How to eat to match your menstrual cycle

Posted by Ben Simpkins on March 17, 2017

So a couple of posts ago we looked at how you shoulder alter your training to combat what is going on during your period, the slight changes ensure that you continue achieving results at all times and we stated back then that we would cover the nutrition, so here we are.

This post is hopefully going to be simple and short but obviously, if you have any questions let us know and we will hopefully answer these for you! Let’s just have a quick reminder of the stages of the cycle;

Stages of the menstrual cycle

Days 1-5 Menstrual Phase
Days 6-13 Follicular phase
Day 14 Ovulation
Days 15-28 Luteal phase

Nutrition for days 1-14

For the first half of your cycle, you will have a higher level of Oestrogen present in your system that will allow you to deal with the breakdown of carbohydrates and other nutrients to supply energy to the body. This first part is where you should stick as close to possible as you can to your macros and exercise plan, have more carbs, lift heavy and focus on strength.

It is important to get enough energy into the muscles as the first stage after your period has ended is when you will be at the lowest point, your appetite may also be slightly lower due to the extra Oestrogen so be sure to hit your macro intake each day.

Nutrition for days 15-28

This is post ovulation and your Progesterone levels get ramped up, this hormone causes the body to store fat and causes the cravings you usually get for fatty or sugary foods. This is where you should look at switching over to a more cardiovascular workout and also reduce your carbohydrate intake while also boosting your protein intake.

The extra protein should help you feel fuller for longer which will combat those cravings slightly. Again be vigilant with the numbers coming into the body as you need to ensure you are not overeating (sugary and fatty cravings) or undereating.

Examples of macro intakes during the stages

Days 1-14
70kg woman looking to lose weight

1700 calories daily intake
Protein = 140kg = 540 calories
Fats = 70g = 630 cals
Carbs =133g = 530 cals

Days 15-28

1700 calorie daily intake
Protein = 160g = 640 cals
Fat = 70g = 630 cals
Carbs = 108g = 430 cals

So there has only been a reduction of 100 calories from the carbs and added to the protein but this should reduce cravings, stop the body turning what you eat into body fat during the 2nd phase and ensure that you keep your energy levels up sufficiently. The other added bonus is that with the additional protein you will help build and raise your Iron levels which can be affected due to the blood loss. Look at adding foods rich in Vitamin C and Folic acids. These foods could be citrus fruits, broccoli, avocados, celery, asparagus and peppers.

This issue is usually only a problem if you suffer from a heavy period but be sure to add these foods to your diet as you may have an issue with absorbing iron even without HMB.

I hope this has been useful and allows you to continue with your progress and training as although it is tough, it doesn’t need to be an excuse to completely stop with your health and fitness goals. Keep your diet as clean as possible, exercise correctly throughout the month and you will be on the right track.

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