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2024 01 12 nutrition and cycle header

Nutrition and your cycle: your nutritional requirements over the course of your cycle

Now that we've looked in detail at why it makes sense to optimise your Adapt training to your different cycle phasestoday we're going to go one step further and look at your nutritional requirements over the course of your cycle. Spoiler: This is also not always the same.

We probably don't need to tell you in detail that your diet plays an important role in your general health. It's therefore not surprising that your diet can have an impact on how you feel during the different phases of your menstrual cycle. A balanced, healthy diet with sufficient calories and nutrients is actually the be-all and end-all for period health. If you are on a diet that is too restrictive over a long period of time, for example, this can affect the production and regulation of female sex hormones, which in some cases can lead to irregular cycles and, in extreme cases, even the absence of periods.

In contrast, a balanced diet can improve your hormone balance and even ensure that you have a regular cycle and even fewer menstrual cycles. PMS complaints have. But let's take a closer look at the individual cycle phases and talk about your changing nutrient requirements, which are linked to the specifications of the respective cycle phase:

Zyklische Ernährung

Cycle phase 1: Menstruation

During your period, you lose a considerable amount of nutrients, including around 15 to 30 milligrams of iron, due to the shedding of the uterine lining and the resulting bleeding. It is therefore particularly important that you eat iron-rich foods during this phase, especially if you already have low iron levels in general.

Sources of iron include red meat, for example, but many plant-based foods are also hidden iron heroes. These include, for example, wheat bran, wheat germ, seeds, nuts and kernels. Pulses such as chickpeas, lentils and soya beans are also great sources of iron. You can also find iron in wholegrain cereals and, if you want to look for iron-rich vegetables, you should reach for broccoli, spinach, beetroot, rocket or fennel.

During your period, it is also important to consume healthy fats, as these are important for hormone production. Essential fatty acids, which are mainly found in plant-based foods such as avocado, nuts or olive oil, are best here. Fish, such as salmon, is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It also makes sense to increase your intake of vitamin A during your period, as it helps your liver to process hormones. You can find vitamin A in root vegetables and in pumpkin, carrots and sweet potatoes.

Cycle phase 2: The follicular phase

During your follicular phase, your uterine lining regenerates, your oestrogen levels start to rise and the follicles mature until the end of the follicular phase, when the uterine mucous membrane begins to grow. Ovulationand potential fertilisation of the mature egg. To prepare your body for ovulation, you now need more protein. Plant-based foods with a high protein content include lentils, beans, nuts, pumpkin seeds, beans, chickpeas and quinoa. Animal products such as milk, cheese or meat are also good sources of protein. However, you should opt for organic products here, as conventional animal products can often contain hormones that can throw your menstrual cycle out of balance.

Probiotic or fermented foods should also be on your menu now, as they help you to build up healthy intestinal flora and have a positive effect on hormone production there. These include yoghurt or kefir, but also vegan alternatives such as sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, tempeh, kimchi, miso and soya and broccoli sprouts.

Carb up! As your body needs a lot of energy during this phase to prepare for the release of the egg and uses more carbohydrates instead of fat and protein for energy, you should increasingly turn to complex carbohydrates, such as those found in bread, pasta and wholemeal products.

Picture with bread, rice, cornflakes and pasta

Cycle phase 3 - ovulation

Shortly before you ovulate, the concentration of FSH, LH (luteinising hormone) and oestrogen in the blood continues to rise until the follicle finally bursts and releases the mature egg for potential fertilisation. Carbohydrates with a low glycaemic index, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, foods rich in antioxidants and foods containing vitamin D and folic acid are particularly important during this phase. The glycaemic index is a number scale that indicates how quickly your body can convert the carbohydrates in a food into glucose - in other words, how quickly a food causes your blood sugar levels to rise. Your body tolerates a high-fibre diet best around ovulation. That's why you should focus more on fruit and vegetables. Calcium-rich vegetables such as cauliflower, fennel, broccoli and rocket are particularly recommended. Essential fatty acids, which you can find in foods such as salmon, chia seeds and walnuts, are also important now.

a woman sits on a bed and holds the femSense product in her hand. link to the femSense Shop

Cycle phase 4 - the luteal phase

In your Luteal phase your body starts to produce progesterone to further build up the uterine lining and prepare the body for a potential pregnancy. The increase in progesterone often leads to the typical PMS symptoms such as mood swings, tiredness, a feeling of tightness in the breasts, etc.

You may also experience cravings, a well-known PMS symptom, during your luteal phase. To avoid cravings, it is now more important than ever to keep your blood sugar levels stable and not skip any meals. If you eat enough fibre, protein and healthy fats, this can help to keep your blood sugar levels constant.

A diet rich in B vitamins and magnesium is particularly recommended during your luteal phase. B vitamins have a positive effect on the nervous system and mood, as they support the production of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. B vitamins are mainly found in leafy vegetables, oatmeal, rye bread and quinoa. If you are prone to migraines during your luteal phase or suffer from frequent cramps during your period, it is advisable to eat a diet richer in magnesium beforehand, as magnesium can prevent cramps. You can find high amounts of magnesium in nuts such as cashews, almonds and hazelnuts, pulses, wheat bran, wholemeal products and pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Wooden bowl with walnuts, hazelnuts, cashew nuts and brazil nuts

To avoid unnecessarily unbalancing your body during the luteal phase, you should avoid highly processed foods such as junk food or convenience products during this phase, as the high amounts of sugar, salt and unhealthy fats they contain trigger inflammation and exacerbate menstrual cramps. It also makes sense to limit your caffeine consumption somewhat, as caffeine inhibits iron absorption and can therefore exacerbate menstrual cramps. Sugar and white flour should also only be consumed in moderation, as they cause your blood sugar levels to rise and fall quickly, which can favour food cravings. Last but not least, you should watch your salt intake, as too much salt can promote water retention and alcohol should also only be consumed in moderation, as it can affect your hormone levels and thus prolong or shorten your period.

Balance is Key!

As you have seen, it has its advantages to know which phase of your cycle you are currently in so that you can adapt your diet to the different phases of your cycle. We at femSense accompany you on this journey with our smart ovulation tracker. The smart sensor patch incl. free app with cycle diary measures your body temperature on a maximum of 7 days a month and tells you when you are ovulating. In this way, you learn to understand yourself and your body better and can adapt your life, or in this case your diet, to your changing needs.

Finally, we would like to point out that all the aspects we have mentioned are only recommendations. Nobody knows your body as well as you do and what may work well for others may not necessarily be suitable for you. It is also very important for us to emphasise that balance is always key when it comes to nutrition. There are no "forbidden foods" and everything is allowed in moderation, even junk food, sweets etc. so please don't put too much pressure on yourself. If you have any further questions about cyclical nutrition and need individual tips, feel free to contact a nutritionist or your gynaecologist.

Sources:

Rilling (12.01.2024), Train by cycle

Nutrition by cycle (12.01.2024)

Vitti, Alisa: Woman Code (2013)

Markovics (12.01.2024), Eat properly as a rule

Rogan, Black (12.01.2024), Dietary energy intake across the menstrual cycle

Burgeois (12.01.2024), What To Eat During Each Stage Of Your Menstrual Cycle

Tina is the Marketing Manager at femSense and firmly believes that great things happen when women support and empower each other, because in this "men's-world" there clearly needs to be more sisterhood. She lives in harmony with her superpower aka her cycle and writes about all the topics that matter.

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