Cycle Syncing for Optimal Health
Cycle Syncing for Optimal Health

Cycle Syncing for Optimal Health

If you haven’t heard of cycle syncing, prepare for your whole perspective on wellness to change! That is, if you are one of our readers who is currently menstruating. The practice of attuning your nutrition and exercise routines to your cycle is an old one. But in recent years, many doctors and menstruators are recognizing the power of this habit—and bringing it back into the limelight. We’re going to cover the basics so you can give it a try, too. All things cycle syncing, coming up! 

What Is Cycle Syncing 

For starters, what—precisely—is cycle syncing? This is the practice of knowing your four monthly phases and changing what you eat and do based on them. The thinking is that the body needs very different things in the way of nutrients and rest vs. challenge at various times. Consider the physiological changes a menstruator goes through at each stage of their cycle—a lot happens in a month! As such, it makes sense that the body would have ever-changing needs, as compared with those who do not menstruate. 

The Four Cycle Phases

Before we dive into the advice for each week, let’s talk about the length of a menstruator’s cycle and the four phases they typically go through. 

While a cycle can last anywhere from 21 to 35 days and still be considered clinically normal (“healthy”), the average cycle is somewhere around 28 days. Regardless of length, all menstrual cycles feature four main phases, beginning with menstruation.

Menstrual Phase: This is considered the beginning of the cycle, and it starts with day one of your period. During this time, the lining of the uterus sheds if you aren’t pregnant. 

Follicular Phase: Overlapping with your period, this phase begins on day one of bleeding as well and ends when you ovulate. Estrogen levels will rise to cause the lining of your uterus to grow and thicken, while follicle-stimulating hormone (often simply called FSH) causes your follicles to grow. This is all in anticipation of potential implantation around ovulation. 

Ovulation Phase: Enter, the phase that often receives a lot of focus from menstruators, whether because they want to get pregnant or are trying to avoid it. This is the time when another hormone called the luteinizing hormone (LH) inspires your ovary to release an egg (or sometimes two). 

Luteal Phase: Here is where the major branching off happens depending on whether or not you are now pregnant. If so, the egg continues its journey up through your fallopian tubes to your uterus. The level of progesterone will also increase to support your uterine lining for implantation. But if no sperm was provided during ovulation, both estrogen and progesterone will drop so that the thickened lining of the uterus will shed—welcome back to your period! 

It really is amazing to think about all that is happening while we menstruators go about our day-to-day lives. 

Syncing to Support

Now that we’ve discussed the various phases your cycle goes through, let’s talk about how you can support them, which is the essence of cycle syncing. 

Menstrual Phase

Because this is often the most uncomfortable phase for menstruators, light movement is recommended. Lean in to your body’s natural desire to rest and engage in self-care. Try yoga, walking, or even a light stretch while watching your favorite show. 

This is a great time to focus on foods that soothe in the midst of estrogen spikes. Avoid or limit fatty foods, alcohol, excess salt, and caffeine, as these things can add even more estrogen. Consider teas like chamomile to soften the pain of cramps if you suffer from them. If you experience a lot of bloating in this phase, a gut-friendly protein powder like our PlantYourDay formula could help. 

Follicular Phase

As we mentioned already, this phase overlaps with the menstrual phase. That said, you can lean on advice to metabolize all of that estrogen, especially toward the end of the menstrual phase and beginning of ovulation phase, when the follicular phase is still happening. This could be a good time for some light cardio. Perhaps go from yoga in the beginning of your menstrual phase week to some jogging at the end of it, to suit the follicular phase. Continue to be patient and gentle with your body though, as a decreased volume of testosterone will often result in lower endurance during the follicular phase.  

Nutritionally, the follicular phase is a wonderful time to pack in the nutrients. Your body is going through a lot of transition at this time, and it needs fuel! One tip we love is to prioritize fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, pickled vegetables, sauerkraut, yogurt, etc. These are great for cycle syncing in the follicular phase because they contribute to gut and hormonal balance.  

Ovulation Phase

This is the moment when everything peaks, and you’ll probably feel like it! Many menstruators who focus on cycle syncing express their finding that ovulation is when they feel their best. If working a high-intensity exercise into the month is a priority for you, now is the time. Many people feel as if they are bursting with energy during ovulation. 

This is a great time to eat foods that are anti-inflammatory and/or full of antioxidants. These types of foods support your liver, which is key when your hormones are at this all-time high stage. 

Luteal Phase

If the ovulation phase is the high, the luteal phase is the downer of cycle syncing. As your body prepares for its next cycle, energy levels will likely be low, and hormones estrogen and progesterone will surge before dropping. Exercise in moderation is good, but always make sure to check in with yourself when it comes to how endurant you’re feeling—this is not the time to push it. 

Regardless of whether or not you struggle with mental health, the luteal phase can be challenging. The dip in hormones makes many menstruators feel very down during this time. Enter, serotonin-boosting foods! Leafy greens, whole grains, buckwheat, turkey, nuts and seeds, tofu, eggs, and more could help to balance out your mood. Magnesium-rich foods like dark chocolate and pumpkin seeds can also be good. If these are difficult for you to work into your diet, consider a supplement like our MindYourMind, which is a magnesium powerhouse.

Seeds of Good Health

Now that we’ve given some detailed advice for each time of the month, we want to touch on a trending (and for good reason) aspect of cycle syncing: seed cycling!  

Seeds have a whole host of varied benefits. Their positive impact on your health is incredible, when you consider their size. Because of this, many holistic practitioners have developed a more straightforward method for helping menstruators glean the best benefits of seeds at each cycle phase. 

In the seed cycling method, you consume one tablespoon daily of a certain type of seed, changing the variety based on your cycle phase. Here is the outline! 

Menstrual Phase: flax seeds

Follicular Phase: pumpkin seeds

Ovulation Phase: sunflower seeds 

Luteal Phase: sesame seeds

If you ask us, it is certainly worth trying. Regardless of the cycle syncing perspective, these seeds are just generally really good for you. Give it a go! 

We hope this exploration of cycle syncing has been interesting and informative. May it set you on a journey to even better health! 

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