Optimize The Four Phases of Your Cycle With These Foods and Supplements!

Much like the Earth’s changing seasons, a woman’s body goes through different cycles throughout most of her lifetime. When a woman first gets her period, this is the start of a long journey of many changes a woman’s body will go through. Every month, a woman’s body prepares for pregnancy, and if pregnancy does not occur it results in menstruation. During this time the uterus lining sheds and flows out of the vagina. While the menstrual part of the cycle might be the most visibly noticeable, the three other phases of a woman’s cycle within a month are important and have a role to play. The total four phases of a cycle include:

  1. Menstruation
  2. The follicular phase
  3. Ovulation
  4. The luteal phase

In this blog post, we’re going to break down what is happening internally in each phase of the cycle and how you can optimize how you feel by integrating specific foods and tools to feel your best! 

What is cycle syncing?

As a woman, you’ve probably experienced fluctuations in your mood, energy levels, and interests over the course of the month. It can almost feel like we have four different versions of ourselves and change is occurring in cycles. All of this is normal, as our body goes through changes on the inside that we simply cannot see. Cycle syncing is simply about adapting health and lifestyle habits towards each phase of the cycle in order to optimize how you feel. Hormonal changes occur in each phase of a woman’s cycle, and knowing what phase your in can give you the empowerment to make choices that are in alignment with your health during this time. 

Menstrural phase

Day one of your period is the first day of the menstrual cycle. During this time estrogen and progesterone levels drop in the body. Getting your period can often result in different symptoms from month to month, some of the most common include:

  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Lower back pain

At this time of the cycle keeping your body satiated with nutrient dense foods and opting for lower intensity exercises such as walking or yoga can be some of the best options to feel better. In terms of what foods to focus on, experts suggest eating more iron rich foods, since this is a nutrient that can be lost with blood. Some good examples of iron rich foods include: spinach, legumes, turkey, quinoa, broccoli, tofu, and even dark chocolate! At this time of the cycle, many women are prone to being in a low-energy state which also makes it a good time for self-care and engaging in journaling, meditation, and breathing.

Follicular phase

The follicular phase starts on the first day of your period and lasts about 14 days (2 weeks) until the ovulatory phase. This is the longest phase of the cycle and internally this is the time that fluid filled sacs called follicles house immature eggs in the ovaries. During this time estrogen begins to increase and with that, energy levels and overall mood begins to improve. After mensuration stops, you’ll start to feel like your more energetic self again! This is a good time within the cycle to start engaging in higher intensity workouts such as HIIT, boxing, strength training, and running. This time of the cycle is about reset and recovery, a great time to focus on getting adequate amounts of protein in the diet. Complex carbs and Vitamin B rich foods are also suggested at this time to help with boosting energy and mood. Some of the top food suggestions at this time are:

  • Flax seeds/pumpkin seeds
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Avocado
  • Olive Oil
  • Sweet Potato
  • Eggs
  • Lean protein (chicken, turkey, beef)

With the shift in energy levels and happier mood, this is the time of the cycle where you might feel more upbeat and willing to socialize, try new hobbies or classes, and plan some date nights!

Ovulation phase

Ovulation occurs around the middle of the 4 cycles. The time where the body is the most fertile and chances of pregnancy are higher. Ovulation happens when a mature egg is released from the ovary and has the potential to be fertilized by sperm, resulting in new life. Some of the symptoms you might notice during this time of the cycle include:

  • Cervical mucus changes
  • Heightened senses
  • Heightened sex drive
  • Breast tenderness
  • Mild abdominal pain

The high levels of estrogen at this time may also make you feel more social, flirtatious, confident, and beautiful. At this time the skin is likely to look brighter and even make your skin glow. In terms of diet and lifestyle at this time of the cycle, focusing on fibre rich and hydrating foods are a great choice. Fibre rich foods help to flush out any excess estrogen that the body doesn’t need. Eating lots of fresh vegetables and fruits are a great choice. 

Luteal phase

This part of the phase occurs the day after ovulation until the period arrives. During this time the body prepares the uterus for pregnancy by thickening the lining. The ovaries make progesterone during this phase of the cycle and some of the roles that progesterone play in the body as a messenger include:

  • Thickening of the uterus lining 
  • Regulating bleeding 
  • Supporting pregnancy if conception occurs
  • Support of thyroid function

During this part of the phase, symptoms of PMS can be common which include: mood changes, tender breasts, acne breakouts, cravings, and even bloating. During this time of the cycle, foods that best support the body and your hormones should be high in magnesium, zinc, and Vitamin C. Some great options include nuts, seeds, beans, oysters, citrus fruits, dark chocolate, and bananas. Progesterone may cause blood sugar to dip which can result in anxiety and heightened emotions. For this reason, balancing blood sugar levels are essential! In terms of movement, experts recommend lower intensity workouts with longer recovery times. Some good examples can be yoga, pilates, and swimming.

Without knowing how our cycles work, we can feel left in the dark about why we feel the symptoms we do. On the other hand, by understanding what is actually happening internally, we can make empowered choices when it comes to our diet, lifestyle, and workouts resulting in us woking with our cycles instead of against it. One of the best pieces of advice we can give is to actually tune in and listen to your body. It’s always giving little signs and cues about what it needs. Pay attention to how you feel after what you consume and make choices that tends to your garden!

Alexia Palmeri

Alexia Palmeri is a 28-year-old personal development enthusiast! She looks at life experiences as an opportunity to always learn and grow. Alexia is also a broadcast journalism graduate with a passion and knack for communications and media. She is always on the lookout for new trends on social media and keeps up to date with what's happening in the world. In her free time, Alexia enjoys socializing with family and loved ones, being in nature, cooking nourishing meals, and discovering new places to dine and adventure!

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