Is it me or does it feel like with every year you get older, PMS symptoms get worse?! Days leading up to it, I can easily cry, sleep feels more disturbed and my concentration decreases. I’m sure my partner would add snappy to that list but hey we can’t be positive all the time 😉
What is PMS?
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a series of symptoms commonly experienced by females 1-2 weeks before menstruation (luteal phase). Symptoms can vary, but include mood swings, irritability, headaches, bloating, breast tenderness, and increased appetite, carbohydrate and alcohol craving.
Here is a visual of the process.
As a trainer and coach, it’s important for me to know when my client’s menstrual cycle is as it will impact weight fluctuation (which is completely normal) of up to 2.5kg due to hormonal changes and fluid retention.
Core temperature increases in the days leading up to menstruation so increasing extra fluid intake is needed to ensure they’re hydrated enough.
What you should consider during your menstrual cycle?
Some women find Vitamin D, Magnesium or Calcium supplements alleviates some of the symptoms. However, there is not enough scientific evidence to suggest the benefits of supplements on PMS. Here are some suggestions you could try:
- Eat small, frequent meals based on complex carbs, high in fibre and easy to digest e.g., opt for wholemeal, wholegrains, brown rice, potatoes with skin on. Slow energy release foods to keep your energy levels up.
- Reduce salty foods to help prevent bloating
- Make sure your diet has sufficient calcium and vitamin D. NHS guidelines suggest adults aged 19-64 need 700mg of calcium a day and recommend taking 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D a day between October and early March.
- Increase magnesium rich foods such as green vegetables and wholegrain breakfast cereals. Magnesium turns the food we eat into energy and makes sure the parathyroid glands, that produce hormones important for bone health, work normally.
- Limit your alcohol intake. Higher intake of alcohol has been linked to increasing symptoms.
- Stay hydrated to help eliminate bloating sensation. Drinking enough water will also speed up your digestion, give you more energy and prevent water retention.
- Plan ahead. Planning ahead will help support you in including nutrient rich foods rather than reaching for caffeine, overeating high sugar snacks which can destabilise your blood sugar and mood.
- Eat chocolate but look for high cacao levels (70% or more) which you find in dark chocolate. A dark chocolate bar tends to have half the sugar of milk and contains less or no milk. It has more fibre, minerals and antioxidants.
- Keep active. Exercise helps improve symptoms of PMS, such as depression and fatigue. However, don’t ignore how you feel and adapt the exercise you are doing.
Try and adjust your nutrition around your cycle and monitor how much of a difference it makes. If you are using a coach or personal trainer who creates your training plan, then speak to them about adjusting your training during your cycle.