The Waves of our Nutrition Cycle
During a woman's cycle, I believe it's imperative to strategize nutrition and movement patterns to ease some of the more unpleasant symptoms. There are two phases to a woman's cycle: follicular (low hormone) and luteal (high hormone).
The follicular phase spans from day 1 to about day 14 of our cycle, and allows for higher intensity/HIIT workouts. As our carbohydrate intake is easily accessed, this is also the optimal time to develop lean muscle mass as our protein is spared. Foods with anti inflammatory properties as well as B vitamins can help support carbohydrate metabolism for the least amount of digestive distress.
The luteal phase spans from day 15 to day 28 of our cycle, and comes with an amplification of our progesterone. This is catabolic and inhibits our protein synthesis, thus, our leucine/protein needs increase. Because of our shifting nutritional needs, it's best to incorporate low impact exercises. As we are more prone to injury or stress, we do not want to put the body through as much immune-compromising stress. Foods with magnesium (bananas, walnuts, chicken), zinc (seeds, nuts), and omega 3s (fish) are recommended to reduce inflammation. Due to the physiological and emotional needs of the luteal phase, it might be more appropriate to increase calories as our body is producing more tissue during this time.