Training and Eating during the Menstrual Cycle.

Understanding how to train and eat around your monthly cycle can be tricky. The female body goes through several cycles and fluctuations throughout the month so understanding why you feel the way you do may help in this weeks blog. A menstrual cycle can be between 25 & 31 days in most cases, and I’m talking about ladies who have regular cycle with no known conditions.

Its always useful to know exactly where you are in your cycle. The amount of people I speak to that do not have a clue when they are next due for a period and just rely on emotions to tell them. If you understand how your body works, you can fuel it and be kind to it when you need to even if that does mean eating your favourite chocolate or having extra peanut butter on toast just know that its OK!

I personally recommend an app called “clue” I believe it is one of the best female cycle tracking apps out there. Each cycle is split into three phases.

Day 1-11 The Follicular phase

With carbohydrate being the main fuel source due to increased insulin sensitivity between these days this is a great time to focus on progress with training and lifting. Its definitely a time to re-fuel with carbohydrates after a glycogen depletion workout (anything high intensity with or without weights) Females tend to have a higher pain threshold at this point so there is a good chance of getting a personal best. Or going for the extra mile in your run.

Day 12-16 Ovulation Phase

Oestrogen starts to rise during ovulation, which may bring a slight increase in appetite. You will still be feeling quite strong during ovulation but could be slightly prone to injury. The elevation in Oestrogen can affect muscular control. So, your not just clumsy – its your hormones! If you feel hungry during this phase it’s a good time to add a few extra calories into the diet. Don’t just starve yourself. Understand that your body will go through days when you just feel hungry and you don’t know why. It hormones! You cannot control them. Sadly, they control us!

Day 15/16 – 28/31 Luteal Phase

During this phase the body temperature can be elevated due to a drop in oestrogen and a rise in progesterone. This can affect sleep and performance. Pre-menstrual stress symptoms can be present which may include irritability, back ache, bloating, breast tenderness, water retention and heightened emotional sensitivity. And to the men that may read this…..just so you know …… the reduction in the hormone serotonin that can cause irritability – not just because your getting on her nerves (well you might be!)

Carbohydrate cravings are more likely during this phase for the same reason. When we eat carbohydrates they release serotonin. Try your best to choose wisely when you get the craving. Most of us tend to head straight for the Dairy Milk or Galaxy – but if you are trying to shed some fat try and choose oats with fresh fruit and greek yoghurt. Sprinkling a bit of dark chocolate on it may just hit the spot!

Our bodies tend to use fat as a main fuel source during this phase so its worth considering a lower intensity workout for these days and don’t punish yourself if you feel like you just don’t have energy.

A last word of advice for those that like to weigh themselves every day. In the last few days running up to your period, and during your period you can be anything up to 4-7lbs heavier due to the PMS symptoms I have mentioned. This is really Not a good time to continuously punish yourself with weighing yourself and getting upset because you havn’t lost a kilo this week. If you are insistent on weighing in regularly, wait until at least 3-4 days after your have finished your period. You will get a slightly better reading on the dial. I really hope you have found this  useful to help you plan your eating and training with your monthly cycle.

For more help with training and nutrition book in for a consultation today.