OK ladies, who here feels like nutrition and health information is constantly changing? You can’t see me, but I’m raising my hand over here! It seems like every time I think I understand the “right” way to lose weight and obtain optimal health, I’m suddenly told my “right” way is now the “wrong” way, and there’s a new-and-improved “right” way out there! It can be pretty confusing. That’s why I was wary when my neighbor first told me about this new thing she is doing, called “cycle syncing.”
To put it simply, cycle syncing is the practice of altering your exercise and diet routine depending on where you’re at in your menstrual cycle. Many ladies swear by it, so I decided to see what all the hype is about. Here’s what I found out about this new trend.
Understanding Cycle Syncing
When it comes to hormones, women have it rough. One day we may feel energetic, happy and unstoppable. The next day we may feel completely drained of energy, grumpy and unmotivated. We have our hormones to thank for these very real dips and spikes in our mood and energy levels.
The idea of cycle syncing is to help women “maximize their hormonal power” with the help of certain activities and foods. The term “cycle syncing” was first coined by Alisa Vitti, who is a functional nutritionist. She is also the author of the book WomanCode and is the founder of the FloLiving Hormone Center.
How Cycle Syncing Works
Though there is not yet a lot of research confirming the benefits of cycle syncing, there are many women who claim the practice has changed their lives for the better. Here’s how to do it properly.
Track your cycle. You need to know which phase you are in (menstrual, follicular, ovulatory or luteal) in order to follow a cycle syncing lifestyle. It’s recommended that you download some sort of cycle-tracking app to make things easier. Here’s what to do during each phase of your cycle:
- Menstrual: Your estrogen is rising during this phase, which can lead to cramps and other unpleasant symptoms. During this time, avoid fatty or salty foods, caffeine and alcohol. Opt for warming soups and stews and nutrient-rich foods instead. Focus your exercises on muscular activation rather than intense cardio, since your energy levels are low during this phase.
- Follicular: During this phase, your energy levels will start to rise. Try eating fresh, lightly prepped foods (such as steamed vegetables and sauteed fish or chicken). Eat plenty of vegetables, seeds, lean proteins and dense grains that will help sustain your energy. You now have the energy to do more cardio-based workouts and lift heavier weights.
- Ovulatory: You’ll probably notice an increase in strength and endurance during your ovulatory phase. To support your energy while protecting your muscles against breakdown, eat a lot of leafy green, fibrous foods. You’ll also feel physically powerful and should make the most of your workouts by engaging in HIIT, plyometrics (if your joints allow it) and other high-energy workouts.
- Luteal: This is the phase we ladies don’t like so much. It’s when you start to feel more sluggish than usual and your motivation starts to wane. To help you combat PMS symptoms, eat foods that are rich in calcium, magnesium, b-vitamins and vitamin D. Plan to eat more calories during this time to help you fight cravings. Scale back your exercise intensity and give yourself more time to rest.
This is a simplified version of cycle syncing. Although it requires a lot of thought, I’ve heard it becomes easier with time. My thoughts on this practice are that it seems to show a lot of promise for women who become frustrated because they have a difficult time sticking with their eating and exercise habits during certain times of the month. So I say give it a try and see if it helps you!