Cycle Syncing: How to Combat Menstrual Side Effects Naturally
By Kiku Chaudhuri
Did you know that you could use the cycle syncing method to enhance productivity and boost your energy levels?
If you constantly feel anxious, lazy and downright tired, you are not alone. Far too many women suffer from an energy crisis due to busy lives and the constant juggle between work and family life. But luckily there is a solution to exhaustion and stress. Lifestyle changes—specifically cycle syncing—can help overcome fatigue, fogginess and moodiness.
As women, our bodies go through dynamic changes throughout our menstrual cycle. This results in fluctuating hormones and a subsequent shift in mood and energy levels. The main idea behind period syncing is to work with your body and not against it. Rather than being slaves to our hormones, we can listen to our body and get the right nutrition and exercise for enhanced energy, better mood and less period problems.
What is cycle syncing?
“Cycle syncing” is an idea that has gained traction among wellness communities for its focus on making lifestyle adjustments by taking note of how our hormones change throughout the month. A timed meal plan with a diet that is aligned with our body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) is an excellent way to combat fatigue and boost overall energy. Since hormonal imbalances are frequently triggered by bad eating habits, a balanced diet and conscious exercise regimen can provide a comprehensive solution to hormonal issues while promoting a long-term healthy lifestyle.
How to practice cycle syncing during your menstrual cycle for balanced hormones and revitalized energy?
By syncing your diet, exercise routine, and lifestyle to the phases of your menstrual cycle, you can maximize your hormonal power to lose stubborn weight, live a happier and healthier life and even perform better at work. Here is a simple guide to practicing period syncing for balanced hormones and long-term wellness.
Menstrual phase (Days 1-5)
The first day of your cycle is when your periods start. During this phase, progesterone and estrogen levels are low causing some common menstrual symptoms like cramping, mood swings, lower back pain and fatigue.
- Hydration is key. You must drink seven to eight glasses of water in a day. Dehydration during your period may give you headaches and muscle aches. Fruits like watermelon, melon and cucumber will help you to stay hydrated.
- To soothe cramps, drink chamomile, ginger, or peppermint tea.
- Menstrual blood loss often results in iron deficiency so make sure you eat iron-rich food like spinach, apples and legumes.
- Consume fruits, vegetables or whole grains as that will support your body’s hormone production. Omega 3 and vitamin d as well as magnesium rich foods and supplements can help.
- Focus on rest.
- Opt for meditative walks and don't push yourself.
- Light movements are recommended during this stage.
- Listen to your body. Low levels of hormones may cause more fatigue. Slow down and rest if you feel tired.
- This phase is a new start. While resting, remember to reflect and plan for the coming month.
Follicular phase (Days 6-14)
This phase begins after menstruation. At this stage, estrogen and progesterone levels are on the rise. You may notice higher energy, radiant skin and an increased sex drive. You may also feel highly optimistic which is why this phase is great for trying new things and incorporating more exercise into your routine.
- You should eat a lot of green and leafy vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and spinach.
- Phytoestrogen foods like hummus, soybean, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds should also be added to your diet.
- A healthy dose of antioxidants and fiber-rich foods like green tea, citrus fruits and matcha is also recommended.
- Some women feel increasingly dehydrated during this phase due to the high levels of hormones. Hence, remember to drink lots of water and try incorporating some mineral-rich sea salt into your diet. These nourishing foods will provide nutrients to a maturing follicle and promote fertility.
- Try light cardio or a more flow-based yoga.
- Hormones, especially testosterone, are still low. This may result in low stamina. Restrict your exercise to light runs or hiking
- This phase is characterized by greater productivity and more creativity. Take the time to brainstorm and plan your meetings and projects.
- You may feel more social so try to make more time for your friends and family.
Ovulatory phase (Days 15-17)
The follicular phase is followed by the ovulatory phase. In this phase, your estrogen levels will be at their highest, causing a drastic increase in your energy levels.
- Eat antioxidant-rich fruits like raspberries, coconut, strawberries and guava that assist the detoxification of rising hormones in the liver.
- To tackle inflammation, consume nuts, dry fruits and oatmeal.
- You can add sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans and pistachios to make delicious smoothies that will not only satisfy your taste palate but will also support your overall mood by boosting serotonin production.
- Limit refined carbohydrates, sugar and trans-fats.
- This is the time to try high-intensity workouts. Testosterone and estrogen are on the rise causing an increase in energy and potential.
- You may feel very confident, hence this is the perfect time to get out of your comfort zone and try something new.
- Your sex drive is likely to increase during this phase due to high levels of testosterone. Remember to use protection if you are not trying to conceive.
- You may also feel more confident and attractive. This is a great time to look your best at work and ask for a raise or negotiate a deal.
Luteal phase (Days 18-28)
This phase is after ovulation and before menstruation. In the luteal phase (also known as the post egg release phase) your hormones surge and diminish within the span of 15 to 18 days. During the phase, your body starts preparing for another round of ovulation and menstruation. There is a rise in progesterone and you may experience premenstrual symptoms like mood swings, irritability, brain fog and bloating.
- To satisfy the hunger pangs during this phase, make sure to eat less but at regular intervals.
- Since an increase in progesterone can slow digestion, opt for foods that are rich in fibers like broccoli, raspberries, avocado, carrots, strawberries and apples.
- Add foods rich in calcium and magnesium such as, almonds, spinach, kale, dark chocolate, cashews, beans and lentils to curb cravings and reduce bloating.
- Lastly, sip on peppermint tea at night to help promote hormonal balance. Try sweet things with complex fibers like sweet potato and strawberries.
- Your body will be preparing for another period cycle. Opt for light-to-moderate exercises.
- Movement is very important during this phase to boost your mood and reduce PMS symptoms. Consider pilates or yoga.
- You may notice your mood changing. Listen to your body, rest and focus on self-care.
- Spend more time at home and say no to social gatherings if you feel introverted.
- Be kind to yourself.