Our bodies, hormones, and physiology undergo a lot of changes throughout our menstrual cycle. But we often ignore these changes and live our lives the same way regardless of what part of our cycle we are in. Fortunately, there is a lot we can do with nutrition and exercise to support our hormones and body changes throughout our cycles.
During menstruation (3-7 days)
- Eat warming, nourishing foods, such as cooked veggies (the more colorful the better), soups, stews, oatmeal.
- Healthy fats, like salmon, avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, olive or avocado oil, are great for reducing inflammation and help you to create healthy hormones! Fats are also the body’s fuel of choice during lower intensity exercise which is what you should aim for while menstruating.
- Drink lots of water, maybe even adding in some ginger or chia tea.
- Engage in gentle forms of exercise, such as going for a walk, stretching, and yoga. Lifting weights is also a great form of exercise during menstruation because you have a higher amount of testosterone and more ability to build muscle mass.
- Spend time journaling, reading your favorite book, taking a bath, or doing breathing exercises.
- Allow your body to get a good night’s sleep everynight!
During the follicular phase (7-10 days)
- Continue to eat lots of veggies, but add in more plant-based proteins, such as beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds.
- Engage in exercises that raise your heart rate and challenge your body. This could be HIIT training, lifting weights, running, dancing, and cycling.
- Spend time in creativity and be social.
During luteal phase (12-15 days)
- Eat 1 cup of cruciferous vegetables per day to help support the increase in progesterone during the second half of your cycle. Examples of cruciferous veggies are broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, asparagus, arugula, turnips, kale, and radishes.
- Focus on eating foods that are high in magnesium, such as steamed spinach, black beans, almonds, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, oatmeal, avocados, cashews, and dark chocolate.
- Root vegetables are another great food for luteal phase because they help you connect to the Earth and feel grounded.
- Your metabolism tends to increase during the luteal phase which increases your body’s breakdown of protein and ability for the body to use fat as fuel. So, make sure you are still eating plant-based protein sources and healthy fats!
- Go for a barefoot walk
- Continue exercising, just a bit less intensely than during your follicular phase.