Why an Extra 5-10 Pounds Is Totally Normal Sometimes

Is that skyrocketing scale just water weight? Find out from Shape how your monthly visitor affects your number.

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 outWhat 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¡ªessential in the early stages of pregnancy¡ªis 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 outThe 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. (That’s one of9 Weight Loss Tricks You’re Already Doing.)

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 these5 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¡ªand 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.

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