My HormonologyAn anonymous Hormonology newsletter subscriber asks: “Does our weight fluctuate during our monthly cycle independent of what we eat or how much we exercise?”

My answer: It can! Here’s why: Let’s say you eat the same exact foods and you do the same exact types of exercise you usually do all cycle long. Rising progesterone in your Week 3 and Week 4 still triggers water retention and constipation, which can make you look and feel puffier and, in fact, weigh one to three pounds more than you do in Week 1 and Week 2 of your cycle.

Want to avoid this cycle-repeating weight gain? Good news: Progesterone can actually help you do that, too! That’s because this hormone prompts up to 30% more fat burn when you exercise during these weeks. So, take advantage of this little fact by first countering the negative effects of progesterone by sticking to foods that don’t worsen water retention (salty anything, for example), consuming foods or beverages that help your body shed excess fluid (such as, dandelion tea, asparagus or watermelon), eating foods that ease constipation (prunes and rye bread are study-proven to act as mild laxatives) and avoiding anything that triggers constipation (for instance, by eating fast food or bulking up on high-fiber grains without drinking enough water). Then do some type of aerobic exercise you enjoy. You can end up looking and feeling slimmer and, in fact, weighing one to three pounds less in Week 3 and Week 4 than you did in your Week 1 and Week 2!