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How To Lose Weight On Birth Control With Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting can help women lose weight while on birth control.
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Summary

Many women want to know how to lose weight while on birth control. Although research has shown no link between birth control and weight gain, many women still report weight and body shape changes. Intermittent fasting along with healthy eating, exercise, and adequate hydration can support healthy weight loss for women on hormonal contraceptives.

Written by
Jill Lebofsky
15+yr Women's Wellness Expert, Holistic Menopause Support, Intermittent Fasting, Midlife, Essential Oil, Author, Speaker

There is much debate about whether hormonal contraceptives such as birth control pills, vaginal rings, or skin patches contribute to weight gain.

The birth control pill is the most popular contraceptive worldwide after sterilization due to its convenience and how well it works(1). Estimates show that 14% of women ages 15-49 in the United States are on the pill while another 10% of women are using some other hormonal method of birth control(2). Most hormonal contraceptives consist of both estrogen and progesterone.

Some women do experience an increase on the scale, while others lose pounds while on birth control.

 

Possible reasons for weight gain on birth control 

Years ago, birth control contained much higher amounts of estrogen and progesterone than they do now. The high estrogen levels led to increased water retention and the high levels of progesterone to increased appetite.

There is no conclusive scientific evidence on the effects of current hormonal contraceptives and weight gain, but most feel there is no connection. Nowadays, hormonal levels in birth control have dropped from 150 micrograms (mcg) to around 20-50 mcg resolving most issues(3).

Some individual women may still be affected by experiencing temporary retention of water that subsides within a few weeks or months or having an increased appetite.

If a woman does notice weight gain once starting birth control, it may be coincidental as women not using birth control also gain weight over time. Starting in early adulthood, people put on over one pound each year which coincides with most women taking birth control(4).

But, some recent studies have shown that although the birth control pill may not cause weight gain, a woman can see a change in her body shape and composition(4).

Different types of fat react differently to certain hormones. Women accumulate fat in their hips, thighs, and breasts, areas containing lots of estrogen receptors.

It makes sense to conclude by adding in outside hormones via birth control and changing a woman's hormonal balance there could be a shift where she stores fat(4).

Another possibility for the higher number on the scale is eating more often. Some women report an increased appetite once starting birth control.

 

How intermittent fasting can help women lose weight while on birth control 

A red alarm clock on a turquoise background.

Regardless of the science, many women still connect hormonal contraceptives and changes in their weight and want to know how to lose weight when on birth control. Intermittent fasting can be the perfect solution.

There are different intermittent fasting methods, but they all focus on burning stored fat for energy by cycling through periods of eating and fasting. 

For women who want the intermittent fasting lifestyle to fit into their day's daily rhythm, try the 16/8 method, fasting for parts of the day, and eating whatever you like during an eating window.

If you are on birth control and have noticed increased hunger, a shorter daily fast may work better for you. Also, try the Alternate Day Fasting method or the 5:2 method. Both allow you full days of eating with no time or food restrictions and days where calories are restricted.

Because the combination of aging and birth control usage both contribute to body shape changes, particularly where fat is stored, switching to an intermittent fasting way of life can help women burn fat and lose weight.


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Other ways to lose weight on birth control 

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Using general techniques for weight loss is helpful whether on birth control or not.

Choosing to implement the following ideas into your daily routine can help support a healthy weight:

  • Eat healthy, nutritious foods – Focus on foods high in protein, healthy fat, fiber, and antioxidants for best results. Avoid high-calorie, high sugar, processed foods.

  • Exercise and move your body more – Burning extra calories through exercise will speed up your weight loss results. It also helps build and maintain lean muscle mass, which women tend to lose as they age, resulting in more calories burned at rest. Exercising on a fasted stomach can increase fat-burning potential.

  • Drink plenty of water – Frequently, hunger is mistaken for thirst. Make sure you are drinking adequate amounts of water throughout the day.

  • Practice self-care – Stress is a significant contributor to weight gain. Find ways to incorporate activities such as walking in nature, weekly massages, meditation into your life.

  

The takeaway

There is no concrete evidence that hormonal contraceptives contribute to a woman's weight gain, but there are many anecdotal stories. Therefore, women want to understand how to lose weight while on birth control. 

Women of all ages, many currently using hormonal birth control, in one large online intermittent fasting community report this way of eating has helped them lose weight and changed their life.  Intermittent fasting leads to weight and fat loss and has unexpected bonuses such as decreased inflammation, anti-aging benefits, and increased energy.


References:

  1. InformedHealth.org. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care; 2006. Contraception: Do hormonal contraceptives cause weight gain? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441582/
  2. Contraceptive Use. Centers For Disease Control 7 Prevention. 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/contraceptive.htm
  3. Liao PV, Dollin J. Half a century of the oral contraceptive pill: historical review and view to the future. Can Fam Physician. 2012;58(12):e757-e760.
  4. How the pill changes your body shape. BBC. 2018. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20181003-does-the-birth-control-pill-make-you-fat

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