Training during the Menstrual Cycle:
There are 4 phases to the menstrual cycle, these are the menstrual phase, follicular phase, ovulation phase and the Luteal phase. Below we will outline each phase and some key points to consider when approaching your training during your menstrual cycle.
Menstrual Phase (Day 1-5)
During this phase your hormone levels drop and a lack of iron can affect your energy levels and can increase cravings.
You should look to increase your protein intake along with good fats and complex carbs. More than ever, this is the part of the cycle where your diet needs to be on point. We need to eat foods with a higher satiety level (making us feel fuller for longer) to avoid the cravings and urge to snack.
Magnesium supplementation may be good during this phase as it is a natural muscle relaxant.
Avoid caffeine as this is a diuretic.
Increase iron rich foods (spinach, benas, nuts, dried fruits, to name a few).
Follicular phase (Day 1-14)
This is the feel good phase, hormones begin to raise for ovulation.
Focus on probiotic rich foods and Omega 3 Fats alongside coloured vegetables, as these will support liver detoxification
Your focus around training during this phase should be strength, due to the increased hormones this could lead to an increase in your strength.
There is however, a higher risk of injury during this phase so we need to focus on longer warmups and less stretching.
Ovulation Phase (Day 14)
Oestrogen levels peak during this phase.
It is very important to focus on good quality sleep during this phase.
Your energy levels will boost so this could be the time to push for PB’s or to go a little harder in your sessions and enjoy the results.
Progesterone levels are low here, this causes your pain tolerance to increase.
Vitamin B Supplementation might be a good idea here to help with energy production.
Luteal Phase (Day 14-28)
This is the phase where your period begins and PMS symptoms can arise (bloating, acne and cravings increase)
Cortisol (stress hormone) spikes and causes sweet cravings so this is where it is super important to be strict with yourself and not get carried away with the cravings and sweet treats.
Fibre rich foods will help with satiety and get some oily fish in your system for its essential oils.
Temperature raises and progesterone increases so it is important to stay hydrated in this phase and also to keep cool.
Endurance levels can dip resulting in a decline in performance, so dont be too hard on yourself, it won’t last forever.
This could be a good time to schedule in a few rest days.
Water retention is high so scale weight can fluctuate, don’t get hung up on this as it will revert back to normal.
Hopefully this shed some light on different phases of your menstrual cycle and gave you some information you can use to really get the most out of your training and nutrition whilst going through the different parts of the menstrual cycle.