Fluctuating hormone levels is something that all women have to contend with throughout their lives from when we first hit puberty in the teenage years, through adulthood and childbearing and into the menopause.
Most women expect that the huge hormone surges brought on by pregnancy or child birth will have an impact on how they are feeling, but what is less recognised is that the monthly hormone fluctuations caused by the menstrual cycle can have an equally severe effect – and can hinder your weight loss plan
What is PMT?
PMT stands for pre-menstrual tension and is also sometimes known as pre-menstrual syndrome. The term is used to describe the range of symptoms which a woman may experience in the second half of her menstrual cycle in the days before her period starts. PMT symptoms vary from woman to woman but may include irritability, tearfulness, bloating, headaches, sleeping difficulties and food cravings. PMT varies between women but also can vary in severity throughout a lifetime, with some women finding that their symptoms improve or deteriorate after a pregnancy.
Implications for Weight Loss
There are two main implications for weight loss. The first implication is that PMT can cause women to retain more water and become more bloated than usual. Even with healthy eating, in the week before a period a woman may find that the scales refuse to budge and that weight may even be gained. This obviously is a massive demotivating factor for women trying to lose weight.
The second factor which comes into play is food cravings. Many women find they are far hungrier than usual in the run up to their period, and that they crave unhealthy foods such as chocolate and fatty foods such as potato chips. Coupled with the difficulty of losing weight due to fluid retention and bloating, many women find that their weight increases before their period.
What can be done about PMT?
Women who suffer from extreme PMT symptoms should visit their doctor to discuss options, as severe symptoms can be lessened by taking hormonal contraception such as the pill. If the pill is not something that you wish to consider, being aware of your body and anticipating what will happen can help greatly.
Charting your cycle will make you aware of whether or not you are prone to retaining fluid or bloating, and this knowledge will help with the disappointment and lack of motivation which comes from seeing no movement on the scales. Also, being aware that you may experience food cravings for unhealthy food products and try to plan ahead by only having healthy foods in the house.
Healthy eating options
Snacking while suffering with PMT is not necessarily a bad thing as long as you are snacking on the correct sorts of foods. Nuts and seeds (see our top pick of nuts here) make a nutritious snack as they are packed with minerals and healthy unsaturated fats which will satisfy the fat craving but not block your arteries. Small packs of nuts or seeds are also the ideal thing to slip into your bag and take with you for a snack on the go or at your desk when tempted by chocolate or other less healthy choices. Also see our top ten lowest calorie snacks to snack on here
Foods to boost your mood
The food we choose to eat can have a big impact on our mood and this is especially the case around that time of the month. See our top list of mood boosting foods here.