From puberty, pregnancy, menopause, and everything in between women require different nutritional needs at every stage of life. How to eat right through the female hormonal cycle is much different than what we have learned (or have not learned). That may come as a shock to some ladies to learn that we are not just small men who need to eat and train the same just in “girl” quantities.
Our physiology is different, we are able to bear LIFE, and we have a whole different hormonal profile that not only fluctuates through our entire life but also monthly during our reproductive ages. You may think it’s annoying to be a woman with all these “HoRmOnEs” but I assure you, they are amazing once you start to work with them instead of against them.
So, are you ready to learn about your body in every stage it has gone through and will go through in the future? *HELL YES*
Let’s dive in;)
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice and should not be taken as such. I am not a doctor and do not claim to be as these are solely based on my experiences. Please consult your family doctor before considering any recommendations listed in this post. Thanks!
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Male vs Female hormonal cycle
Women and men have quite different hormonal cycles. A man’s cycle is pretty straightforward and may be considered advantageous compared to a female’s hormonal cycle because it is much shorter and follows day-to-day living.
Men have a 24-hour hormonal cycle
A man’s hormonal cycle starts each day and finishes each day as well. Therefore, there is a lot more consistency which is debatably easier to manage. In the morning, testosterone levels start out high giving him the energy to start strong and focused. As the day goes on, energy levels will ebb and flow slightly and tap off at the end of the day. Ready to start again tomorrow!
Testosterone will begin to decrease with age after 30 and may continue to fall about 1% per year after they have peaked (age 30ish). However, other lifestyle factors can affect testosterone levels like stress, obesity, lack of sleep, and old age.
Women have a 28 (ish) day cycle
Women in their reproductive ages (which is most of our adult life) have 4 phases to their cycle. The menstrual phase, follicular phase, ovulation phase, and luteal phase. All of which affect women differently and impact our focus and energy levels.
Our every pattern follows suit with the men but over a 28ish day period (I say “ish” because everyone has a different length of cycle. 28 days is just average). It goes a little like this:
- Menstrual: Estrogen and progesterone are low leaving you feeling lethargic and tired
- Follicular: Estrogen starts to build and so do your energy levels (this is that feel-good week)
- Ovulation: Estrogen peaks leaving you feeling your best
- Luteal: estrogen will slowly taper down as progesterone increases leaving us feeling a bit more sluggish and mellow. Workouts during this time will likely not be your best and that’s ok!
After our reproductive ages and maybe having children, we begin to slip into perimenopause. This is where things get interesting. Read on to see how you can support your body through these changes because I know you want to feel good at all times of life.
Simply put: WOMEN ARE NOT SMALL MEN so “how to each right” doesnt always apply to everyone! typically studies are done on men and just recently reproductive womena re being included.
This is where the greatest amount of growth happens in height and weight. This is also the time when a young lady’s ovaries will start to release reproductive hormones and kick-start her menstrual cycle. The age at which all of this happens is different for everyone but will likely happen in the early teens.
If you have a teenage girl going through this there are some things you can speak about to have her understand what is going on.
- Weight gain is normal and to be expected.
- Diets are not a good idea during this development time
- Learning how to support your body properly can make or break the ease of her cycle
Nutrition and daily exercise are extremely important as a young woman develops. I see too many young ladies going on hormonal birth control for the wrong reasons such as painful periods, heavy periods, or any other hormonal imbalance symptoms that have not been more deeply looked into. The pill is not a band-aid and can be detrimental to the development of young women.
As I mentioned above, this is where you will be most of your adult life and no, it doesn’t have to suck! Here are some small things you can do to support your hormonal cycle throughout this phase of life.
- Exercise with your cycle, not against it
- Choose whole, nutrient-dense foods
- Maintain a healthy weight for you and your body
- Manage stress levels and get enough sleep
Sounds pretty simple right? If you are having a hard time managing your hormones, I teach women how to work with their bodies and live cyclically with their cycle. This is our happy place as women because we aren’t SMALL MEN! One more time for the people in the back? Fill out an application below to get started!
During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes significant hormonal changes to support the growth and development of the fetus and to prepare for childbirth and breastfeeding. Hormones play a crucial role in regulating various processes during pregnancy. Some of the key hormonal changes include HCG, Progesterone, estrogen, prolactin, oxytocin, Cortisol, Thyroid hormones, and insulin. Learning how to eat right will have long lasting benefits for you and your lil baby!
These hormonal changes are tightly regulated and orchestrated by the placenta, the organ that develops during pregnancy to provide nutrients and oxygen to the fetus. The changes in hormone levels are essential for maintaining a healthy pregnancy, facilitating fetal growth, and preparing the mother’s body for childbirth and breastfeeding. It’s important to note that individual experiences may vary, and not all women will experience the same hormonal changes to the same extent.
Some key things you can do to take care of your body and your baby at this time are:
1. Prenatal Care:
- Schedule regular prenatal check-ups with a healthcare provider to monitor your health and the baby’s development.
- Follow the recommended prenatal vitamin regimen, including folic acid, iron, calcium, and other essential nutrients.
2. How to eat right:
- Eat a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy products.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
- Avoid excessive caffeine, high-mercury fish, raw or undercooked seafood, and unpasteurized dairy products.
- Engage in regular, moderate exercise with your healthcare provider’s approval. Activities like walking, swimming, and prenatal yoga can be beneficial.
- Avoid high-impact and contact sports that could pose a risk to you and your baby.
4. Rest and Sleep:
- Get enough rest and sleep to support your body’s changes and your baby’s growth.
- Sleep on your left side to improve blood flow to the baby and reduce pressure on major blood vessels.
The female hormonal cycle is truly amazing that we get the power to create life!
Women can be in this phase of life for a while, sometimes even 10 years. This is the time when your hormones start to decline but you have not had your last cycle yet. Some signs you may be in perimenopause are irregular cycles, hot flashes, mood swings, changes in libido, weight changes, and changes in skin and hair.
Women experience this time of life differently and for different lengths of time. Some key things you can do to learn how to eat right and support your body are:
- speak to your doctor, there are some hormone therapies that are beneficial to women going through perimenopause
- Include phytoestrogen foods in your diet to combat your decreasing estrogen levels. Things like: Flax seeds, cruciferous veggies, tofu, sesame seeds, and beans.
- Exercise regularly and if you haven’t already, start strength training!
Menopause and beyond
Menopause is defined as being 12 + months without a cycle and is the end of the female hormonal cycle. After that, you can consider yourself fully through menopause! That was a long process hey?!
Through menopause, a couple of key things happen. 1. You start to lose muscle and bone mass at a fast rate and 2. You will start to experience some unwanted side effects of your decreasing hormone levels. Things like hot flashes, night sweats, mood issues, and weight gain can be a real slap in the face. So, here is how you can leanr how to eat right and naturally combat some of those changes happening.
- eat a diet RICH in vitamin D and calcium to support bone health
- EAT YOUR PROTEIN! This is important for a woman at any stage of life but especially important for women going through menopause to support muscle maintenance.
- implement foods that are high in phytoestrogens. This can help combat some of the unwanted side effects of low estrogen levels
- Naked carbs are not your friend. Having a high-carb meal that is dense in sugar will spike your insulin levels. As we women age and our hormones decrease we become more insulin resistant which can cause some weight gain. Stick to meals that are high in protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs (with fiber)
- Exercise! not just any kind of exercise. STRENGTH TRAINING! This will help maintain your muscles and bones, and keep you flexible throughout your later years.
- Try some HIIT 2 times a week. In addition to strength training, high-intensity interval training with multiplanar movements has been shown to improve muscle and bone density. This is because it is putting a different kind of stress on your body which it will adapt to and become stronger.
Wrapping it all up
As women, we go through a lot of hormonal changes throughout our life. Sometimes it can get really exhausting just white-knuckling your way through the pain so let’s normalize talking about it and learn ways on how to eat right and support ourselves. Through puberty, pregnancy, and perimenopause there is so much more you can do for yourself than just take birth control or some other pill that may have some negative side effects.
Take charge of yourself, take charge of your fertility, and get the guidance you need to Learn how to eat right at each phase of the female hormonal cycle.
Until next time xx