts (such as Crossfit, MMA conditioning, or sprint intervals)…
…then our stress hormones are always on “high alert”, telling our bodies that threats lurk around every corner, and it’s not safe to reproduce.
Since many female athletes or recreational exercisers can also be driven, high-achieving people who seek out stress and challenge, and push themselves to be ever-better…well, it’s sometimes the perfect storm.
Why is hormonal health important?
Unless you’re planning on starting a family, infertility and losing your period might seem like no big deal. In fact, it might seem a nice break from the hassle of having periods.
Not so fast.
Remember that your period isn’t just about pregnancy. Rather, it’s a side effect of normal hormonal health.
In other words, losing your period (or having significant irregular periods) means that something is “off” hormonally.
Think of your period as a dashboard indicator light. When you lose it, the light starts blinking: Hormonal health alert! And you ought to pay attention.
In the case of hypothalamic amenorrhea, those messages we talked about earlier — from the hypothalamus to the pituitary to the ovaries — significantly diminish. And that means the production of hormones like estrogen and progesterone is dangerously reduced.
Why is that a problem? Your body needs these hormones for bone strength.
(They’re also required to keep you feeling healthy, energetic, and even-keeled psychologically.)
In fact, because of the link between estrogen, progesterone, and bone health, many fit young women who lose their periods end up with weaker bones than their eighty year old grandmothers.
And yes, that includes the ones like Maryann, who regularly perform weight-bearing exercise, and whose diets are rich in calcium and vitamins D and K.
Neither strength exercise or proper nutrition is enough to make up for hypothalamic amenorrhea.
The brain bone’s connected to the… thigh bone
Unfortunately, a lot of young female athletes aren’t aware of their body’s needs for estrogen, so when they lose their periods as part of their training, they simply take it for granted.
In fact, the first issue that often drives women like Maryann to the doctor is not the loss of menstruation. It’s a mysterious pain in one of their thighs.
The cause of that pain — as their doctors can easily discover with a little investigation — is a stress fracture.
This happens so often that there’s even a name for the syndrome: the Female Athlete Triad. (Shortens to FAT. Which is ironic, because most of these patients are anything but.)
Core symptoms of the Female Athlete Triad are:
- amenorrhea (being without a period for three months)
- decreased bone mineral density
- low energy availability (including disordered eating)
But the fun doesn’t stop there.
Estrogen and progesterone — along with other sex steroid hormones such as testosterone — have wide-ranging effects throughout our bodies.
So if your hormones are disrupted, you might also experience:
- fatigue and low energy
- disrupted sleep (e.g. trouble falling or staying asleep, including the dreaded 3 AM “blast out of bed”)
- hair loss (or for some women, facial hair growth)
- cold hands and feet
- skin problems like dry skin or acne flareups
- weight changes and changes to where you put on body fat (e.g. more accumulating around your middle)
- slow injury healing; more inflammation
- anxiety / OCD, low self-esteem and/or depression
- elevated carotene in the blood
- orthostatic hypotension
- electrolyte irregularities
- vaginal dryness or thinning of tissues
- bradycardia (slower than normal heart rate)
- chronic pain (even if it’s just a general achiness or soreness)
- changes in digestion (such as constipation or bloating)
- changes to your breast size or shape (which you’d probably notice as bras not quite fitting right all of a sudden)
I can’t tell you how many times a young female athlete has come into my clinic complaining of thigh pain and, surprise, no periods. Further exploration usually reveals a pattern of restrictive eating or excessive exercise. Not to mention many of these other symptoms.
It’s a real shame. Because along with their periods, these young women are losing the very thing that matters to them most: Their health.
But wait…men are at risk too
Although the syndrome may be called the “female athletic triad,” males are not immune to a similar phenomenon.
Remember the story of my client, Jason? A low calorie diet combined with high stress spelled serious exhaustion for this otherwise healthy personal trainer.
Just like in women, when a man’s energy availability is chronically low, his hormonal health is at risk.
In Jason’s case, this showed up as a thyroid problem. We often see testosterone plummeting too. The same hypothalamus – pituitary – ovary/testis link is the culprit. It’s the same disruption pattern.
So if you’re a guy, please don’t think this article is irrelevant for you.
In fact, you should be especially cautious. After all, you don’t have that obvious signal — a missed period — to warn you that you’re at risk.
Which is why we all need to keep energy in balance or health will suffer.
Energy deficit…or nutrient deficiency?
While energy deficits are probably the most common cause amenorrhea in female athletes — and low thyroid hormone/testosterone production in men — they’re not the only cause.
Vitamins and minerals
Precision Nutrition’s Dr. John Berardi has worked with several fitness / figure competitors who lost their menstrual period while preparing for a contest.
After introducing a few vitamin and mineral supplements, their periods returned.
Of course, negative energy balance and nutrient deficiency are intimately connected. If you’re not getting enough food overall, you’re probably also missing out on specific micronutrients.
What surprised Dr. Berardi was the way these athletes responded to vitamin and mineral supplementation alone (without additional calories).
“I was amazed when we experimented with this. We tested removing and reintroducing the multvitamin/multimineral a few times. When the vitamins and minerals were in, periods returned. When they were out, menstruation stopped.”
This suggested to him that maybe, at least some of the time, energy deficit isn’t the problem so much as is nutritional deficiency.
In the Precision Nutrition Coaching program, the PN Team has also noticed that adding a handful of slow-digesting carbohydrates to most meals also helps, as does making sure to get enough carbohydrates post workout.
Many health-conscious women restrict carbohydrates, particularly starchy or sweet carbs (such as potatoes or bananas), believing that carbohydrates are “bad” or that low-carbohydrate diets are “good” for everyone.
The result is the same: hormonal disruption, amenorrhea, and a physiological stress response to what the body thinks is deprivation.
There may be a good reason for carb cravings in the luteal (aka premenstrual) phase of the menstrual cycle: Carbohydrates may serve a physiological need in women that we don’t fully understand yet.
With that said, the idea of specific micronutrient deficiencies — or even a link between carbohydrate intake and amenorrhea — is only a hypothesis. But it’s definitely food for thought.
Other causes of amenorrhea
Don’t ignore a series of missed periods. Along with nutritional deficiencies and energy imbalance, you could be dealing with quite a few serious underlying issues.
- polycystic ovary disease (PCOS)
- thyroid problems
- uterine scarring
- pituitary tumours
- premature menopause
Not to scare you or anything, but this is why it’s so important to see your doctor if you stop getting your periods. Even if you don’t want to get pregnant.
Fixing what’s wrong
So what happened with Maryann?
She cut down on a bit on her cardio training. (She didn’t eliminate it entirely, of course). She also started eating 500-1000 additional calories each day.
Within a few months, she did gain a few pounds. However, because we replaced some of her cardio with weights, most of that gain was lean.
Either way, not only did we improve her strength and lean mass, without causing fat gain, we also improved her hormonal health, reducing her risk for other health problems.
What you can do
If you’re a health conscious woman who works out and eats well take note: Losing your period isn’t something to take lightly.
If your menstrual cycle becomes irregular or stops altogether:
- Make sure you’re meeting your body’s energy needs.
- Increase calories or reduce exercise by a little bit.
- Ensure you’re getting enough rest.
- Consider taking a high quality vitamin/mineral supplement.
- Consider adjusting your carbohydrate intake to consume a handful of slow-digesting carbs at most meals. (And depending on your athletic needs, maybe even more.)
- Check your head. Mindset matters. Hormones respond to thoughts and feelings along with nutrients or activity.
And see your doctor to rule out underlying problems.
It’s never too late to start making healthier choices. Because, while you may not want to start a family today, you’ll want to be walking on those bones. For life.
Eat, move, and live… better.©
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Let us help you make sense of it all with this free special report.
In it you’ll learn the best eating, exercise, and lifestyle strategies — unique and personal — for you.
The Link Between Weight and Menstrual Cycles
This added estrogen can cause bleeding or menstrual disorders. A woman may go months without ovulating, for example, but the uterine lining is still accumulating — to the point that it becomes unstable. Eventually, says Dr. Arias, a woman can have a period that “lets loose like a flood gate,” with prolonged or very heavy bleeding.
Overweight women aren’t the only ones who may have problems with their periods. Underweight women and women with eating disorders, like anorexia nervosa, that result in extreme weight loss may also be unintentionally impacting their menstrual cycles. Women without much fat on their bodies may have fewer periods or go longer without ovulating. Starvation, as well as extreme exercise and stress, can trigger an effect that suppresses the hypothalamus. These women may be so underweight that their bodies simply stop making estrogen. Additionally, the lack of fat doesn’t allow cells to convert cholesterol into extra estrogen.
Can Your Period Cause Weight Gain?
Weight loss or gain can trigger changes in a woman’s menstrual cycle, but can it ever go the other way? It often seems like that time of the month moves the needle on your scale a few notches in the direction of weight gain.
“The menstrual cycle isn’t the cause of weight changes, it’s just a bystander,” explains Arias. The menstrual cycle does not directly impact weight loss or gain, but there may be some secondary connections.
On the list of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms are changes in appetite and food cravings, and that can affect weight. Studies show that women tend to crave foods high in fat and carbohydrates during specific phases of the menstrual cycle; women also tend to take in more calories during these phases.
Bloating, another uncomfortable yet temporary PMS symptom, leaves some women feeling heavy. Because salty foods can cause the body to retain water, which will show up on the scale as a temporary weight gain, it’s best to watch your salt intake and focus on eating a healthy, balanced diet, full of fruits and vegetables, before, during, and after menstruation. Drinking lots of water may help reduce that bloated feeling as well.
Your menstrual cycle maintains a delicate balance, so it’s good to be aware that gaining a large amount of weight or exercising excessively and losing a significant number of pounds, can impact your production of hormones, specifically estrogen, and hypothalamic functioning, potentially changing the regularity and length of your menstrual periods.
Five reasons your period came early, according to doctors
If your menstrual cycle is pretty regular, having a period come early can prompt small (and sometimes large!) bouts of anxiety. Questions arise like: Are there things I should know about my period blood? Is it trying to tell me something? Did I break something?! It’s stressful.
And since we know it can be unnerving to have your body behave in unexpected ways — especially when it comes to your reproductive system — we spoke to gynaecologist, Dr Abhishek Mitra, and obstetrician, Dr Sneha Bansal, to find out why your period may have come early. They explain that lifestyle changes, diet, illness, and even stress can affect when your period arrives.
Here are five reasons your period showed up unannounced.
Endometriosis, thyroid conditions, PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), and other conditions can interfere with the hormones in your body. ( )
You have an undiagnosed condition or illness
According to Dr Mitra, “Endometriosis, thyroid conditions, PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), and other conditions that can interfere with the hormones in your body, can all cause your period to arrive early.” Speak to your doctor if you feel you need to find out if you’re living with any of these.
Weight loss can also cause your period to come early ( )
If you’ve changed your eating habits or you’re trying to lose weight, the frequency and regularity of your period can be impacted. Dr Mitra says that if you’ve lost too much weight, you may lose your period altogether, but weight loss can also cause your period to come early.
If you take the morning-after pill three or more days before you are due to ovulate, chances are, your period will come earlier. ( )
You’re taking medication or the morning-after pill
Anyone who’s been taking the birth control pill for a while knows that if you miss a dose or two, your period will come early. Dr Bansal notes that blood thinners can also cause women to have an early period. This won’t be true in every morning-after pill case, but she explains that “if you take the morning-after pill three or more days before you are due to ovulate, chances are, your period will come earlier.”
Approaching menopause can definitely cause you period to come early. ( )
You’re approaching menopause
If you’re in your late 40s and in the perimenopausal phase, you may notice that your periods are becoming less predictable, much like they were when you were just beginning to menstruate. “Approaching menopause can definitely cause you period to come early,” says Dr Bansal.
If work or school is making you crazy, don’t be surprised to see your menstrual cycle sooner than expected. ( )
Dr Mitra says, “Mental stress can cause fluctuations in our hormones, which can affect a woman’s cycle.” So if work or school is making you crazy, don’t be surprised to see your menstrual cycle sooner than expected.
At the end of the day, every body is different. If you notice any drastic changes in your menstrual cycle and you’re not sure what’s going on, your best bet is to speak to your doctor immediately. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction.
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The most common cause of irregular or heavy bleeding is irregular ovulation. If there is no ovulation your period may be late and when it comes it may last a long time or be unusually heavy. Irregular ovulation is more common if you are underweight or very overweight. If you are overweight, this increases your risk of heavy and irregular periods. If this goes on for many years it may increase your risk of uterine cancer later in life. If you are overweight you may benefit from a low-sugar, low-calorie diet, weight loss and exercise for at least 30 minutes per day.
The combination of excessive exercising – particularly running – and very low body weight increases your risk of anovulation. If this goes on for a long period of time you may increase your risk of osteoporosis. If you are underweight regular menses may resume if you maintain a normal body weight and limit exercise to 30 minutes a day.
Irregular and heavy periods can be successfully treated with hormonal therapy in the setting of overweight, underweight or normal weight women.
Heavy and irregular bleeding may also be the result of an abnormal pregnancy. A miscarriage or a pregnancy outside of the uterus may cause abnormal or heavy bleeding.
Heavy and irregular bleeding may also be the result of benign tumors of the uterus such as fibroid tumors or endometrial polyps. These may require surgical removal.
A malfunctioning thyroid gland can cause heavy or absent periods. Thyroid abnormalities are easily treated medically. Elevated prolactin may cause absent or irregular bleeding. An abnormal prolactin level can be the result of a microscopic tumor that produces this hormone. This may be medically or surgically treated.
Heavy and irregular bleeding may also be the result of gonorrhea and chlamydia infections. These are readily treated with antibiotics.
Abnormal bleeding may also be caused by cancerous or pre-cancerous conditions of the cervix or uterus. The earlier they are diagnosed the easier they are to treat.
Endometriosis can cause heavy periods as well as pelvic pain.
Heavy and/or irregular bleeding in a young woman requires a complete medical and menstrual history as well as a complete physical exam. A complete list of medications is important. Blood tests should be performed for anemia, thyroid disease, pregnancy and prolactin level. Sometimes more hormonal tests are necessary to rule out other rare causes of absent or erratic periods. A cervical culture for infections like gonorrhea or chlamydia and a Pap smear may need to be done. An endometrial biopsy or a D&C diagnose pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions of the uterus. Ultrasound may be needed to look for uterine or ovarian tumors that are too small to be felt on an examination. If periods and/or intercourse are painful, a laparoscopy may be needed to diagnose endometriosis.
Treatment depends on what cause for the irregular or heavy bleeding was found. It also matters what your plans for a future family are. If there is no obvious cause, there are many options including birth control pills, injectable hormones, the Mirena® IUD, endometrial ablation, and uterine artery embolization.
If you are actively trying to get pregnant, taking Naproxen Sodium (Aleve®) during your period can make them lighter and less painful. If your periods are irregular and heavy due to polycystic ovarian syndrome there is medication available to make your periods more regular and lighter. If you are not trying to get pregnant there are other options. Depo-Provera® is a long-acting injectable hormone that stops your periods and provides birth control for 3 months. The Mirena IUD is an intrauterine device containing a small amount of hormone that gives you lighter periods and provides birth control for up to 5 years. Endometrial ablation is a procedure for women who are done with childbearing that cauterizes the inside of the uterus to give you lighter periods. Uterine artery embolization is a procedure done at the hospital by an interventional radiologist that reduces blood flow to the uterus and makes fibroids smaller. It is also recommended only for women done with childbearing. If you are done with childbearing and all other treatments have failed or are not for you, there is hysterectomy. A hysterectomy can often be done through the vagina or by laparoscopy with the da Vinci® Robot, making it less painful and shortening hospitalization.
If you have heavy and irregular periods there is help available. Don’t restrict your life to suit your periods. Let us help you control your periods to suit your life.
5 Reasons You Experience Weight Gain During Your Period
Like most things menstruation-related, the feeling that your period may cause weight gain isn’t all in your head. In fact, there are several physiological and psychological reasons why menstruation adds pounds that may last longer than the week of your period. The good news: With some knowledge of the why and how, you don’t need to grin and bear it. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Fluid retention
Feeling bloated is a common complaint during the menstrual cycle, when elevated levels of the female reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone lead to a shift in the body’s set point for sodium and cause fluid retention. “This may be the most noticeable to women during the second half of their menstrual cycle, when both estradiol the most potent and common of the three estrogen hormones and progesterone levels are at their highest,” says Heather Huddleston, MD, associate professor, division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility, at the UCSF Center for Reproductive Health.
To keep fluid weight at bay, avoid salty foods during the second half of your menstrual cycle. Skip the diuretics, says Amy Stephens, MD, a doctor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Cleveland Clinic. “In severe cases some women may be prescribed them, but that should be something done in conjunction with your gynecologist,” says Dr. Stephens.
Your period affects how well your gastrointestinal tract works to push out waste from your body. “Progesterone causes some relaxation of smooth muscle, leading to a reduction in gastrointestinal motility, which may lead to bloating and constipation in some women,” says Dr. Huddleston. To reduce both, increase the amount of fiber in your diet, particularly in the second half of the menstrual cycle, she suggests.
3. Food intake
Progesterone plays another weighty role during the second half of the menstrual cycle. It increases appetite, causing you to eat more. “Consistent overeating that is not offset by an increase in physical activity can lead to permanent weight gain,” says Dr. Huddleston.
To keep from gaining weight, avoid foods that decrease overall well-being. “Unfortunately, you want to avoid things you really crave, like sugary foods, like lots of carbs,” says Dr. Stephens. “You want to avoid caffeine and alcohol, and really salty foods.”
RELATED: Am I Really Hungry?
For most women, their monthly “cycle” starts with at least one of the host of symptoms known as premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, about one or two weeks before their actual period begins. Bloating, food cravings, and weight gain are among the most common symptoms. A study of 259 healthy women with regular menstrual cycles showed significant increases in appetite, protein intake, and total cravings, including those for chocolate, sweets, and salty flavors during the luteal, or premenstrual, phase before menstruation begins.
Experiencing depression or anxiety are also hallmarks of PMS, which is thought to be caused by cyclic changes in the brain chemical serotonin. “For some women, these mood symptoms can also lead to increased food intake,” says Dr. Huddleston. About 3 to 8 percent of women may experience a severe form of PMS known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Food cravings or binge eating are one of the symptoms of PMDD. See a health professional if you experience significant depression or anxiety during PMS, says Dr. Huddleston, as they can be associated with binge eating or eating disordered behaviors. To offset the weight gain during PMS or the second half of your cycle, increase exercise and focus on consuming healthy, nutrient-rich foods.
RELATED: Why You Should Drink a Glass of Water Right Now
If you experience irregular periods and weight gain, there may be cause for concern. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, is an imbalance of reproductive hormones that causes metabolism problems. It affects one in 10 women of child bearing age.
In obese women with PCOS, losing weight may help regulate their menstrual cycles. “Fat itself can produce estrogen which can cause hormonal imbalances that can affect the cycle,” says Dr. Stephens. “Irregular cycles do not cause weight gain. Weight gain can cause irregular cycles.”
For most women, weight gain during menstruation is only temporary. Maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle and diet will keep those extra fluctuating pounds from becoming permanent.
RELATED: The Zero-Gear Bodyweight Workout
Why You Gain Weight on Your Period
You’ve been exercising and eating healthy, but the scale just threw you a curve ball, clocking in at five more pounds than last week. Don’t worry-if your shocking weigh-in lands the week before your period, you can chalk it up to water weight, reassures Raquel Dardik, M.D., gynecologist at NYU Langone Medical Center. “Weight gain happens five days before your period, but you’ll be back to normal once you start,” she explains. (Find out What Your Period Means for Your Workout Schedule.)
Pre-period water weight can range from half of a pound to 10 pounds, usually averaging around five for most women, Dardik explains. Why? The hormone progesterone-essential in the early stages of pregnancy-is to blame: when there’s no baby (aka when you get your period), these levels fall. As a side effect, each cell in your body retains an extra microscopic drop of water, Dardik explains.
While it doesn’t lead to weight change, bloating caused by gas can magnify the situation by making you feel a size bigger. (Find out The Truth About PMS, Weight Gain, and “Fat Days.”)
Before you ask, yes, you can figure out exactly how much weight gain is to blame on your monthly visitor, but it’s better to not focus on numbers. Instead, maintain a healthy scale schedule to keep yourself in check: weigh yourself once a week, on the same day, at the same time, using the same scale. “The main thing is not to overdo it, because fluctuations in weight are common,” Dardik says.
Combat these side effects the way you battle all bulge: with exercise. And drink a lot of water to help get rid of water retention, says Dardik. Also try and avoid fatty foods, alcohol, and salt, which triggers your body to hold onto water, says Dardik. (So do these 5 Seemingly-Harmless Foods That Cause Belly Bloat.)
That extra weight that doesn’t disappear after your period, though? This could be caused by pre-period cravings that make you hungry for salty, greasy foods, and sweets-and that kind of weight will not come off after your period, Dardik warns. So before you indulge simply because you’re PMSing, think about whether you want to be carrying that extra weight post-period.
Moral of the story: check your weight, but don’t be paranoid about it. And keep your chin up: Your best days are ahead of you, explains Dardik, as women usually feel at their peak in the first 7-10 days after their period.
- By Amber Herring
As if you didn’t have enough happening inside your body when your period arrives (cramps, bloating, headaches, backaches, weird nausea, whatever’s going on with your intestines…), sometimes a bonus friend tags along with it: period weight! Yes, because the world is cruel and periods feel like actual hexes upon your body, it’s possible (and perfectly normal) to gain some extra pounds during that time of the month.
To help give you some peace of mind and reassure you that yes, this is happening to basically everyone and we’re all equally distraught about it, Cosmopolitan.com spoke with Alyssa Dweck, a gynecologist in Westchester County, about all the little reasons you might be seeing a few extra pounds on the scale around your period. Take a deep breath. It’s totally normal and you’re gonna be fine.
WHEN YOU WAKE UP 3 POUNDS HEAVIER
It’s more accurate to refer to this phenomenon as weight fluctuation, not weight gain. Even though you see an uptick in your body weight on the scale — you’re not actually permanently putting that weight on. It goes away. The extra weight is just a fluctuation that happens in tune with a spike in hormones in the days leading up to your period — that’s why it’s so sudden (like, seemingly happens overnight).
Dr. Dweck said she’s “always amazed” at how much fluctuation actually occurs. “Even though it’s pretty difficult to find this in the medical literature, most literature says it’s just a couple of pounds,” she said. “But anecdotally, women will complain about a five-plus-pound fluctuation before the period.” The amount your weight fluctuates just depends on your own body — three pounds on someone might be five for someone else.
If you’re stepping on the scale and see an inexplicable uptick in weight (inexplicable as in you’ve been eating normally and exercising regularly, and still somehow put on some pounds), think about how far out you are from your period. If you’re a few days away from when your period should be starting, congrats — you’ve got period weight fluctuation going on. Dr. Dweck said the hormone progesterone, which spikes when your body is getting ready to start your period, is mainly what influences the fluctuation. You might also see a little bump up in weight around the time you ovulate (again, hormones).
WHAT’S IN THOSE EXTRA POUNDS
It’s water. Water! Something you thought was your friend (it is still your friend). “There’s definitely some water retention that occurs because of hormonal fluctuation right right before the period,” Dr. Dweck said. And this is where things start to get especially cruel. The things that are most likely to make your body retain water (which, combined with those hormones, causes the momentary weight gain) are the very things PMS makes you crave — salt, sugar, and caffeine.
PMS makes you tired, so you’re less likely to work out and more likely to drink extra coffee. It also makes you uncomfortable and irritable, and may make you crave snacky foods with lots of salt or extra sweet things between meals or for dessert. Those foods aren’t great for you, but you’d have to eat a lot of them to actually put on fat just before your period.
Some of it may also be mental. Like, you haven’t actually put on any weight but you look in the mirror and just feel a bit bigger. “It’s the way women feel before their period,” Dweck said. “It looks like they’ve gained weight, even though it’s really just a feeling on the inside.”
Sometimes a bit of that weight might also be caused by the fact that you may not be having, ahem, regular bowel movements. Another fun thing progesterone does is affect your intestinal motility, and slow things down in that area. “Some people feel really constipated before their period,” Dr. Dweck said, and that can result in bloating or just an overall feeling of heftiness.
WAIT, BUT THIS IS REALLY UNFAIR
*Pats head.* I know. It really is. But if this is something that really bothers you and drives you insane each month, know that it’s driving a ton of other people insane too. You’re absolutely not alone. The best thing you can do for yourself is stay off the scale, and wear clothes that make you feel hot and comfy.
Dr. Dweck also suggests tracking it with an anticipatory calendar or period tracker. That way, you can know when the weight is coming, know that the weight isn’t actually real fat you’re putting on, and maybe take some measures to be mindful of how much salt, sugar, and caffeine you’re putting in your body. It could be that you dramatically cut back on those three things and still see the uptick. Bodies are nuts and basically do whatever they want. But take comfort in the fact that, as soon as the period starts, that weight will fall back off and your body will return to its homeostasis.
In no circumstance should you cut back on water. Not drinking water isn’t a way to solve water retention. It’s it’s really bothering you, or you see yourself gaining weight with each menstrual cycle and it never actually goes away when your period starts, you can talk to your doctor. Otherwise, take solace in the fact that it’s all very normal.
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Hannah Smothers Hannah writes about health, sex, and relationships for Cosmopolitan, and you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
4 Ingredient Brownies ?
4 Ingredient Brownies ? Recipe: 4 large bananas 1 cup creamy natural peanut butter 2 scoops IdealLean Chocolate Coconut Protein (IdealFit.com/ideallean-chocolate-coconut-kn-p) 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder Directions: Spray an 8×8 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mash the bananas in a medium bowl. Stir in the peanut butter, protein and cocoa. Bake 12-20 minutes.
Posted by Kaytlin “Katniss” Neil on Wednesday, May 17, 2017
If you do eat excess food before or on your period, this will not just be water retention and that kind of weight will be more permanent and you will need to work that off.
A tip I have to help with your bottomless stomach is to have some veggies on hand for when you get really hungry and absolutely have to eat something. They will help keep you full and hold you over until your next snack or meal.
Try baking your veggies in the oven for 10-15 minutes with a little avocado oil or coconut oil, and whatever spices you have on hand. They taste SO good that way.
You can also sign up for a free fitness/nutrition plan which can help you to jumpstart your weight loss and promote a lean and strong bod. Sign up for my free challenge here.
3. Staying on Plan
A cool thing about the week before your period, is that you’re burning about 10% more calories a day. Meaning, if you stay on top of your plan, you can see a little added weight loss! This isn’t a huge amount, so don’t start eating more than what your plan calls for because you’re burning more calories. Still stick to your plan!
4. Listening to Your body
During your period, pain and energy levels are fluctuating. Listen to your body! If you feel like your energy levels are low, try yoga, take a walk, or do just a light workout session. If you feel like you need an extra rest day, take one. On the other hand, if you have a random burst of energy, go get your workout done while your energy levels are up! I also recommend taking Pre-Workout for additional motivation and energy to get you into the gym.
You are also more likely to get hurt during this time. This study shows how during the menstrual cycle women are at a higher risk of injury, as estrogen levels skyrocket.
It is key during this time to have your nutrition and exercise techniques on point to help prevent any injuries from happening! For nutrition, if you’re not on a specific plan, I suggest getting at least 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight each day so your body can heal and repair itself properly. As for exercising techniques, really pay attention to how your body is moving, specifically your joints. And practice good form. Grab a respected gym partner and have them double check your technique as you go!
You Got This
Periods can sometimes get the best of us, but you can stay on track with your goals during this time of the month. Practice healthy habits and remember consistency and balance in all things. You need an occasional treat meal? That’s fine! Take one. Fit it into your week, and don’t feel guilty about it. Enjoy it, then get back on track after.
I also take supplements to make sure that my body gets the vitamins and minerals that it needs to function properly. IdealLean Multivitamin + Beauty Complex promotes eye health, healthy bones, immune support, energy, and more. Plus with our Beauty and Antioxidant Blends you can look and feel your best from the inside out.
Research proves cycle syncing helps you slim down
13 Jun Research proves cycle syncing helps you slim down
Posted at 17:03h in diet, exercise, food, hormone research, hormonology guide, hormonology tip, Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4 by Gabrielle Lichterman
Longtime Hormonology fans may remember that two years ago I lost more than 30 pounds using my Hormonology Diet–which was a method I devised that tailored how I ate and exercised according to where I was in my cycle. I created it by rounding up the studies that showed how the ups-and-downs of estrogen and progesterone throughout each week of the menstrual cycle impacted appetite, cravings and the effects of exercise on muscle and fat–and I then capitalized on the hormonal effects that made it easier to lose weight on certain days and overcame hormonal obstacles that made it more difficult to lose weight on other days.
Well, I’m happy to report I’ve kept off the weight all this time. And, it’s all because I continue to stick with the same hormone principles that helped me drop the excess pounds to begin with. Best of all, I don’t feel deprived, hungry or like I’m struggling to stick to a strict diet or strenuous exercise regimen. But, I do feel much healthier and far more energetic.
Since I first posted my Hormonology Diet to losing weight two years ago, I’ve heard from many women who tried it and had great success with meeting their own weight loss goals.
Well, it looks like research has finally caught up with what we Hormonology gals already know: A new six-month study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition proves that premenopausal women lose more weight when they tailor their eating and exercise habits around their menstrual cycle.
And they’ve shown just how signficant the difference can be:
Of the 31 women who completed the entire 24-week trial, those who dieted and exercised in sync with their menstrual cycle ended up losing 14.3% of their body weight versus 8.3% who didn’t sync up dieting and exercising with their cycle (a nearly 9.5-pound difference) and they lost 1.1 inches more from their waists.
Here’s how the researchers discovered this:
They assembled 60 women and randomly assigned them to two groups: One group consumed 1600 daily calories and completed a general workout routine designed specifically for weight loss by registered clinical dietitians. A second group also consumed 1600 daily calories and exercised, but they were given instructions about how to tailor their eating and exercise habits according to their menstrual cycle. These included the following:
- From Day 6 to Day 15 (the days after you period through ovulation), eat more protein (30% of your total intake). As the researchers explain, on these days, rising estrogen helps you build more muscles from resistance exercise, so the added protein (also a muscle-builder) helps to maximize this hormonal benefit. That’s key since having more muscle helps you burn more calories when at rest.
- From Day 16 to Day 28, continue to eat a higher amount of protein. This will help you feel fuller, which will rein in your appetite that’s intensified due to progesterone on these cycle days.
- From Day 16 to Day 28, eat more healthy fat (such as avocado and peanut butter) to fulfill your cravings for fatty foods due to progesterone.
- From Day 24 to Day 28, eat a little chocolate (you can add as much as 200 calories to your initial 1600 calorie diet) to satisfy premenstrual cravings for sweet foods, especially chocolate.
- From Day 1 to Day 5 (your period days) do one light activity daily, such as walking, yoga or stretching.
- From Day 6 to Day 15, do circuit and weight training two days per week and alternate with cardio and interval training two to three days per week. This routine capitalizes on the way rising estrogen helps build more muscle in the first half of your cycle.
- From Day 16 to Day 28, alternate strength training with cardio. This helps capitalize on the way the combination of estrogen and progesterone helps your body burn up to 30% more fat during aerobic exercise on these days.
It’s interesting to note that while most studies have participants who drop out along the way, there were significantly fewer dropouts in the group that used cycle-related diet and exercise tips than the control group who used traditional dieting and exercise, suggesting that the faster results motivated women to stick with the cycle-related weight loss plan longer.
All in all, these are simple cycle-related tweaks most women can follow that make a big difference in how quickly you drop unwanted pounds. And now thanks to this study, we know they’re proven to work–and just how much you can lose when you stick with it.
If you want try losing weight in sync with your cycle, you can use the tips from this study listed above or you can check out my own Hormonology Diet, which incorporates many of the same techniques. If you try it, please let me know how it worked for you!
Here’s why I started tracking my periods and you should too. It helps lose weight fast
Until a couple of months ago, tracking my period never seemed like a good idea; mostly because I’d dread those four days and the horrible pain and cramps that accompanied them. Before this I’d never downloaded a period tracking app or ever bothered to mark the calendar.
But something changed when Fitbit launched a female health tracker on its smart watches in May. And just like I was tracking my daily step count, I started being more mindful of my menstrual cycle too. And it’s made my life better.
We know that periods suck, but knowing when it’ll knock on our doors and being ready for it, make it a whole lot bearable.
Control over your body: When you start to track your periods, you become aware of the various changes your cycle brings with it, read bloating, PMS, mood swings. This helps you deal with these symptoms in a better manner. So, if you are having a futile argument with your partner, you know where it’s coming from. Many apps allow you to track moods, flow and then customise this info to your individual needs.
Easy doctor visits: Tracking your period can make your gynae visit super easy. When he or she probes for information like last menstrual cycle, you can have all that information at the tip of your finger.
Good for your sex life: Knowing your fertile window and scheduling sex accordingly can save you from unwanted pregnancy. And if you’re looking to get pregnant, having frequent sex around fertile window will boost your chances. The second week of your cycle is also a good time to plan a weekend away with your partner to make the most of it. You will be at your sexiest best.
Make the most of workouts: Did you know that, the second week after your period is the best time for some intense exercise? The reason: increase in oestrogen means that you have more energy and you are likely to endure intense activities. However, week three is when you will see some real results as the combination of oestrogen and progesterone can help burn more fat.
Planning your calendar: Want a night out with your girls? Avoid the week before your period as this is time you’ll feel tired and bloated. So, drinking should be the last thing on your mind. Another helpful tip: avoid scheduling your monthly waxing date five days before and through the period. The best time is to get it done four days after your period ends; this is when you have the highest tolerance for pain.
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