How To Lose Weight On Birth Control – 5 Proven Ways You Should Try In 2024

Chelsea Rae Bourgeois, MS, RDN, LD
Wondering how to lose weight on birth control in 2024? Learn five strategies that help you maintain a healthy weight in the long term.
how to lose weight on birth control
Adopting a holistic approach to weight loss creates long-term results. Photo: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock

If you notice weight gain while taking birth control, you might wonder if the hormone change is to blame. While it’s common to assume birth control leads to weight gain, the truth is that a myriad of factors come into play. That’s why you’ll want to take a holistic approach when losing weight.

So, if you want to know how to lose weight on birth control, read on to learn the five best science-backed strategies for long-term success.

How To Lose Weight On Birth Control

  1. Choose the best birth control for you.
  2. Focus on nutrient-dense foods.
  3. Get active.
  4. Manage stress.
  5. Practice self-compassion.

5 Best Ways To Lose Weight On Birth Control

If you’re wondering how to lose birth control weight, you might be happy to learn that you could just be bloated. Fluid retention[1] is a potential side effect of birth control that usually dissipates within the first few months. Otherwise, the weight gain is more likely due to other lifestyle factors. 

Here’s how to take a holistic approach to your weight loss journey:

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Choose The Best Birth Control For You

The best birth control for weight loss and overall health depends on your individual needs. First, you should always thoroughly research all your birth control options and the potential side effects yourself. From there, talk with your doctor to decide which method would work best for you.

In general, combined hormonal birth control pills don’t have any evidence to back up weight gain claims,[2] but there are other side effects[1] to watch out for — which we will list later on.

For some women, the shot[3] might be associated with weight gain. However, this also depends on individual factors, like genetics and lifestyle habits.

Focus On Nutrient-Dense Foods

how to lose weight on birth control
Adding more nutrient-dense foods to your diet aids weight loss. Photo: RossHelen/Shutterstock

Whether you want to lose weight or just feel better, foods rich in vitamins and minerals are key. Nutrient-dense foods[4] give you energy, reduce inflammation, boost your immune system and mental health, and lead to better weight management. 

Start slow and add nutritious foods to your day in a way that’s easy and manageable in the long term. For example:

  • Make smoothies for snacks: Add frozen berries, half a banana, a handful of spinach, a cup of coconut milk, and supplements[5] like protein powder for a rich, creamy, energizing drink. 
  • Add a serving of veggies to one meal: Adding an extra half-cup of cooked green or orange veggies, like broccoli or carrots, is a great way to add extra nutrients and filling fiber.
  • Have fruit for dessert: If you’re still hungry after a meal or just need a snack, turn to fruit. A cup of papaya, three-fourths cup of sliced mango, or half a cup of berries can be incredibly filling thanks to a high water content and deliciously sweet taste! Plus, the internet is full of amazing healthy dessert recipes that use fruits and veggies instead of sugar and flour — don’t knock it till you try it!
  • Pack a handful of raw nuts: Keeping fruit or nuts in your bag is a great way to have something healthy on hand. It might keep that hangry feeling at bay if dinner is running late and stop you from ordering unhealthy food. 

You don’t have to eat a perfectly healthy diet to lose weight. Start with one small healthy addition to your day, and you’re well on your way to long-term success. Most health professionals recommend this method rather than crash dieting or taking fat burners.

Get Active

The latest Physical Activity Guidelines[6] recommend 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise a week — and while that might sound boring or overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be! 

Movement isn’t just about burning calories; it’s for fun, too! That feel-good endorphin release isn’t just for marathon runners. You can get it by dancing to your favorite tunes, doing yoga, rollerblading, or trying a fitness class.

If the gym sounds intimidating, what about getting a mat and weights to try fun online workouts at home? For some, heading outdoors is best. Walking in nature also has the added benefits of being away from screens, surrounded by green space, breathing in fresh air, and getting quiet time. This can also reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.[7]

So forget that exercise means hitting the gym four times a week and experimenting with fun ways to move your body — focus on what feels good.

Manage Stress

how to lose weight on birth control
Practice daily stress-relieving activities, like socializing or walking in nature. Photo: Max4e Photo/Shutterstock

While some stress is a normal part of life, letting it build without taking action to manage it can make it harder to lose weight.[8] Think of small steps you can take to reduce stress. For example, a sleep schedule, socializing[9] with good friends, and practicing stress-relieving activities daily, such as 

  • Yoga.
  • Meditation.
  • Journaling.
  • Time in nature.
  • Enjoyable hobbies.
  • Breathing exercises.
  • Dance or art therapy.

Practice Self-Compassion

Our mental health directly impacts our physical health. One of the most overlooked healthy weight-loss habits is how we speak to ourselves. Research shows that self-compassion can reduce depression and anxiety,[10] creating a domino effect that spreads to every area of our lives, including weight loss.[11] 

It’s not easy to start if you’re used to being self-critical, but here are some ways to begin:

  • Write a compassionate note to yourself every morning or night. 
  • Put sticky notes around your home with compassionate reminders. 
  • Meditate a few minutes a day, focusing on being compassionate and kind to yourself.
  • Stop using social media if it makes you compare yourself to others and feel down.
  • Ask yourself, “Would I speak this way to my best friend or child?” 
  • Seek support with a professional therapist or support group. 

Does Birth Control Make You Gain Weight?

While some women may experience weight gain after starting birth control, many don’t notice any difference. If anything, weight gain associated with the birth control pill might just be fluid retention.[12] 

Your weight depends on several factors, such as:

  • Age.
  • Diet.
  • Genetics. 
  • Stress levels.
  • Muscle mass.
  • Activity levels.  
  • Type of birth control.

Some contraceptive shots[13] are more closely associated with weight gain in some women. However, extensive research[12] on the combination oral contraceptive pill hasn’t been able to show any direct or consistent link with significant weight gain. The combination pill[14] is the most common form of birth control and includes the hormones estrogen[15] and progestin.[16] 

So while weight gain might be a common concern[2] for women interested in starting the pill, science shows it’s not a side effect to worry about. 

Other Side Effects Of Birth Control

Talk to your doctor before taking birth control and thoroughly research the potential side effects,[1] which may include:

  • Headaches. 
  • Sore breasts.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Reduced bone density. 
  • Shifts in moods or libido. 
  • Bloating or fluid retention. 
  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Changes in menstrual flow. 
  • Reduced menstrual cramps. 
  • Increased risk of blood clots. 
  • Interactions with other medications.
  • Potential small increase in the risk of breast cancer, heart attack, or stroke.

Many of the minor side effects, like headaches or bloating, usually occur within the first few months and dissipate with time. While the combination pill[14] isn’t associated with weight gain, there is some evidence of a link with depression. However, further research is needed. 

The progestin-only pill also risks developing fluid-filled cysts[17] on your ovaries, which aren’t dangerous and usually disappear without treatment. Progestin-only contraceptives also have limited evidence of weight gain.[18] 

Birth Control Alternatives 

If you want to avoid hormonal birth control, there are several other options:

  • Barrier methods: condoms, diaphragms, or cervical caps all prevent sperm from reaching the egg.
  • Non-hormonal IUDs: Copper intrauterine devices, or IUDs,[19] create an environment in the uterus that makes it difficult for the sperm to reach an egg and survive. 
  • Tubal ligation: Women can undergo a surgical procedure[20] that severs or seals the fallopian tubes.
  • Natural family planning: track your menstrual cycle[21] to estimate when you’re ovulating and avoid unprotected sex during this time.

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If you’re wondering how to lose weight gained from birth control, you should know that you might just be experiencing fluid retention — especially if it’s within the first few months of starting hormonal birth control pills. 

Countless studies show very limited evidence that hormonal birth control causes weight gain. So if you are noticing extra weight, it could be bloating or the result of other lifestyle factors, like diet, stress, and activity levels. 

You can lose weight while on birth control; you just have to take a holistic approach and work on developing healthier lifestyle habits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it harder to lose weight on birth control?

No conclusive evidence suggests that birth control makes it harder to lose weight. Taking a holistic approach[22] works best for weight loss: eat healthily, get active, manage stress, and practice self-compassion.

How long after stopping birth control will I lose weight?

Birth control is unlikely to cause significant weight gain. It may cause fluid retention, which usually dissipates within the first few months. So, how long does it take to lose weight? It depends on your lifestyle, age, starting weight, health condition, and genetics.

How do you lose weight after stopping birth control?

Focus on eating nutrient-dense foods, exercising regularly in a way you enjoy, and managing stress daily. Don’t forget about the importance of practicing self-compassion — weight loss journeys come with many ups and downs, so you’ll want to give yourself some grace. 

What birth control causes the most weight gain?

A progestin-only injection is more associated with gaining weight than other methods, but only in some women. However, science shows that most hormonal birth control pills don’t typically cause weight gain.


  1. Health (2020). Contraception – the combined pill. [online] Available at:
  2. Elizabeth Rose Mayeda, Torgal, A.H. and Westhoff, C. (2014). Weight and Body Composition Changes During Oral Contraceptive Use in Obese and Normal Weight Women. Journal of Womens Health, [online] 23(1), pp.38–43. doi:
  3. NHS Choices (2023). The contraceptive injection – Your contraception guide. [online] Available at:
  4. CDC (2021). Benefits of Healthy Eating. [online] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at:
  5. VanDoren, C. (2023). PhenQ Reviews — Should You Try This Diet Pill In 2023? [online] National Coalition on Health Care. Available at:
  6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018) Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. [online] Available at:
  7. Deborah Rohm Young, Hong, B., Lo, T., Inzhakova, G., Cohen, D.A. and Sidell, M. (2022). The longitudinal associations of physical activity, time spent outdoors in nature and symptoms of depression and anxiety during COVID-19 quarantine and social distancing in the United States. Preventive Medicine, [online] 154, pp.106863–106863. doi:
  8. Rica, N., Astrup, A., Mads Fiil Hjorth, Anders Sjödin, L. Pijls and C. Rob Markus (2017). Does stress influence sleep patterns, food intake, weight gain, abdominal obesity and weight loss interventions and vice versa? Obesity Reviews, [online] 19(1), pp.81–97. doi:
  9. Jaremka, L.M., Fagundes, C.P., Peng, J., Belury, M.A., Andridge, R., Malarkey, W.B. and Kiecolt‐Glaser, J.K. (2015). Loneliness predicts postprandial ghrelin and hunger in women. Hormones and Behavior, [online] 70, pp.57–63. doi:
  10. Elisa Anne Inwood and Ferrari, M. (2018). Mechanisms of Change in the Relationship between Self-Compassion, Emotion Regulation, and Mental Health: A Systematic Review. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-being, [online] 10(2), pp.215–235. doi:
  11. Hania Rahimi-Ardabili, Rеynolds, R., Vartanian, L.R., Victoria, L. and Zwar, N. (2017). A Systematic Review of the Efficacy of Interventions that Aim to Increase Self-Compassion on Nutrition Habits, Eating Behaviours, Body Weight and Body Image. Mindfulness, [online] 9(2), pp.388–400. doi:
  12. Gallo, M.F., Lopez, L.M., Grimes, D.A., Carayon, F., Schulz, K.F. and Helmerhorst, F.M. (2014). Combination contraceptives: effects on weight. The Cochrane library. [online] doi:
  13. Oshodi, Y.A., Agbara, J.O., Ade, O., Fatimat Motunrayo Akinlusi, Haleemah Folasade Olalere and Kuye, T.O. (2019). Weight gain and menstrual abnormalities between users of Depo-provera and Noristerat. International journal of reproduction, contraception, obstetrics and gynecology, [online] 8(6), pp.2226–2226. doi:
  14. NHS Choices (2023). Combined pill – Your contraception guide. [online] Available at:
  15. Hamilton, K., Hewitt, S.C., Arao, Y. and Korach, K.S. (2017). Estrogen Hormone Biology. Current Topics in Developmental Biology, [online] pp.109–146. doi:
  16. García-Sáenz, M., Raúl Ibarra-Salce, Francisco Javier Pozos-Varela, Tania Sofía Mena-Ureta, Flores-Villagómez, S., Santana-Mata, M., De, G., Uribe-Cortés, D. and Ferreira‐Hermosillo, A. (2023). Understanding Progestins: From Basics to Clinical Applicability. Journal of Clinical Medicine, [online] 12(10), pp.3388–3388. doi:
  17. NHS Choices (2023). The progestogen-only pill – Your contraception guide. [online] Available at:
  18. Lopez, L.M., Ramesh, S., Chen, M., Edelman, A., Otterness, C., Trussell, J. and Helmerhorst, F.M. (2016). Progestin-only contraceptives: effects on weight. The Cochrane library, [online] 2016(8). doi:
  19. NHS Choices (2023). Intrauterine device (IUD) – Your contraception guide. [online] Available at:
  20. Mills, K., Marchand, G., Sainz, K., Azadi, A., Ware, K., Vallejo, J., Anderson, S., King, A., Osborn, A., Ruther, S., Brazil, G., Cieminski, K., Hopewell, S., Rials, L. and Klipp, A. (2021). Salpingectomy vs tubal ligation for sterilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, [online] 224(3), pp.258-265.e4. doi:
  21. Yu, J.-G., Su, Y.-F., Zhang, C., Jin, L., Lin, X.-H., Chen, L., Huang, H.-F. and Wu, Y. (2022). Tracking of menstrual cycles and prediction of the fertile window via measurements of basal body temperature and heart rate as well as machine-learning algorithms. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, [online] 20(1). doi:
  22. Rae Jean Proeschold‐Bell, Steinberg, D., Yao, J., Eagle, D.E., Smith, T.W., Cai, G. and Turner, E.L. (2018). Using a holistic health approach to achieve weight-loss maintenance: results from the Spirited Life intervention. Translational behavioral medicine, [online] 10(1), pp.223–233. doi:‌

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