Do you want to know how to prevent weight gain when on birth control or are you worried about using the pill, patch, vaginal ring, IUD, etc. because you’re afraid you might gain weight? You’re not alone! This is a major concern for many women who prefer hormonal contraception to other forms of birth control or who might be prescribed hormonal contraception for other medical reasons.
That said, before we look at ways that you can prevent weight gain when on birth control, it first helps to know what can cause you to gain weight when taking hormonal contraceptives.
The Primary Culprit Behind Birth Control Weight Gain is Hormones
It is not uncommon for women to see a slight weight increase when they take hormonal birth control like the pill, patch or vaginal ring. The reason is that each of these contain estrogen. This hormone is known for causing fluid retention. Therefore, many women will gain excess water weight throughout the month and may suffer from bloating when taking any of the products.
Usually, by the end of each cycle, most women will pee out the excess water and slim back down. However, throughout the month, once again water retention will occur. Although it’s not actual weight gain that results from fat, sometimes, women can gain as much as 10 pounds in water weight during their cycle. This can be very unpleasant and unwanted, to say the least.
What’s more, another hormone, progestin, which is commonly found in different forms of birth control, can also lead to water retention and an increase in appetite.
Tips on How to Prevent Weight Gain When on Birth Control
The good news is that there are ways that you can reduce your chances of packing on excess pounds (including excess water) if you want to prevent weight gain when on birth control. Here are some tips to consider:
1. Switch your birth control – Different types and brands of birth control contain varying amounts of estrogen, progestin or both. If you are taking a product that has a higher dose of estrogen, your risk of gaining weight is higher. Since this is the case, the logical solution is to investigate the different birth control options available to you and discuss your weight gain concerns with your doctor.
It is also worth pointing out that some birth control pills contain drospirenone as the progestin component. The reason is that this can help prevent weight gain when on birth control, due to the fact that it acts like a diuretic. Diuretics stop you from retaining water. The only downside is that this is only available in oral contraceptives. With that in mind, prepare yourself for a possible trial and error period while you search for the birth control you like best.
2. Control your sodium intake – If you eat a diet that is high in salt, you’re far more likely to retain water and feel bloated when you take hormonal contraceptives. Limit your intake of high-sodium content foods like processed meats, canned meats, canned soups, canned salted vegetables, pizza, cheese, pre-packaged dinners, salty snacks, etc.
Try to keep your daily diet under 2,000 milligrams of sodium daily if you want to prevent weight gain when on birth control. In fact, staying away from sodium-rich foods is a great idea for anyone who wants to prevent weight gain or lose weight, in general. Plus, it’s also a good idea to drink plenty of water to help flush salt out of your system and encourage regular urination.
3. Keep track of your calories – Make sure you are only ingesting the recommended number of calories you need in a day. Not sure how many calories you need? Use a free online calorie calculator or don’t be afraid to bring up this question with your doctor.
Once you know the answer, work on keeping your daily calorie count at or below the number of calories you require to maintain your weight. After all, one of the best ways to prevent weight gain when on birth control is to work on preventing gaining weight, period.
4. Exercise daily – It’s not just about making sure that you don’t overload on calories. It’s also about making sure that you burn calories. Engage in exercise on a regular basis. In addition to burning calories, exercise can also help with appetite control and decrease water weight.
Aim to get in at least 30 minutes per day. While it’s a good idea to take part in a variety of exercises that target different areas of your body, cardio workouts (e.g. speed walking, jogging, swimming, using a treadmill, etc.) are particularly important for calorie and fat burning. Just like calorie-control, making regular exercise a part of your lifestyle can not only help prevent weight gain when on birth control, but overall weight gain, as well.
5. Choose healthy snacks – If you notice that your appetite has increased, keep healthy snack options available, like plenty of fruits and vegetables. These healthy foods can help to curb your hunger without you overloading on high-fats and calories.
Also, avoid skipping meals or letting yourself become overly hungry to help prevent weight gain when on birth control. Eating meals high in protein and fiber can help you stay fuller for longer and provide you with energy for longer. It’s also a good idea to reduce your carbs to prevent filling up on too many empty calories.
6. Get proper rest – Sleep is important if you want to reduce your risk of packing on the pounds when you’re using contraceptives. This is because when you are deprived of sleep, your stress hormone cortisol rises. This leads to an increase in appetite. What’s worse, you’re also more likely to crave comfort foods or foods that are easy to make. For most people, this means pre-packaged foods or those high in fat and calories.
To prevent weight gain when on birth control. Try to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night. You’ll have a better chance of obtaining the proper sleep you need on a regular basis if you go to bed and get up at the same time every day (including weekends!). Make sleep a priority and you’re not only likely to decrease your likelihood of gaining body fat, but you’re also likely to have more energy and feel better, both physically and mentally.
7. Taking diet pills might not be a good idea – If you are already trying to lose weight and you’re worried about gaining more on birth control, you may be interested in taking dietary supplements for weight management.
While this might seem like a smart way to possibly prevent weight gain when on birth control, keep in mind that some dietary supplements could interact with the pill and lower its effectiveness. Be sure to talk to your doctor before combining diet pills for weight loss with hormonal contraceptives.
8. Talk to your doctor – Last, but certainly not least, talk to your healthcare provider. Your doctor is your ally. He or she can provide you with professional advice and suggestions on how you can best prevent weight gain when on birth control.
Don’t be afraid to communicate your worries or ask questions. Your doctor is there to help you make the best choices for your health and wellbeing.
All of this being said, it is likely to come as a big relief to many women to know that today’s birth control pills have lower amounts of hormones compared to those of the past. This means that weight gain from the pill isn’t really a problem anymore.
As such, if you want to prevent weight gain when on birth control, typically sticking to a healthy calorie-conscious diet and engaging in regular exercise is often enough.