Dealing with your cycle can often be more frustrating than anything. Before doing more research about my cycle, I would experience mood changes and bodily fluctuations without really understanding what was going on at all. People with periods have cycles that are broken into four distinct phases. Within these phases, there are different ways one can support their body, as the body is experiencing different hormones and processes. A few of these ways are changing your exercise and diet based on menstrual cycle phases.
As broken down by Clue, one’s cycle includes a menstrual phase, a follicular phase, an ovulatory phase, and a luteal phase. There can be a lot of fluctuation as to how long each phase lasts, however, because everyone’s body is different.
In the diagram above, the lines running throughout the phases of the ovarian cycle represent different hormonal fluctuations. Because of these fluctuations, different foods and methods of exercise can be more supportive and effective for one’s body at certain times over others. While there isn’t any harm in not eating and exercising in coordination with one’s cycle, there are also many people who report experiencing fewer negative symptoms when they opt into changing their exercise and diet based on menstrual cycle phases.
The Menstrual Phase
This phase occurs during one’s period. Throughout the bleeding, symptoms such as cramps, irritability, back pain, acne, and more are common. With lower hormonal and energy levels, the menstrual phase is a great time to take it easy and nourish the body.
As for moving your body, there are several recommended low-impact exercises for one’s menstrual phase. Because of the drop in estrogen and energy levels, very light exercises like yoga, stretching, and walking are often considered most beneficial. This Yoga With Adriene video lesson for yoga for cramps and PMS is a great option!
Other activities that are recommended during the menstrual phase include integrating more time for rest into one’s routine, like journaling, receiving a massage, or practicing self-massage.
Foods that are recommended for supporting one’s body through the menstrual phase include warm, easily digestible options that are dense in nutrients and minerals. This is also a great time to include more healthy fats and proteins to support the low energy levels. The following recipes are all great menstrual phase options:
- This wholesome Minestrone Soup with Cannellini beans, swiss chard, and spinach is a warm and cozy dinner option.
- This veggie tater tot casserole is nutrient-rich, warm, and oh-so-delicious.
- This Blackberry Almond Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal will certainly satisfy your sweet tooth while still providing supportive nutrients.
The Follicular Phase
The Follicular phase comes next and represents the body’s preparation process for ovulation. In order to do so, within this phase, the brain produces and builds up hormones. Within this phase, many notice pleasant changes in their skin, mood, and maybe even a boost in sex drive.
Working out and your follicular phase seem to go hand in hand a lot of the time. With increased energy levels, amping up your workouts during the follicular phase is a great way to get your body feeling good! Consider strength training, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), dance workouts, acro yoga, etc. This EMKFIT 2000’s HIIT dance workout is sure to get you moving through this phase of your cycle.
When cooking in your follicular phase, experts suggest opting for salads, roasted and fresh veggies, and lighter foods. Recommended ingredients to support one’s body in their follicular phase include eggs, broccoli, artichoke, zucchini, flax seeds, and tofu. Here are some recipe ideas to eat throughout your follicular phase:
- This Tuscan Artichoke Salad looks flavorful, colorful, and perfect for the follicular phase.
- These roasted broccoli tacos are perfect for fueling your follicular phase workouts!
The Ovulatory Phase
This phase is the shortest, as ovulation generally lasts just one or two days and marks the process of one’s egg dropping to the fallopian tube. Some symptoms people might experience in their ovulatory phase include nausea, breast tenderness, cramping, and change in discharge.
Cardio workouts are often recommended for the Ovulatory phase of one’s cycle. Some cardio options to try out include running, hiking, swimming, and biking.
Foods that are said to support one’s body throughout ovulation include corn, asparagus, red bell peppers, eggplant, apricot, coconut, raspberries, shrimp, and chocolate. Here are some recipes incorporating these ovulatory-phase-loving ingredients:
- These no-bake coconut apricot granola bars are a great way to support your body in cardio workouts!
- This Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Pasta
- Not only does this pistachio raspberry dark chocolate bark look heavenly, but it also contains ingredients that help fight ovulatory symptoms.
The Luteal Phase
Finally, within the Luteal phase there is a buildup of the hormone progesterone, which intends to prepare an egg for pregnancy should it be fertilized. With this and other hormonal changes, people begin experiencing their PMS symptoms, which are symptoms such as mood shifts, acne, tenderness, and bloating.
During the energy decline throughout the luteal phase, experts recommend undertaking endurance exercises at this time in your cycle. Some endurance exercises worth trying during your luteal phase include playing tennis, jogging, skating or playing basketball.
Foods that support your body best during this phase and throughout the PMS symptoms include brown rice, chickpeas, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, pears, peaches, and walnuts. During this phase, it is also important not to skimp out on carbs, as your body needs help with dropping energy levels. It is also suggested that people reduce their caffeine and alcohol intake when in the Luteal phase in order to support cramping before and during your period.
Some delicious recipes that will support your body through the luteal phase are as follows:
- If you’re craving something cozy, this cauliflower potato leek soup should do the trick!
- This Thai red cabbage and chickpea salad looks so delicious and nutritious
- This pear walnut honey tart is the perfect dessert for your Luteal phase
Will you try exercising and changing your diet based on menstrual cycle phases? Let us know what you think in the comments!