Weight Loss and Your Period

Despite our widespread intuition that menstrual cycles affect our relationship with food, surprisingly little has been written about it. Think about how often we say things like “I’m PMS-ing right now and can’t stop eating chocolate,” or “I eat a quart of ice cream right before my period but the second it starts, my cravings are gone.” Many of us blame ourselves for being out of control and question why we cry at the smallest provocation. But it’s not our fault: it’s all about our hormones.

Research published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders* suggests that certain hormones, primarily progesterone, impact not only our appetite during the menstrual cycle but our body image as well. One possible reason is that progesterone contributes to premenstrual anxiety, a state that can make women feel more critical of their bodies. Interestingly, other animals show the same pattern of binge eating during the pre-estrus phase.

While keto can lead to great improvements in health, it isn’t going to change your cycle and the cravings and emotions that can come along with it. Light or heavy, cramps or no cramps, short or long, PMS will continue as usual. The best approach is to be kind to yourself. It’s only a few days a month, so give yourself a break.

The Hunger Is Real

If you’re hungry, eat. Don’t stress over your macros. While it’s not an excuse to gorge yourself, it’s fine to have a few extra pieces of 90% dark chocolate or stevia sweetened chocolate. Make a few extra fat bombs or a small chocolate keto cake. Eat a few more of those blackened chicken wings, jalapeno poppers, or strips of bacon. Add in a few more carbs!

Stay off the Scale

There’s no point in torturing yourself. The weight gain you’d notice is the bloat from your body retaining water through the hormonal surges. Don’t worry: it will be gone in just a few days.

Respect and Honor Your Body

Pay attention to the messages it is sending you. Slow down and get some extra rest. Read a book, watch a movie, or soak in a tub. How about a massage? If cramps or headaches are too much to handle, take some meds — but be careful not to overdo it.

The urge to self-criticize may be strong, but take a moment to marvel instead. Our bodies are capable of incredible things — if we choose to, they can create life. Revel in the wonder!

Carr-Nagle, Johnson, Bergerson, & Nagle. 1994. “Body image changes over the menstrual cycle in normal women. The International Journal of Eating Disorders 16: 267–273.