Women cycle through four phases each month shifting our hormones which influences our energy, hunger, mood, and requirement for different nutrients.
Many women beat themselves up if they’re feeling more introverted, hungrier, or more tired during different phases of the month, but there are physiological reasons for this! These are all normal changes because our hormones fluctuate throughout each phase and should be treated differently throughout each one. By supporting and understanding your body through each phase, you will create more hormonal balance which influences your glow inside and out.
First I will explain each phase, and secondly recommend which dietary and lifestyle recommendations I want you to know to help you glow and feel more balanced.
This phase lasts 3-7 days and is where our hormones are at their lowest, like estrogen and progesterone. Low overall hormone status means that we feel lower energy, more introverted, and have a lower appetite. Our intuition is also heightened at this time, which can influence emotions but also create a sense of calm.
Dietary Recommendations: To help with fatigue, mineral rich foods and drinks are very important and replenish from blood loss. I recommend sipping on organic bone broth, green juices, coconut water, orange juice, and goat milk because they all are high in different minerals to support our bodies. Mineral rich foods I recommend are avocado, seaweed, organic dark chocolate, oysters, wild salmon, grass fed meat, celery, and dark leafy greens. Having probiotic foods can be good for bloating as well such as coconut milk or goat milk yogurt, sauerkraut, or kimchi. Magnesium supplementation is also great to reduce symptoms like body aches and muscle cramps.
Lifestyle Recommendations: Allow yourself more space and time for rest. Your intuition is at your highest here so it’s a great time to spend some alone time with yourself and journal your thoughts out as well as meditate. Take an essential oil bath with rose, lavender, and 1 tbsp. of coconut oil. As for workouts, I recommend lower intensity movements such as nature walks and gentle yoga/pilates.
This phase lasts around 14 days, but every women’s cycle is slightly different. Our hormones like estrogen and testosterone begin to rise which increases energy, with moderate appetite, and usually feeling more social.
Dietary Recommendations: Lean proteins and higher fiber foods works great at this time! Lean proteins I suggest are organic poultry, wild elk, tuna, tempeh, chickpeas, bean pasta, vegan protein powder, and collagen protein. Fiber rich and hydrating veggies and fruits to include are organic lettuces, celery, cucumber, carrots, grapefruit, and berries. Sweet potatoes, squash, and wild rice are great carb sources as well to replenish with if you’re more active. Even though our bodies work well with lighter foods at this time, it’s still important to get enough calories otherwise this can lead to stress in your luteal/menstrual phase.
Lifestyle Recommendations: Medium to higher intensity workouts are the best to incorporate and take advantage of such as HIIT, running, hiking, and resistance training. Scheduling in time with friends is also great for mood as you’ll feel more social. Completing important tasks can also be easier as well. Again, still take time to rest and recover to not over-stress your body.
This phase lasts 1-3 days. It is a time we feel our most social, libido is highest, and mood is uplifted.
Dietary Recommendations: You’ll want to eat similarly to the follicular phase, but since estrogen is at it’s peak here it’s even more important to eat higher fiber foods like carrots, broccoli, leafy greens, and tigernuts to detox estrogen from the body, as well as foods rich in vitamin E such as avocados, olives/olive oil, almonds or taking a high quality vitamin E supplement.
Lifestyle Recommendations: Great time to connect with others for your mental health or have a date if you have a significant other. Incorporate movement with people you love such as going into nature or taking a class together (even virtually). Medium to higher intensity workouts here as well.
This phase lasts around 14 days, but again every woman is different. This is where the hormone progesterone begins to rise, and then estrogen/progesterone both peak and begin to fall. Because of this, our energy begins to lower, and PMS symptoms can occur such as moodiness, breast tenderness, fatigue, aches/pains. Luckily, by providing our bodies with the right nutrients and rest we can reduce these symptoms. Our appetite is at its highest during this phase and it’s important to consume enough calories here and balanced macro and micronutrients.
Dietary Recommendations: I recommend more balanced meals and increasing calories slightly compared to the other phases to help with progesterone production which is important to reduce severity of PMS symptoms. Some women tend to be more prone to bingeing at this time but it’s usually from not balancing their meals enough, thinking they can get away with eating the same as in their follicular phase. I recommend denser protein sources and more healthy fats such as wild fish, free range eggs, grass fed meats, lentils/legumes, grass fed butter, avocados, and goat or coconut yogurt. Having a little more starchy foods can reduce anxiety/mood fluctuations such as potatoes, rice, oats, gluten free bread, squash, or your favourite healthy cookies! Since our digestion is usually more sensitive, cooked vegetables may be better at this time. Increasing magnesium is also important here to help with mood. Organic coffee, green tea, and taking adaptogenic herbs like chaga, rhodiola, and reishi can also help with fatigue and stress. Making sure to hydrate and sipping on nettle tea, roasted dandelion, and red raspberry leaf tea can help with PMS symptoms and reduce bloating.
Lifestyle Recommendations: As for workouts low to medium intensity is best such as nature walks, yoga, pilates, lighter runs/hikes. You may need more rest especially in the second half, so definitely listen to that and take time to rejuvenate yourself. Meditate, journal, and take baths to help with mental health. Set boundaries with other people to honour your bodies needs as well!
Holistic Nutritionist and creator of The Beauty Files