Have you ever tried to tailor your lifestyle around your menstrual cycle? Just like the seasons, our bodies have their own natural rhythms.
Let's chat about how you can support your menstrual cycle through your nutrition and lifestyle for a smoother ride. The more in harmony these are, the less discomfort and struggle you may experience each month.
Get ready to dive into the practical ways you can support your body through each phase of your menstrual cycle!
Phase 1: Menstruation (~days 1-7)
Embrace the Reboot!
When the blood flow starts, your body deserves some extra TLC. Your body is busy trying to work hard to shed the lining of the uterus in this phase, so we need to be gentle with her.
Here's the lowdown on how to navigate this phase:
- Nutrition: focus on your iron intake with foods like lean meats, red kidney beans, and dark leafy greens. Pair these iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C like mixed berries, citrus fruits and tomatoes to optimise absorption of iron!
- Mind & Body: light yoga and relaxation are your besties in this phase. Rest up and give your body the gentle care it needs.
- Training: low-key workouts like gentle walks, pilates, and light weight training are great. Honour your body's need for rest and recovery.
Phase 2: Follicular Phase (~days 8-14)
Hello, fresh start!
In the follicular phase oestrogen levels gradually rise, along with your energy levels. You have finished your major event for the month, and you feel good!
As your body gears up for ovulation, here's how to nourish this phase:
- Nutrition: support the beginnings of a brand new cycle by adding omega-3s through chia seeds and fatty fish, as well as protein through lean meats, eggs, tofu, legumes and beans.
- Mind & Body: time to set goals and channel your creativity with this new energy! Try something new and get creative with your mind, you never know what seeds need planting.
- Training: perfect time to amp up the intensity with dance or HIIT workouts. Your energy levels are increasing, so push yourself a little more!
Phase 3: Ovulation (~days 15-17)
Ovulation is the midpoint of the menstrual cycle. This is when oestrogen levels peak and it is your time to shine!
Here's how to make the most of it:
- Nutrition: support your energy by loading up on healthy carbohydrate sources such as wholegrains, oats, pasta, rice, fresh fruits and veggies. Grab a handful of nuts for an extra mood boost.
- Mind & Body: confidence is your bestie at the moment. Engage in activities that push you outside your comfort zone and schedule all your social plans around these days!
- Training: go all out with intense workouts. Your body is ready to perform, so challenge yourself!
Phase 4: Luteal Phase (~days 18-28)
Relax and Recharge.
As your body gears down, focus on self-care and relaxation.
- Nutrition: opt for plenty of fibre in this phase to support healthy digestion and include foods high in magnesium to alleviate cramping and pain. Focus on whole grains, lean meats, fruits and vegetables. Snack on nuts and seeds, and unwind with herbal teas.
- Mind & Body: stress relief is the main priority in this phase. Take long walks, read books, practise deep breathing or meditation, and enjoy gentle yoga.
- Training: moderate workouts like brisk walking, weight training or cycling is perfect in this phase. Give your body a chance to recharge.
There are 4 phases of a women’s menstrual cycle: menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase.
Each phase involves a change in a woman's hormone levels and therefore a change in our energy levels, mood and nutrient needs. Changing our monthly activities, training and focusing nutrition to support these changes can help us to better flow through each phase with ease!
Please note, although we have provided a guide for each phase, it’s all about listening to your own individual needs and energy levels and adjusting your nutrition and training accordingly for best results. These tips and tricks also may not be as effective for those on hormonal contraception, or postmenopausal females .
 Rogan MM, Black KE. Dietary energy intake across the menstrual cycle: a narrative review. Nutr Rev. 2023 Jun 9;81(7):869-886. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuac094. PMID: 36367830; PMCID: PMC10251302.