Being a woman is intrinsically and beautifully dynamic. So it’s perfectly justified that each stage of your cycle feels different when you wake up in the morning. Hormone levels change and change throughout the cycle. As a result, you are never in the same hormonal state twice in a month. Women define flexibility, change, and going with the flow. That’s why understanding cycle synchronization and practicing it yourself is so important to experiencing optimal health.
Cycle synchronization is based on the idea of an ever-changing cascade of hormones. Tracking your cycle helps you understand the hormonal fluctuations that occur over the course of a month. From there, everything in your life—diet, exercise habits, and even skin care habits—can be structured accordingly to promote optimal functioning. The result is a better sense of balance in everyday life.
Want to learn more about Cycle Sync? Now, learn how to track your cycle and get tips for staying at your best during each stage.
Featured image from Michelle Nash’s interview with Jules Ackley.
before jumping in
Women’s health and hormones are a constant focus in modern medicine. What we know changes frequently, and there are still many areas of women’s health that are not well studied. Cycle-synchronizing habits are innate and promote supportive nutrition and attuned habits to your body.
All women can benefit from a greater understanding of our bodies. Additionally, the methods I teach cycle synchronization in this article only work for women who are not using hormonal contraception.
This article will focus primarily on what you should eat during each phase of your cycle. However, it is also important to pay attention to how you move your body and support your skin. If you want to know more about both topics, please refer to the following articles: Workout Cycle Sync and Skin Cycle Sync.
Editor’s Note: This article is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical care. Please consult your doctor before starting treatment.
Cycle Synchronization: What You Need to Know
You’ve probably heard about your period and the apps that track your period.I recommend Tips, but almost any is fine. You just need to know your menstrual cycle over the course of a month.
Compare your cycle to the information below to get an idea of when, where and what stage you are in. The most accurate timing results are obtained with 3-4 months of data.
Save your cycle sync guide below to help you with everything you need to know to feel your best every step of your cycle.
Menstrual period (days 1-5)
The lining of the uterus is sloughed off during menstruation. The hormone is at its lowest level at the beginning of the menstrual cycle and begins to increase to a more stable level at the end of menstruation. Blood and iron are lost, and prostaglandins that cause spasms peak. Usually you feel more introverted, slow, and at ease.
what to eat
To combat cramps, focus on nutritious foods that produce iron, aid iron absorption, and have anti-inflammatory properties. Bleeding causes water loss, so drink the most water you will have during the rest of the month.
Hydration: Drink at least 2 liters of water a day and stay well hydrated with decaffeinated teas. Add some kombucha to soothe your bowels when they get upset during your period.
protein: Grass-fed red meat, fish, chicken, duck, pork, shellfish, sardines, lentils, pinto beans, kidney beans, chickpeas.
Fruits and vegetables: Spinach, chard, kale, collard greens, broccoli, mushrooms, beets, peppers, root vegetables, citrus fruits, strawberries, cherries, pineapple, mango, papaya, blackberries, blueberries, turmeric.
Cereals: Wild rice, buckwheat.
Nuts and Seeds: Peanuts, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds.
Consider low-impact training such as walking, yoga, or Pilates. If you want a more intense workout, strength training or his HIIT is for you.
Follicular stage (days 6-13)
During the follicular phase, the body prepares the egg to be released. Estrogen and testosterone peak. You are usually the most confident and energetic here, able to think and act quickly.
what to eat
Support your body with energy-producing foods. Foods that are rich in vitamins, nutrients and that pack a punch are best here. Drink plenty of water to maintain your habits.
Hydration: At least 2 liters per day. Add frozen fruit as ice cubes to water, lemon or lime juice for an extra boost of energy.
protein: Grass-fed red meat, fish, poultry, lamb, eggs and dairy.
Fruits and vegetables: Artichokes, broccoli, lettuce, snap peas, kale, green beans, green peas, carrots, sprouts, artichokes, parsley, sweet potatoes, avocados, citrus, bananas, apples, apricots, kiwis, blueberries.
Cereals: Quinoa, brown rice, lentils, oats, rye.
Nuts and Seeds: Chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, almonds, walnuts, hemp seeds, brazil nuts.
Make the most of your extra energy, get the most exercise, and be the most active. Exercise of all kinds is encouraged. If building muscle is your goal, focus on: Weight training and HIIT.
Ovulation period (day 14)
During this stage, the body releases an egg into the fallopian tube for fertilization. This stage starts with high levels of estrogen and testosterone, giving you a lot of flirty and social feelings. Immediately after ovulation, progesterone levels rise, and you may feel a little drier, more introverted, and more sheltered than usual. During ovulation, it is easy to become watery, and it is not uncommon for constipation, cramps, and nausea to occur.
Listen to your body and track your cycle. When you know you’re close to ovulating, go out and have fun and take advantage of these positive extroverted emotions. After ovulation, if you feel like you’re starting to lose energy, stay home, rest, and unwind.
what to eat
Avoid salty foods to reduce bloating, increase your intake of fiber-rich foods, and prioritize hydration. Eating foods that contain a lot of water helps.
Hydration: Add green powder to your water and drink at least 2 liters per day to increase your fiber intake. (Check your local health food store, they often have good ones.)
protein: Grass-fed red meat, salmon, lamb, eggs and shellfish.
Fruits and vegetables: Broccoli, dark leafy greens, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplants, asparagus, zucchini, pumpkins, radishes, watermelons, cantaloupe, strawberries, coconuts, grapes, grapefruits, plums, pears, peaches, berries, goji berries, maca , micro green.
Cereals: Quinoa, Amaranthus.
Nuts and Seeds: Sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, pistachios and dark chocolate.
Use this phase of the dichotomy to boost your energy in preparation for low energy levels and prevent constipation, bloating, and low energy. Running, spinning, weightlifting, and high-intensity exercise are all great ways to get your body moving during this phase. Note that prioritizing movement can help reduce constipation.
Luteal phase (15-28 days)
In pregnancy, the luteal phase is the time when the egg is fertilized and ready to attach to the uterus. If there is no pregnancy, the egg will collapse and the body will be ready to start the cycle again.
You will typically experience a steady energy and mood for the first 4-7 days, which slowly declines over the remaining 2 weeks. If pregnancy doesn’t happen at this stage, your hormones will plummet and you’ll often have the most difficult emotions of the month. Consider the symptoms of PMS. When estrogen decreases, serotonin is also secreted, making you feel a little depressed. High progesterone levels can cause cravings for fatty and high-carbohydrate foods and increase overall appetite.
what to eat
Again, listen to your body. Enjoy this phase before hormonal fluctuations occur. Indulge a little more than usual and give your body what it needs. Your body has these cravings for a reason. In other words, you are preparing for menstruation. Good iron-rich, nutritious, and most nutritious indulgence foods. Warm, soft, comforting food is important.
Hydration: Drink 2 liters of water per day. Avoid caffeine and dehydration as they make you feel worse.
protein: Bone broth, grass-fed red meat, turkey, halibut, salmon, tuna, chicken, black beans, chickpeas.
Fruits and vegetables: Vegetable soup, kale, chard, arugula, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, parsnip, radish, peppermint, pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot, avocado, fig, raspberry, apple, date, banana, plantain.
Cereals: Brown rice, whole wheat, pasta.
Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, dark chocolate.
Different types of movement are best suited for early and late luteal phases. In the former, we prioritize moderate intensity, cardio (kickboxing, running, spinning) and longer training as endurance is improved during this phase. Continue exercising during the late luteal phase. However, as your energy levels drop, move to less strenuous exercise such as yoga or walking.
Final Thoughts on Cycle Synchronization
Please do not forget. This advice is to be used as a guide only. Adding these tips and foods can help, but remember to consider flexibility and self-compassion in your life. Give yourself grace and kindness. Remember that regulating and emphasizing self-love is the ultimate goal of Cycle Synchronization.
This post was originally published on July 19, 2018 and has since been updated.