How to adapt your exercise, diet and lifestyle to your menstrual cycle
As women, it's surprising how little we're educated on about our menstrual cycles, especially given the massive impact they haveatdimensions of our well-being.
The term "cycle timing" was introduced in the book "Women's Code" by functional nutritionist Alisa Vitti, creator of the MyFlo app. Cycle timing is the practice of adjusting your lifestyle, diet, exercise, and even work routines to match the current phase of your menstrual cycle. Helps menstruators create routines that are in tune with their biological rhythms.
"It turns out that an infradian rhythm, also known as our monthly cycle, causes changes in our metabolism, brain, stress and other systems," says Vitti. “In short, we are not equal in the 4 phases of our menstrual cycle. We have different calorie, fitness and nutritional needs depending on what stage we're in," he says.
Advantages of cycle synchronization
When you live in tune with your menstrual cycle, you workconyour body instead of against it. By living in harmony with your natural rhythms, you will feel more balanced, energetic, healthier and more productive.
According to experts, cycle synchronization can also provide the following benefits:
- hormone balance
- Reduced PMS and period symptoms, including mood swings and anxiety
- more effective workouts
- Energy boost
- fertility support
- Increased sex drive
- healthy weight
- better sleep
- Improved wellbeing
A quick note on hormonal birth control:Hormonal birth control pills suppress your body's natural hormone phases so you don't experience a real cycle. As a result, cycle synchronization may not have the same impact.
Understand the phases of your menstrual cycle
To experience the benefits of cycle synchronization, we must first understand the menstrual cycle, its unique phases, and the key hormones involved.
Your menstrual cycle, the cyclical shedding of the lining of the womb, is a natural process that occurs each month to prepare your body for pregnancy. When you're not pregnant, your hormones send a signal to your uterus to shed its lining (this becomes your period).
Your cycle, which consists of four different phases, begins on the first day of your period and ends on the first day of your next period. The average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, but a cycle that goes from 21 to 35 days is still considered normal.
Menstrual phase (Days 1-5)
The first day of your period, when you start bleeding, is the start of a new hormonal cycle. Also known as menstruation, this phase occurs when you are actively bleeding (when your body sheds the lining of the womb) and usually lasts 3-7 days.
Progesterone and estrogen are at their lowest during this phase, which saps energy and can also affect your mood. Abdominal pain or cramps can occur due to contractions of the uterus when the lining of the uterus is shed. Some people may also experience headaches, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Follicular Phase (Days 6-14)
Your follicular phase begins after your bleeding has stopped and usually lasts 7-10 days. During this phase, your body begins to release the hormones necessary to stimulate the release of an egg (which occurs during ovulation) and also builds the lining of the uterus, which is shed during menstruation.
Hormones start out low, but estrogen and progesterone continue to rise, giving you more energy and helping improve your mood. Cramps and other symptoms are usually absent in the follicular phase.
Ovulationsphase (Tage 15-17)
During the ovulation phase (3 to 5 days), your body releases an egg into the fallopian tubes for fertilization.This phase of your cycle is also known as the "fertile window" because it is the only time when pregnancy can occur.
Although ovulation usually lasts between 16 and 32 hours (24 on average), it is possible to get pregnant in the five days leading up to ovulation. Because sperm can live in a person's body for up to five days, they could potentially fertilize an egg five days after intercourse.
During this phase, estrogen spikes and progesterone levels rise. This leads to peak libido, peak energy, and peak strength as your body prepares for the birth of a baby.
If pregnancy does not occur within 24 hours of ovulation, the unfertilized egg breaks down and estrogen levels drop, signaling a return to menstruation in about 14 days.
Lutealphase (Tage 18-28)
The luteal phase lasts an average of 10-14 days. After the release of an egg during ovulation, our body releases progesterone, which helps prepare the uterus for a possible pregnancy as it continues to peak during the mid-stage. As a result, you may still feel the energy of your ovulatory phase lasting into the early part of your luteal phase.
If pregnancy has not occurred, both estrogen and progesterone drop as the body prepares to re-enter the menstrual phase.
Typically, your energy levels will drop significantly in the second half of your luteal phase. You may feel more irritable, less sociable, and more introspective. PMS also occurs in this phase and can cause various symptoms.
Track your menstrual cycle:
To track your cycle, start by tracking your cycle length (from the first day of your period to the first day of your next period). This will give you an idea of what phase you are in on any given day. You can also track symptoms such as cervical fluid, energy and mood swings, and temperature. There are many apps to help track this information including Clue, Flo, Ovia Fertility, Eve by Glow, MyFlo and more.
Sync cycles: fitness, diet and lifestyle
Now that you have a better understanding of the different phases of your cycle, let's discuss how you can adjust your fitness, nutrition and lifestyle habits to best support each phase.
Physical fitness:WWalking, stretching, Pilates mat, gentle yoga, hiking
Your menstrual phase is the time to slow down your exercise and move in a way that doesn't put too much strain on your body and hormones.This is not the time to push yourself with intense workouts. In fact, intense exercise during this phase can be counterproductive: it puts a strain on the adrenal glands, increases fat storage, and causes muscle wasting.
Nourishment:During your menstrual phase, it's important to replenish your body with foods rich in iron, zinc, and minerals. Quality protein and healthy fats help stabilize your energy and mood, and foods high in magnesium and potassium can help with cramps and fluid retention. It's also incredibly important to stay well hydrated during this phase of your cycle.
What should be included in this phase:
- Vegetables:dark leafy greens, spinach, kale, broccoli, beets, arugula, sweet potatoes, root vegetables, mushrooms, sea veggies (duse, seaweed, and nori)
- Fruit:Blueberries, blackberries, avocado, watermelon, pomegranate, bananas
- Grain:Buckwheat, wild rice, quinoa, brown rice, lentil or chickpea noodles
- Healthy Fats:Flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, peanut butter, cashews, chia seeds, hemp seeds, almonds, coconut yogurt or kefir
- High quality protein:Salmon, lentils, kidney beans, adzuki beans, oysters, duck, grass-fed beef, eggs, offal
- Herbs and spices:Turmeric, Garlic, Ginger, Parsley, Cayenne Pepper, Cinnamon, Nettle
- Test:red raspberry leaf, chamomile, peppermint, dandelion, nettle
- Extras:Dark Chocolate, Nutritious Soups & Stews, Bone Broth, Molasses, Miso, Tamari/Liquid Aminos, Himalayan Salt, Trace Minerals
Lifestyle:Focus onCalm, self-care, reflection, compassion and nourishment.
- Your menstrual phase is considered the “winter” of your cycle: a time to rest, go inside, and prioritize self-care. Give yourself permission to really slow down by focusing on activities that nourish and soothe.
- Clarity and intuition are at their highest, so this is the best time to assess your life, make informed decisions, and determine the best way forward.
- This can also be a good time to work from home and avoid social gatherings.
Physical fitness:Low impact cardio, sculpting, pilates, light running, hiking, vinyasa yoga
During the follicular phase, after menstruation, hormone levels begin to rise. You'll have more energy and feel stronger, making it the perfect time for workouts that feel energizing and uplifting.
Focus on low-impact cardio and keep your workouts in the light-to-moderate range (you can sweat, but you shouldn't). This leads to muscle gain and better use of stored fat for fuel.
Nourishment:Your follicular phase is a good time to increase lighter protein sources, fuel your body with whole foods, and consume complex carbohydrates. Getting enough fiber and cruciferous vegetables is important to support your body's estrogen metabolism. In addition, foods rich in prebiotics and probiotics support your gut health.
What should be included in this phase:
- Vegetables:Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, collards, broccoli, leafy greens, artichokes, zucchini, carrots, peas, green beans, asparagus, onions
- Fruit:Lemons and Limes, Grapefruit, Oranges, Cherries, Avocado, Pomegranate, Plums, Tomatoes, Bananas
- Grain:Oats, barley, rye, wheat
- Healthy Fats:Linseed, pumpkin seeds, olives and olive oil, Brazil nuts, cashew nuts, coconut yoghurt, ghee, pasture butter
- High quality protein:Organic tofu, legumes, lentils, split peas, black-eyed peas, hemp protein, pea protein, salmon and other fatty fish,Free range chickens and eggs, seafood
- Herbs and spices:Ginger, Garlic, Chili, Parsley
- Test:Nettle, holy basil
- Extras:fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut, vinegar, sprouts
Lifestyle:Focus onCreativity, problem solving, brainstorming and intention setting.
- Your follicular phase is known as the "spring" of your cycle, and the surge in estrogen and progesterone makes you feel better, with a more positive mood, lots of energy, and an increased sex drive.
- Right now, women have the most access to creativity and problem solving. At this stage of your cycle, tackle big projects, explore new ideas, brainstorm, and plan important meetings.
- You'll also likely feel more sociable during this time, so make time for friends and family and get out and meet new people.
Physical fitness:HIIT, circuit training, boot camp, spinning, power yoga, strength training
During ovulation, testosterone and estrogen peak, maximizing your strength and potential. Harness your high energy with high-intensity exercise.
Your hormones are primed to fuel you, so this is the time to break personal records and work up a sweat. You can make an effort during this time and get great results.
Nourishment:Your hormones are at their peak, so you should focus on anti-inflammatory foods that help your body maintain balanced estrogen levels. Eat vitamin-rich foods, raw vegetables, and plenty of cruciferous vegetables to help the liver detoxify excess estrogen. Support muscle growth with high-protein, high-fiber, high-carbohydrate meals.
What should be included in this phase:
- Vegetables:Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, red peppers, eggplant, spinach, carrots, cucumber, chard, asparagus, fennel
- Fruit:Coconut, figs, strawberries, raspberries, apricots, melon, guava, persimmons, tomatoes, pineapple
- Grain:Quinoa, Amaranth
- Healthy Fats:Pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios, walnuts, almonds, hemp seeds, coconut yoghurt, olives, olive oil
- High quality protein:Lentils, Salmon, Eggs, Tuna, Pea Protein, Hemp Protein
- Herbs and spices:Dandelion, Burdock Root, Turmeric
- Extras:Maca, Kimchi, Sauerkraut, Apple Cider Vinegar, Bone Broth
Lifestyle:Focus onHave fun, be social, share your needs and show yourself!
- The ovulation phase is considered your inner “summer”: your hormone levels are at their peak, your energy is high and your mood is stable.
- This surge often makes you feel more focused, attractive, confident, sexy, and sociable. This is the time to ask for a raise, present new offers, socialize, negotiate deals, or participate in public speaking.
- This is the phase when you are most fertile. If you're trying to conceive, it's time to do it! If you don't want to get pregnant, be sure to use protection.
Physical fitness:Strength training, light circuit training, Pilates, yoga, walking
The luteal phase occurs after ovulation and up until menstruation, and during this time hormone levels fluctuate wildly. In the first half of your luteal phase, while your energy is still high, incorporate strength training, low-impact cardio, vinyasa yoga, and mat Pilates. Avoid higher-intensity cardiovascular exercise.
Once you notice your energy levels changing and you coming down from high estrogen levels, adjust your training accordingly. Focus on more restful movements as your next menstrual cycle approaches, such as B. Walking and gentler forms of yoga and Pilates.
Nourishment:Eat whole foods and foods to balance blood sugar. You may experience increased hunger around this time of the month as your metabolic rate increases. In this phase it is important to reduce carbohydrates: the body is more insulin resistant and has more trouble using carbohydrates.
Be sure to get B vitamins to keep your mood and energy up. Anti-inflammatory foods, foods rich in calcium, magnesium, and potassium, help fight fluid retention, reduce spasms, and relieve other PMS symptoms.
Drink plenty of water and avoid foods and drinks that trigger PMS symptoms, such as alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, red meat, and dairy.
What should be included in this phase:
- Vegetables:Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumber, Kale, Mustard, Onion, Parsnip, Squash, Radish, Squash, Potato, Sweet Potato
- Fruit:Apples, dates, raisins, pears, peaches, papaya, bananas
- Grain:brown rice, millet
- Healthy Fats:Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pine nuts, walnuts, coconut, almonds, chia seeds, coconut oil
- High quality protein:Lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, salmon, cod, sole
- Herbs and spices:Burdock Root, Dandelion, Ginger, Garlic, Turmeric, Cinnamon
- Test:red raspberry leaf, dandelion, ginger, mint
- Extras:dark chocolate, spirulina, coconut water
Note on fasting:Avoid fasting (including intermittent fasting) during the luteal phase. Fasting during this time can lead to a lack of nutrients and hormones needed in the days leading up to your menstrual cycle.
Lifestyle:Focus onSelf-love, self-care, administrative tasks, doing housework, honoring your body and setting personal boundaries.
- After you peak at ovulation, you enter the luteal phase, also known as your internal "dip." The energy will begin to drain and you will find yourself centered more and more inward.
- This is when PMS sets in, so it's important to support your body with proper rest, rest, and relaxation.
- Focus on administrative tasks, routine creation, organization, planning, research and execution of projects.
- If you find yourself feeling more introverted, give yourself permission to set boundaries and say no to social gatherings.
One of the most beautiful things about living on cycle is that you can begin to honor your natural ups and downs and truly embrace the changes your body is going through each month.
Remember everyone is different. Above all, it is important to listen to and honor your own body. Be patient, don't expect perfection and allow yourself grace. Cycle Sync aims to make your life easier, not more stressful. Start small and over time you will become more intuitive in living in tune with your natural rhythms. It's about welcoming and embracing the flow, and there's nothing more empowering than living in harmony with yourself and your body.
*We are not medical professionals. Ask your doctor for medical advice.*