Updated: Jun 14, 2020
Period. How can it affect your diet & training?
First of all, what is a menstrual cycle?
The menstrual cycle is the monthly hormonal cycle a female’s body goes through to prepare for pregnancy. Your menstrual cycle is counted from the first day of your period up to the first day of your next period. Your hormone levels (estrogen and progesterone) usually change throughout the menstrual cycle and can cause menstrual symptoms.
The typical menstrual cycle is 28 days long but it may vary from woman to woman.
Regardless of the length of the cycle, 3 of its phases always occur:
I am going to look into the last phase today.
Luteal phase occurs just before your period starts. This is when most women struggle with their training and nutrition.
What happens in that phase?
It is ok to feel less energetic and have cravings in this phase. Some women may not feel any different while others will be exhausted and without any motivation - it is normal, nothing to be worried about.
If you feel like hitting the gym may kill you, do not worry!
What to do?
Substitute weights training with yoga, meditation, stretching.
Increase spontaneous activity (instead of driving or going by bus - walk or cycle to work).
Ask your friend, partner, child to go for a walk.
Take care of your sleep hygiene (make sure you get enough, good quality sleep) - regeneration is crucial in the luteal phase
Cravings - they are also absolutely normal here (not every woman has them though). However, if you struggle, try these simple appetite control tips:
Eat regularly, fibre reach meals, lots of vegetables and fruits (do not limit them during that phase) - always have fruits within your reach.
Eat mindfully (without any disruptions).
Eat more healthy fats (they are very important to keep your hormonal balance) - a handful of nuts as a snack is a great idea here (add avocado, oils and fatty fish to your diet in this phase).
If nothing helps, get something that will give your brain a moment of happiness - get a small 25-30 g bar of chocolate, cut it into little pieces - celebrate every single piece, give your brain time to realize that you are getting what you wanted.
Do not store sweets in your “for a period only” cabinet - I guarantee that in a moment of weakness you will have no limits.
What not to do:
Do not eat processed food and salty snacks.
Limit your salt intake and processed food, chips, crisps, pizza, etc.- salt will keep water in your body. Water retention will lead to bloating, you will feel sluggish and your body will look swollen. Your clothes may seem tighter.
Avoid scale - do not weigh yourself in luteal phase - your body may be 3-4 kgs (5-7lbs) heavier these days due to hormonal changes and water retention
Do not workout excessively (if you feel fatigued) - poor regeneration during that phase is absolutely normal.