Cycle Syncing: Nutrition & Supplements For Menstruation

January 03, 2022

Cycle Syncing: Nutrition & Supplements For Menstruation

In This Article:

  • Understanding Cycle Syncing
  • Menstruation, Follicular, Ovulation, & Luteal cycles.
  • Cycle Syncing & Lifestyle Practices
  • Nutrition & Supplements for each phase of your cycle

What is Cycle Syncing?

Cycle syncing is the practice of tuning into the rhythm of your menstrual cycle and adjusting your sleep, nutrition, physical activity, and schedule to complement your current menstrual phase. The phrase and principles gained popularity with Alisa Vitti's book Woman Code and the release of the MyFlo app she helped develop.

Menstrual cycles last an average of 28 days and menstruation (the bleeding phase) can last anywhere from three to seven days. Tracking your individual rhythm is crucial because the total length of your cycle and the days within each phase are unique.

Although no two ladies are exactly the same, here's an overview of the four major phases of a 28-day cycle with info on changes occurring in your reproductive system and the hormone fluctuations that accompany them.

Menstruation (Days 1-5)

  • Lining of the uterus sheds, causing bleeding
  • Estrogen and progesterone are low

Follicular (Days 6-14)

  • Starts on the first day of menstruation and ends with ovulation
  • Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) prompts the ovaries to release follicles which each house an egg
  • Uterine lining thickens
  • Estrogen and progesterone rise

Ovulation (Days 15-17)

  • Rising estrogen peaks and prompts the hypothalamus to release gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which signals the pituitary gland to produce luteinizing hormone (LH) and FSH
  • The ovaries release an egg into the fallopian tube in response to high LH
  • Eggs will live about 24 hours and either meet a sperm or die
  • Levels of testosterone and progesterone rise

Luteal (Days 18-28)

  • The follicle (that previously housed an egg) transforms into the corpus luteum, which releases progesterone and some estrogen
  • If a fertilized egg implants in the uterus, the corpus luteum is maintained, and pregnancy hormones are released to support the uterine lining
  • If a fertilized egg doesn't implant, the corpus luteum will die, and progesterone drops, causing the uterine lining to be shed in menstruation and a return to the beginning of the cycle

How to Start Cycle Syncing

If you're not currently tracking your periods, it's time to start. You can keep a record in your digital calendar, a health app, or a paper notebook. Consistent information is more critical than the format, so choose whatever method will be easiest for you to maintain.

Cycle syncing is about more than predicting what day your period starts. You'll want to log physical, mental, and emotional symptoms throughout the month, along with energy levels and any anomalies. The more you observe, the more in tune with your body you'll become as you grow in self-awareness.

When you observe how your lifestyle and cycle are interconnected, you can adjust your schedule and habits to capitalize on high-energy phases and understand that sometimes you need more rest, less intense workouts, and nourishing foods in your diet.

Consider how cycle syncing affects your lifestyle in the areas of:

  • Sleep and rest
  • Exercise
  • Schedule and social commitments
  • Sex
  • Nutrition and diet

Rest & reflection are ideal during the menstrual phase. You may feel more analytical during this time. Take note of your insights, ideas, and plans. Since your energy level may be low, give yourself more rest and enjoy low-intensity workouts like walking, yoga, or Pilates.

During your follicular phase, you may experience a burst of energy and creativity. This is the time to brainstorm, challenge yourself, tackle a new workout and increase the intensity. Although you may experience an energy surge, you still need downtime and 7-9 hours of sleep every night–remember to pace yourself.

Your natural energy level and libido will peak when your ovulatory phase rolls around. Because this is the critical time for fertilizing an egg, your body is sending biological signals to make you attractive in every aspect (whether you're trying to get pregnant or not).

This is your time to shine and the ideal window for communication, social activity, and sex. For your workouts, focus on strength and endurance routines. You may find you have the energy for longer fat-burning workouts; just be sure to avoid overheating and properly cool down.

Hormones peak at the beginning of the luteal phase then fall, and PMS symptoms may rear their ugly head. With all the fluctuating hormones at play, take time to set boundaries, rest more, focus on completing tasks, and take care of yourself.

You may have more energy for exercise the first few days of the luteal phase, but need to taper as the week progresses. Be sure to listen to your body and keep moving in a way that supplements your energy and doesn't drain it.

Best Nutrients and Supplements for Your Menstrual Cycle

Good nutrition is one of the best ways to support your body through every phase of your menstrual cycle. With hormone levels rising and falling, your micronutrient and macronutrient needs will also vary. Pay attention to your cravings and make sure that throughout the entire month you're eating vegetables and fruits, avoiding processed foods and sugar, and drinking plenty of water.

What to Eat in the Menstrual Phase (Days 1-7)

According to FloApp, the menstrual phase is the time for soups and stews, proteins, fasts, and low glycemic veggies. Here are some key nutrients to replace minerals lost in menstrual blood, combat fatigue and nervousness, and reduce cramping and inflammation.

  • Iron: red meat, chicken, mussels, fish, fortified cereals, beans
  • Zinc: beef, oysters, nuts, and seeds
  • Vitamin C: citrus fruits, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli
  • Anti-inflammatory foods, supplements, and spices: turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, parsley

If you experience heavy bleeding, research has shown that Boswellia Serrata (Indian Frankincense) can decrease the amount and length of bleeding during menstruation.

This supplement is also helpful with dysmenorrhea.

Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) are common for many women around their period. Cramping can be caused by excess levels of prostaglandins, which are linked to inflammation. Instead of taking an over the counter anti-inflammatory medication, natural remedies like Boswellia Serrata extract can help reduce inflammation and pain.

Cycle Syncing: Nutrition & Supplements for Menstruation

What to Eat in the Follicular Phase (Days 8-14)

The follicular phase and its accompanying rise in hormones technically start with menstruation. As you transition out of the bleeding phase of your period and FSH increases, be sure to incorporate the following foods to help with sustained energy and healthy digestion.

  • Fresh vegetables
  • Lean protein
  • Whole grains and complex carbohydrates
  • Fermented and probiotic-rich foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, or kefir

What to Eat in the Ovulatory Phase (Days 15-17)

Sugar cravings may increase during the ovulatory phase. Instead of processed sugar and high-fat desserts, enjoy antioxidant-rich dark chocolate and healthy sweet treats like dates and fresh and dried fruits.

To promote gut health and regulate the digestive system, drink plenty of water and eat fiber-rich foods to help ease bloating, prevent constipation, and promote bowel regularity. Fiber, leafy greens, and glutathione also support liver detoxification.

  • Raw veggies and fruits
  • Antioxidant-rich foods: berries, artichoke, kale, dark chocolate
  • Beans, legumes, lentils
  • Glutathione - considered your body's "master antioxidant" and crucial for immune health

What to Eat in the Luteal Phase (Days 18-28)

One study found that regularly menstruating women between 18-44 years old had a significant increase in appetite and cravings for salty foods, sweet foods, and chocolate during the late luteal phase. Data also showed an increase in animal protein intake during this phase. Sugar cravings may be a sign that your body needs more magnesium and calcium.

  • Leafy greens:
  • B vitamins - especially B6 and B12
  • Calcium: dairy products, salmon, tofu
  • Magnesium: pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, beans
  • Omega-3 rich foods and supplements

Research shows that omega-3 fish oil supplements were more effective than ibuprofen to treat dysmenorrhea (painful cramping) before and at the start of the menstrual cycle.

Nutrition and Menstrual Cycle Syncing

Your body has changing needs throughout your monthly cycle. As you tune in to your personal rhythm, you can take better care of yourself and improve your energy levels and immune function with the right level of rest, activity, and tailored nutrition.

Whenever possible, use healthy foods and all-natural supplements like vegan omega-3s, boswellia serrata, and glutathione to lower inflammation and improve imbalances.*

-Stephanie Hodges, MS in Nutrition and Exercise Science

Article Summary:

  • Cycle syncing is the practice of tuning into the rhythm of your menstrual cycle and adjusting your sleep, nutrition, physical activity, and schedule to complement your current menstrual phase
  • Menstruation (Days 1-5); Follicular (Days 6-14); Ovulation (Days 15-17), & Luteal (Days 18-28) Phases
  • Cycle syncing is about more than predicting what day your period starts. You'll want to log physical, mental, and emotional symptoms throughout the month, along with energy levels and any anomalies
  • What to eat & how to supplement during each phase of the menstrual cycle for healthy hormones & energy

Article References:

Menstrual cycle. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/menstrual-cycle

Fertility Awareness-Based Methods of Family Planning. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/fertility-awareness-based-methods-of-family-planning

The effect of frankincense (Boswellia serrata, oleoresin) and ginger (Zingiber officinale, rhizoma) on heavy menstrual bleeding: A randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30670277/

Changes in macronutrient, micronutrient, and food group intakes throughout the menstrual cycle in healthy, premenopausal women. Comparison of the effect of fish oil and ibuprofen on treatment of severe pain in primary dysmenorrhea https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s00394-015-0931-0.pdf

Comparison of the effect of fish oil and ibuprofen on treatment of severe pain in primary dysmenorrhea: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3770499/

If you experience heavy bleeding, research has shown that Boswellia Serrata (Indian Frankinscence) can decrease the amount and length of bleeding during menstruation.





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