3 simple ways to reduce PMS and lose weight

"That time of the month" can be aggravating for any woman but fitness expert and author Ellen Barrett says it's a blessing and not a curse.  Her book 'The 28 Days Lighter Diet' maps out how women can use their menstrual cycle to achieve optimal wellness


Every month a whopping 85 percent of American women experience pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), suffering from moodiness, back pain, bloating, irritability or other discomforts. 

Most of these women believe PMS is just “part of being a woman” but research shows that nutrition and exercise can play a big role in minimizing symptoms or even curing the disease all together.  Plus, women who suffer from PMS are more likely to be overweight or dissatisfied with their bodies, so relieving PMS may help with those issues.

To help women end PMS and lose weight at the same time, Kate Hanley and I wrote a new book, The 28 Days Lighter Diet.

In the book, we reference several recent studies that found that PMS symptoms are consistently found in women who are magnesium and calcium deficient. Increasing these mineral stores in your body may help reduce, or perhaps even eliminate, PMS from your life.

Deficiency in magnesium used to be rare because the nutrient is found in a variety of readily available foods – green vegetables like spinach, cashews and other nuts, beans, seeds and chocolate – but it’s very common these days because our food supply has been de-mineralized from overly farmed land and genetically modified ingredients. Step one in ending PMS – aim for 400mg of magnesium/day!

More On This...

Calcium has been show to ease the emotional symptoms associated with PMS, such as mood swings and depression. Calcium is also related to weight management. If you don’t have sufficient calcium in your diet, it is extremely difficult not to gain weight!

So how do we get more calcium? Sesame seeds, dark green leafy vegetables, quinoa and beans are awesome plant sources. The 28 Days Lighter Diet has a recipe section that utilizes these nutrient-dense ingredients. Step two in ending PMS – aim for 1,000 mg of calcium/day. * One caveat: in order for the body to properly absorb calcium, it needs plenty of vitamin D and vitamin D is best obtained by sunshine.

The third step to ending PMS is break-a-sweat cardio exercise, especially during pre-menstruation (the week before your period). This can reduce water retention and exercise’s endorphin kick is a natural anti-depressant. Some great options are a 45-minute power walk, a 2-hour hike, a long bike ride or a low-impact dance class. At about the 30-minute mark, endorphins are released into your bloodstream, so duration is important – move for at least 45 minutes to guarantee the proper endorphin dose.

This is all such great news, right? We can end PMS once and for all, and we can do it ourselves, through nutrition and exercise.

Ellen Barrett is a women’s wellness expert, known worldwide as the creator of best-selling DVD workouts, including Prevention magazine’s Flat Belly Diet series. She starred in FIT TV’s long-running show, All Star Workouts and serves on the health advisory board for Family Circle magazine. The 28 Days Lighter Diet (Skirt!, 2014) is her fourth book. For more information about Ellen, visit