Never heard of cycle syncing before? Don’t worry, as I only came across this term in the recent months and found it super powerful!

Women’s hormones fluctuate highly over the menstrual cycle, which hugely impacts our emotional well-being, appetite levels, cognitive processes, and sleep quality. It is very important to sync your menstrual cycle and your lifestyle. So what is cycle syncing? This method has been invented and trademarked by Alisa Vitti, Functional Nutritionist, HHC, AADP. Put in simple terms: cycle syncing means planning your workouts and changing your diet and lifestyle according to your menstrual cycle, so you can optimize your fitness game and overall health and well-being. This can actually benefit certain women the most, especially those suffering from PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), are overweight, or extremely fatigued.

A woman’s menstrual cycle is composed of 4 phases. Let’s take a look at each phase and explore some tips on how to modify your diet, workout routine, and lifestyle to reap the health benefits.

Menstrual phase

This is the phase where you are starting your period (Day 1) which can last up to 5-7 days for the average woman. Some of us may experience shorter or longer period it all varies from one person to another. During this time, the lining of the uterus is shed which causes bleeding and your oestrogen and progesterone levels go low. It is recommended to take some rest and pamper yourself when you are on your period. You can do this by reducing your workload at work, you can for example plan to tackle any key projects or high priorities ahead of that time or afterwards if you have the possibility so you maximise your productivity. As a qualified Level 3 personal trainer, I recommend to chose light intensity workout avoiding any exercise that are strenuous. For example, choose to do go for long walks in nature, do low-impact bodyweight strength and mobility exercises which don’t involve any jumping around, gentle restorative yoga will also work magic on your body helping you alleviate the period pain.

Follicular phase

This phase precedes the release of your eggs. It usually happens between Day 6 and Day 14. During these time, your oestrogen and progesterone hormones are on the rise. However, they are still very much on the low including your testosterone levels which may cause you stamina to decrease. You should opt for light cardio exercises such as walking, hiking, gentle jog and why not a flow yoga session to give you the good sweat that you need. Foods like broccolis and soya sprouts as well as fermented foods like sauerkraut can be added to your diet to help metabolise oestrogen.

Ovulatory phase

This phase involves the release of the eggs as it stands for. It usually happens between Day 15 and Day 17 and oestrogen hormones reach their peak level. Also your progesterone and testosterone levels are on the rise during that phase. You can guess it, this is the time where you feel at your best and can go hard with your fitness game. I suggest you do high intensity workout such as HIIT sessions, Tabata and Circuit. It is the ideal time to fit in your favourite spin class too. Food wise, try to pack on anti-inflammatory and antioxidant foods which you can source from fruits like blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, raspberries and green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and cabbage. A handful of nuts per day and oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines are also a good source of omega-3 which have great anti-inflammatory properties to aid post-workout recovery.

Luteal phase

The luteal phase corresponds to the post egg release phase of the menstrual cycle. This usually happens between Day 18 and Day 28. Oestrogen and progesterone levels are high but if the egg doesn’t get fertilised the hormones then decrease and your menstrual cycle starts again. During this phase, your body is preparing for another period cycle and as a result your energy levels begin to decrease. In terms of exercise, you should opt for light to moderate intensity workouts such as strength training using weights, cable machines or resistance training machines at the gym if you are a gym goer. If you exercise at home you can exercise with a pair of light dumbbells, kettlebells or simply use a resistance bands. There are so many you can find in the sports shops or on Amazon online like this 5 piece set of resistance bands which have different intensities ranging from 10lbs to 30lbs. There are quite cheap (£11.99) and easy to store at home. In terms of diet, you want to fight the fatigue and low energy by packing on foods rich in magnesium such as avocado, legumes, seeds, nuts, spinach, whole grains and fatty fish. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, “Imbalances in your hormones are triggered by bad food.” Therefore, you may want to avoid any food that can exacerbate cramps like added sugars, caffeine and alcohol since your body is preparing for your next period.

Tips to get you started on this process:

  1. Start tracking your cycle. There are plenty of apps out there that can help you do that with minimum input from you e.g Clue, Glow and Kindara are the best on the market so make sure you download an app, some of which are free to use for their basic functionalities, some of them have paid versions if you fancy using more features.
  2. Begin to document how you’re feeling each week of your menstrual cycle e.g sleep quality, mood levels, skin breakouts, hanger and stress levels etc… You can do all of that using an app as well.
  3. Build on these insights to inform how to organise your weeks ahead and plan more effectively any work related activities, workout routines, projects and tasks to prioritise for the days when you feel like you are on the top of your game and free up some space for those times when you are going through your actual period or about to start it.
  4. Implement the nutrition recommendations explained above once you are comfortable to sync your lifestyle.

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