In our last blog post, we talked about If Cycle Syncing Right For You. These are things you need to ask yourself before jumping into modifying your nutrition based on your menstrual cycle. Once you’ve established the base, now you can implement some fueling modifications based on what phase of your cycle you are in.
Why Sync Your Nutrition With Your Cycle?
Throughout your cycle, the levels of various hormones differ and fluctuate, thus affecting your energy levels, digestion, sleep, and athletic performance. In general, nutrition impacts all bodily functions from mood to physical health. As such, as your body goes through changes throughout the month, you can adjust your nutrition correspondingly to help promote optimal function. Syncing your nutrition with your cycle can help you feel better throughout your cycle, as well as improve your overall performance.
A reminder that having a regular period is important, even if you are an athlete (learn more about why in this blog post). Not having your period is a sign that there is an underlying issue. In athletes, a lack of a period is often due to under-fueling. Inadequate fueling leaves you not only hungry and miserable but also lowers your ability to recover and hinders your immune system. In addition, athletes report increased chances of depression and eating disorders. Most importantly with regards to your menstrual cycle, under-fueling prevents your body from generating sufficient amounts of the hormones that allow for a monthly period to come.
The Start of Your Period
The first day you get your period marks Day 1 of your menstrual cycle. This phase lasts anywhere from 1-6 days on average. During this time, the levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone are low and you are shedding your uterine lining.
3 Sports Nutrition Tips for Your Period
1. Increase red meat consumption to 1-2 times per week.
When you are on your period, you experience increased blood loss, therefore increased iron loss. This is why females have higher iron needs than males. Red meat contains heme iron, which is more readily absorbable than iron from plant sources (non-heme iron). For those who are primarily plant-based or do not eat red meat, I suggest pairing all plant sources of iron with vitamin C to increase absorption.
2. Add in extra hydration.
Because you are experiencing blood loss, you need to actively intake more water. I recommend adding in at least an additional 8 ounces of water per day (~1 glass).
3. Add more magnesium in your diet.
Magnesium can help aid in your cramps and pain as it soothes your muscles and helps relax your body. Look for sources of magnesium in dark leafy veggies, cherry juice, almonds, salmon, tuna, or olive oil! If you’re looking for more ideas on how to incorporate magnesium into your diet, this blog post shows you can add more magnesium to your meals and meet your daily requirements with food!
Next time your period comes, try these tips out and see how you feel! And if you want to learn more about fueling your cycle, join the Performance Fueling Club (PFC). I help female athletes adjust their nutrition based on their cycle to maximize their performance and wellbeing. If you are interested in getting guidance from a certified Sports Dietitian, apply to PFC!