Ladies, do you gain a lot of weight around your period?
Here’s how daily supplementation with the right forms of magnesium and B6, as well as targeted use of a low-salt, high-potassium diet around your period with herbal diuretics and just the right dose of dark chocolate can help. Tune in to learn more!
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Here are links mentioned in this episode:
Briana Theroux’s web site: https://brianatheroux.com
Using the links below generates a small commission for me at no extra cost to you:
Magnesium and B6 together (this could be taken twice a day): https://chrismasterjohnphd.com/amazon/mgandB6
Alternatively, you can take magnesium as glycinate or malate and B6 as pyridoxal 5’-phosphate (P5P) separately to yield 2-400 mg Mg and 40-50 mg P5P per day.
If you like the taste, you could use this dandelion leaf and root tea: https://chrismasterjohnphd.com/amazon/dandelionleaftea
If you don’t like the taste of the tea, you could use these capsules: https://chrismasterjohnphd.com/amazon/dandelionleafcapsules
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Read the Transcript
Ladies, do you gain a lot of weight during and around your period? If so, this episode is for you.
Hi. I’m Dr. Chris Masterjohn of chrismasterjohnphd.com and this is Chris Masterjohn Lite where the name of the game is “Details? Shmeetails. Just tell me what works!”
And today we’re going to talk about what works for menstrual weight gain.
If you gain up to ten pounds give or take a few pounds of weight in association with your period most of that weight is probably water, and in studies of women with PMS who have water retention as one of the symptoms –then there’s– we know a little bit about the hormonal reason. So first of all you may be surprised to learn that it is not extra estrogen that is involved in this. It’s actually extra progesterone.
Now there’s tons of information out there about estrogen dominance and too much estrogen, etc. etc.etc., but in this case what’s happening is that normally your progesterone peaks in association with ovulation earlier in your cycle and then it comes down, and in women who have this symptom the progesterone peaks and then it keeps going up all the way through the point of menstruation.
Now it’s not clear if the progesterone is the cause of this and exactly how it causes it, but I would not, unless you have experience showing this works for you, I would not go out trying to treat it with progesterone creams or oral progesterone or anything like that.
Because I do believe that it has the potential to make it worse. But the real striking thing is that women who have this symptom have very high levels of aldosterone which is a hormone that helps you retain sodium and pee out potassium. Whenever you retain sodium you retain water. Potassium brings water into your cells where it makes you look muscular if anything. Sodium helps you retain water outside your cells where it makes you look and potentially feel swollen and/or bloated depending on where that water is. Since the way that the aldosterone helps you retain water is by helping you retain salt then you probably don’t want to be throwing a lot of salt into this system.
Conversely, since the aldosterone is flushing out potassium and potassium is what helps bring water into your cells to hydrate you instead of bloating you and swelling you then you probably do want to get extra potassium. So during the time leading up to your period or whenever these symptoms start happening I would: Number 1: completely avoid all processed foods with the one exception of a little bit of chocolate as I’ll get to. And number 2: I would avoid adding much salt to your food.
I think it’s okay if you lightly salt your food, but you probably want to follow the advice that people with high blood pressure follow when they avoid salt, maybe sprinkle a little bit into your hand so you can see that you’re just putting a little bit on. You don’t want to go shaking a lot of salt onto your food. I would eat a diet based mainly on lean proteins, which are high in potassium, and fruits and vegetables, which are high in potassium. In addition to the fruits and vegetables you could include legumes and potatoes, which are also pretty good sources of potassium.
You could include a little bit of whole grains, but not very much because they’re not very good sources of potassium, and when you do include lean proteins you want to try to avoid losing the juices. For meat, for example, you want to try to cook the meat in a way that you will retain the juices and consume them instead of throwing them away because a lot of the potassium will go from the meat into those juices. The second thing that you can do is supplement with magnesium and vitamin B6.
For magnesium the dose should be two to four hundred milligrams a day, and magnesium glycinate or magnesium malate are both fine sources. I would avoid magnesium oxide. For vitamin B6 it should be in the form of pyridoxal 5′-phosphate, P5P, and the dose should be about 40 to 50 milligrams. This is on the basis that without knowing why doses in these ranges of these supplements have been shown to help women’s PMS symptoms, including water retention. You have to take these consistently every day for up to two months for the effect to fully show up. So this is a matter of long-term everyday supplementation to make this happen as opposed to just taking them on the days that you have the water retention or on the days leading up to the water retention.
The third thing that you can do is use a mild herbal diuretic to help clear away some of that water from the bloating and swelling. Dandelion leaf is a great one. Dandelion leaf is superior to dandelion root so you can either use dandelion leaf or you can use a combination of dandelion leaf and dandelion root. That’s largely a matter of taste, preference, and convenience, and whatever you can get your hands on. Just try to make sure that what you’re using does contain some dandelion leaf that’ll help you pee out some of the extra water.
So specifically for the water weight there’s three things to do and the low-salt high-potassium diet is something that you only need to specifically manage around the days that you have the problems. The dandelion leaf and/or root is something that you only need to take specifically at the times you’re having the problems. The magnesium and B6 is something that you should be taking every day, month after month, after month, to see if it impacts these problems, and if it does you have to keep taking it.
Now it’s also possible that a portion of that weight gain is fat, and it could be because you’re experiencing more cravings and you’re eating more junk or you’re just eating more in general. And what you would see if that were the case is that maybe your weight goes up 10 pounds and then when your period is over it comes down 9 pounds but then it goes up 10 down 9 up 10 down 9 up 10 down 9; six months later you realize that you gained 6 pounds.
So you do want to try to control your cravings and food intake during this period, and my suggestion would be to take something like dark chocolate which has sources of copper in it that are very useful during times of high estrogen, and magnesium which I already said we should be supplementing with here. That chocolate is a good source of minerals as long as it’s dark, right the darker the better because the darker the chocolate is the more actual chocolate there is and less sugar there is. But you want to have a very defined amount.
So you don’t want to go to a bakery and pig out on the chocolate there because you have an endless amount of chocolate in front of you. You don’t want to stock up on ten chocolate bars a month that you keep at home because then the danger of eating four of them on the first day is very high. So it’s best to go out to the store, buy a one-serving package of chocolate, come back home and eat it, and then do that the next day; that can help satisfy some cravings in a very limited and confined context, also giving you some important minerals that can help you, and that’s to prevent that small portion of the weight gain that might actually be fat.
Special thanks to my colleague Briana Theroux who helped me put together some of this information. You can find more of her work at brianatheroux.com. I’ll link to her site in the description of this episode.