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Preventing PMS-Related Weight Gain

Preventing PMS-Related Weight Gain

On her website OwningPink.com, Dr. Lissa Rankin hosts a medical blog in the spirit of her upcoming book What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend. Much of what she addresses in the blog are questions from patients and community members. If you have a question you’d like Dr. Rankin to answer, you can submit it for consideration here.

Q: For a week before my period, I’m hungry 24/7. I’m really sick of PMS sabotaging my weight loss goals. Help!

I hear you, girlfriend.  You’re eating salads, taking daily walks and making progress nurturing you body towards your optimal body weight, then THWACK! That time of the month hits, and you’re jonesing for chocolate.  Sounds like you suffer from what we docs call PMS-C, a type of PMS characterized by cravings for sweets, increased appetite, fatigue, headaches, and hypoglycemic episodes that may lead to dizziness, lightheadedness, or- in severe cases- fainting.

Although many theories about what causes PMS have been bantered around in the medical literature, a clear answer has never surfaced.  We suspect that those who suffer from PMS-C are responding to hormonal fluctuations that affect blood sugar, probably by making cells more sensitive to insulin, which lowers blood sugar, leading to blood sugar crashes that trigger mad dashes to the candy and potato chip aisles.  After you stuff your face with Ho Ho’s, your insulin levels spike, causing your blood sugar to drop yet again. And so the cycle continues.

Although I’m a big fan of loving your body exactly the way it is- curves, pudge, and all- I understand that for some, weight loss is critical to optimizing your health and vitality. To avoid weight gain during the luteal (second half) of your menstrual cycle, resist the urge to indulge in sweets and carbs and stabilize your blood sugar with low glycemic index foods that don’t bump up your insulin levels much.

Healthy choices include lean proteins (fish, chicken breast, eggs), veggies, and whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, or barley.  For even more effective blood sugar stabilization, drink green vegetable juice. Keep healthy snacks, such as almonds, olives, or carrot sticks, on hand to combat cravings. This kind of diet will knock out most of your cravings, so that, even if PMS hunger leads you to consume more food, you should still be on track for your weight loss goals.

If you know what you should do and still find yourself grabbing for the Hershey bar, it may be your body’s way of begging for more magnesium. Since magnesium is needed to help insulin bind to cell receptors, magnesium deficiency may worsen chocolate cravings. And- yes, you guessed it- chocolate contains magnesium.  (Ah, the body is brilliant.) Supplementing with 300-400 mg of magnesium may help. Evening primrose oil, chaste tree berry, and natural progesterone may also alleviate PMS symptoms.

Read more: Diet & Nutrition, General Health, Health, Natural Remedies, Women's Health, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.  She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.  Lissa blogs at LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities - HealHealthCareNow.com and OwningPink.com. She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.

46 comments

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1:04AM PST on Jan 10, 2012

Thanks.

5:14PM PST on Dec 28, 2011

ok, magnesium... thx

4:46PM PST on Dec 28, 2011

hmm... magnesium... okay. ty

5:02PM PDT on Jun 11, 2011

Thanks

8:15AM PDT on Jun 2, 2011

Good informaiton thanks.

11:43AM PDT on Sep 11, 2010

Thanks for the insight on magnesium deficiency, will check
that out.

1:16AM PDT on Aug 31, 2010

Thanks

6:33PM PDT on Aug 29, 2010

No PMS at my age :))))))))

8:36AM PDT on Aug 24, 2010

interesting, I love chocolate all days

2:04AM PDT on Jul 16, 2010

This is huge issue for women (and the men in their lives). Thanks for posting.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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