Have you heard the news? Cycle syncing(R) seems to be all the craze in the women’s health and wellness space! Cycle syncing (R) is a lifestyle that tailors the foods you eat, your exercise routine, and even your work schedule to each phase of your cycle. It is used to help balance hormones and allow women to live in harmony with their menstrual cycle. I first learned about cycle syncing (R) on my journey through hypothalamic amenorrhea recovery a few years ago and though it did not help me then, I certainly helps me now I have recovered.
The reason cycle syncing (R) was not useful for me in HA recovery is because my hormones were too low to even be balanced. I had to go through HA treatment to get my period back and then seek to balance my hormone levels. This is when cycle syncing came in! Signs you may have a hormonal imbalance also include:
- Weight gain
- irregular periods
- skin irritation
- hair loss
- abnormal hair growth
- intense PMS
- period cramps (no they are not normal!)
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!
But wait…What is Cycle syncing (R) anyways?
Cycle syncing (R) was created by Alisa Vitti, author of “Womancode” and “in the Flo” which is where I learned how to cycle sync! Alisa was struggling with PCOS and all the side effects that come along with it when she decided to do something about it. Thus, the cycle syncing method(TM) was born!
If youre wondering why im putting (R) behind “cycle sycning” its because It is now a registered trademark symbol!
Alisa has an amazing platform filled with helpful information for women called Floliving. You can check out her resources here!
Before I get into “how to cycle sync” let me explain the behind the scenes action of your menstrual cycle.
The basics of menstruation: phases of your menstrual cycle
Your menstrual cycle has 4 phases to it.
Please note – if you are currently on hormonal birth control the hormonal shifts will not apply to you. Learn more on what happens to your cycle on the pill here.
For cycling women, this is what happens in each phase of your cycle:
Menstrual: This phase lasts 1-7 days and starts on the first day of bleeding. During the menstrual phase your female dominant hormones (estrogen and progesterone) are at their lowest points. If you were to become pregnant during this cycle your period would not arrive and progesterone would stay elevated much like an extended luteal phase.
Follicular: This phase lasts from days 7-14, starts on the last day of bleeding through the days of ovulation. The female hormone estrogen is starting to build as a follicle is maturing in preparation of ovulation. Energy will be building and you will feel more like yourself. You know that “week” women refer to that is the only good week per month? This is that time they are referring to!
Ovulation: this phase lasts from days 14-17. Your body is preparing to ovulate! This is the main event of a woman’s cycle and is the peak of estrogen levels. The follicle has matured and released an egg into the fallopian tubes to get fertilized. Testosterone is also at its highest making energy high along with sexual energy;) you know what I mean ladies.
Luteal: this phase lasts from days 17-28. Your body has ovulated and the follicle is now producing progesterone. Estrogen will begin to lower throughout the luteal phase as progesterone takes the lead. At this time, you will begin to notice yourself slow down, get tired easily, and want to be less social. All of which is very normal!
How to utilize cycle syncing (R) in each phase of your menstrual cycle
Cycle syncing (R) is just tailoring your diet, exercise regimen, and work life in accordance to the changes going on hormonally. Below are the best foods to incorporate and ways to move your body in each phase of your cycle. Trust me, once you try out this routine – you wont go back!
Here is the low down of what you are goin to focus on in each phase of your cycle. Lets start with the menstrual phase!
Phase 1: menstrual phase
GRAINS: Buckwheat, wild rice
VEGGIES: beet, kale, mushrooms (button, shitake), wakame (seaweed), water chestnut
FRUIT: blackberries, blueberries, watermelon, cranberry
NUTS/SEEDS: chestnut, pumpkin seeds, flax
MEAT/SEAFOOD: duck, pork, crab, lobster, sardine, squid, scallop
LEGUMES: kidney, black soybean
Exercise: as estrogen and progesterone are low, one will be feeling fatigued. Therefore, you will want to focus on restorative forms of exercise such as light yoga and walking. Napping is also considered a sport in my books
Work flow: one may feel a sense of relief and are equipped to process information logically due to enhanced intuition. this is not a time to schedule meetings or social gatherings (obviously it happens sometimes) but you will not be feeling as extroverted during this phase.
Phase 2: follicular phase
GRAINS: Barley, oat
VEGGIES: Broccoli, Carrot, Lettuce, Parsley, Zucchini, Green peas, String beans
FRUIT: Avocado, Lemon, Lime, Plum, Pomegranate, cherry
LEGUMES: Green lentil, Lima bean, Split pea
NUTS/SEEDS: Pumpkin, Flax, Cashew, Brazil nut
MEAT/SEFOOD: Eggs, Chicken, Trout, Clam, crab
OTHER: Nut butter, Fermented foods (sauerkraut, pickles, vinegar)
Exercise: As energy is high, so is muscle recovery! This is the time to go for your one rep max in the weight room, do HIIT cardio, or longer run sessions.
Work flow: Be proactive and get creative! This is the time to tackle tricky and complex tasks as well as plan some meetings or social events
Phase 3: ovulatory phase
VEGGIES : Asparagus, Brussel sprouts, Chard, Bell pepper, Eggplant, Tomato, spinach
FRUIT: Apricot, Coconut, Fig, Cantaloupe, Strawberry, Raspberry, guava
LEGUMES: Red lentil
NUTS/SEEDS: Almond, Pecan, Pistachio, Sunflower, sesame
MEAT/SEAFOOD: Lamb, Salmon, Tuna, shrimp
Exercise: Energy is at its highest point so utalize it as you wish! I love HIIT, long cycle rides, and weight lifting during this time
Work flow: You are most extroverted in this phase so anything and everything on your social calendar is preferred in this time.
Phase 4: luteal phase
GRAINS: Brown rice, millet
VEGGIES: Cabbage, cauliflower, Celery, Cucumber, Ginger, Onion, Parsnip, Pumpkin, Squash, Sweet potato
FRUIT: Apple, Dates, Peach, Pear, raisin
LEGUMES: Chickpeas, Navy beans
NUTS/SEEDS: Sunflower, Sesame, Pine nut, walnut
MEAT/SEAFOOD: Beef, Turkey, Cod, halibut
Exercise: As energy decreases throughout this week, listen to your body and do some light yoga or walking on the days nearing your period. Muscle recovery is poor during this time so it would be counter productive to kill yourself with heavy lifts and HIIT.
Work flow: Lighted up your workload the best you can, try to limit social events and one to one conversations to focus on solo tasks. Use this time to relax and perform duties that don’t take as much brain power. At the end of a long work day, practice some self care:)
What if your cycle is irregular?
Irregular cycles can be due to a hormonal imbalance, usually low progesterone. However, conditions such as PCOS can be at fault as well. I recommend getting blood work done and seeing where your hormonal levels sit. Additionally, you can rule out endocrine conditions such as PCOS or endometriosis.
Test don’t guess!
What if you are on hormonal birth control?
For women on hormonal birth control and would like to cycle sync, start day one when you start your bleed. Your pill cycle should be 28 days long so you can follow the exact outline to a T. It is important to note that ovulation is not occurring when you are on hormonal contraceptives like the pill. Therefore, the natural shifts in estrogen and progesterone are not happening.
If you would like to read more on how the pill effects your body and brain, read this.
The bottom line
Cycle syncing (R) is an awesome way to get in touch with your body. As you can see, hormones effect much more than just the reproductive system! They influence your mood, metabolism, appetite, etc. Therefore, cycle syncing (R) can benefit you in more ways than one! Also, you do not need to follow the cycle syncing method to a T in order to see hormonal improvments! Just stick to mostly phase specific foods and exercise, no need to stress about the details.
Have you tried cycle syncing (R)? If not are you going to give it a go? Let me know in the comments bellow and don’t forget to follow my social media platforms for more cycle syncing (R) tips!