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Birth Control: The reason why you can’t lose weight?

Are you becoming more and more frustrated that the scales are not budging and convinced its the pill that’s holding you back? Keeping a cool a head can be challenging at times when you see the scales fluctuate daily, but half the battle is accepting that and learning to adapt on certain weeks.

Before we dive deeper into answering the question, let me explain more about the different types of birth control. There are 2 types, either hormonal (oral) or non hormonal (copper UID/coil) and can be categorised as either Monophasic, Triphasic or Progestin only.

Monophasic birth control- Each pill is designed to deliver the same level of hormone (oestrogen and progestin) throughout the entire pill pack

Triphasic birth control – contain three different doses of hormones (oestrogen and progestin) so the hormone combination changes approximately every seven days throughout the pill pack. The amount of oestrogen may change as well as the amount of progestin

PRG only birth control – Sometimes referred to as the the mini pill, which only contains the hormone progestin and no estrogen.

Looking into various different studies, there’s a huge difference with the impact on bodyweight with taking birth control, for example

 

  • One woman lost 32lbs and another woman gained 15lbs
  • Copper IUD (implant) shows no weight gain, compared hormonal birth control groups that gained 3-4lbs over 1 year.
  • However when looking at individual participants, variation is huge. For example, one woman in the hormonal birth control gained 72lbs, and another woman lost 35lbs
  • Variation was the same in non-hormonal birth control group
  • Triphasic – some fat gain, due to progestin increases
  • Monophasic– fluid retention due to estrogen
  • PRG only – higher fat gain, especially high dose used for a prolonged period of time

It’s Important to note that calorie intake/output was not controlled in the studies.

 

So Is Birth control the reason why you can’t lose weight? Its Inter-individual and the results are conflicting with huge variations

Birth control does not impact fat loss

Possible reasons for weight gain

  1. Feeling comfortable with partner, more meals out etc
  2. Fluid retention
  3. How you mentally deal with the weight gain from the fluid retention
  4. Feeling tired- impact training intensity and prepping food
  5. No motivation – less likely to exercise or stick to the diet
  6. Feeling hungry – more likely to binge

What does hold true is if calorie intake and expenditure are controlled, birth control does not impact fat loss.

It’s about how you deal with the symptoms, having a plan in place and being strategic that could be the difference between maintaining or gaining weight.  For example if cravings increase in week 2, you can either

Binge OR Increase calorie intake by 200-300 calories

In my next post i will discuss the hormones Oestrogen and Progestin and their impact on the body.  You will then probably get a better understanding of why you experience different symptoms like fatigue, hunger and low mood.

I highly recommend the ‘Period Tracker Period Calendar’ to start tracking your periods, which will enable to plan ahead and make the right modifications to your training, nutrition and lifestyle.

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