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07 Aug, 2023

How to eat with your cycle

As well as a circadian rhythm, women have an infradian rhythm, which means our body works on a monthly cycle. Our hormones, brain, metabolism, immune system, stress response and digestion all change throughout the month. Whilst some advocate for tailoring diets to specific phases of the menstrual cycle to support hormonal balance, the reality is that such an approach can be challenging to implement consistently. While it may work well for some individuals, managing a highly regimented diet can be intrusive to daily life and difficult to sustain in the long term. Therefore, the focus should be prioritising a balanced diet consisting of whole, nutrient-dense ingredients can offer more sustainable benefits for overall health, including hormonal balance. However, you may find that working with the changes in your body, if you can, can alleviate PMS symptoms and help you feel your best.


According to nutritional therapist Phoebe Liebling, there is a defined link between reproductive hormones and blood sugar levels. For those who need a refresher the menstrual cycle starts on day 1 with the 1st day of a woman’s period. This is referred to as the follicular phase and runs for the first 12-14 days until she ovulates, from then you have the luteal phase which runs until the start of her next period. In the follicular phase oestrogen is the dominant hormone whereas progesterone is dominant in the luteal phase. Higher progesterone levels make a woman naturally more insulin resistant which is why they will feel hungrier, crave more sweets and carbohydrates, and actually just need more food generally in the week or so before their menstrual bleed.

Increasing antioxidant levels through more colourful variety in their diet, maybe adding in plenty of targeted options like turmeric, limiting stimulants and prioritising sleep helps to prevent that natural switch in blood sugar sensitivity from becoming an issue. Those who don’t cycle-sync may find they are more perturbed by their cycle than those who vary their habits depending on their dominant hormone status.

I will always impress the importance to female clients that they adapt their exercise to prevent that interplay between stress hormones and high insulin I described at the beginning. More dynamic when oestrogen is high and much more calming when progesterone is in control.

According to female health expert Jodie Brandman, we can optimise each phase of our cycle by adjusting our diet and lifestyle accordingly.

  1. Menstruation (days 1-3 or 7, depending on how long menstruation lasts) is when our hormones drop to their lowest levels and its better to rest. If we try and power through, we may see more period problems and PMS. It’s a time to hibernate, like Winter, consume easy to digest soups and stews, and iron rich foods (pulses, lean meats, leafy greens), and quit exercise for a few days (other than walking). We are so much more intuitive here so a great time to make decisions, and self care is vital! If we start to sync with our cycle and work with them rather than against them, we will ultimately feel so much better. We recommend our Protein or Vegan Cleanse plans for this phase delivering sustaining, balanced foods to support a slower lifestyle.
  2. Our follicular phase (days 3-11 or 17, depending on how long menstruation lasts) is a time when our oestrogen starts to rise and is comparable to the season of Spring; our energy goes up, we're perhaps more creative, more sociable and have more stamina. During this phase, you may want to eat light, fresh foods with lots of veggies like salads, smoothies and stir fries, as this supports our gut health and oestrogen clearance. It’s a time when we can do more intense exercises like HIIT and a little cardio. It’s a great time to set goals and start new projects. We recommend our Vegan or Active Maintain to support a more active lifestyle.
  3. Ovulation (any day from days 12-18, depending on how long menstruation lasts) is when we release an egg and oestrogen surges. Just like the season of Summer, we tend to have loads of energy and we’re more outgoing. Raw foods are tolerated well and it’s great to add lots of leafy green veg to help detoxification. This is when confidence and libido may be at it's highest, and we can really start to make things happen in our life! We recommend our leaner, high-protein plans - our Green or Green with Protein Cleanse. Otherwise, you might feel this is a good time to practice intermittent-fasting for gut-healing and metabolic benefits, with our 3-Day Reset, depending on how you feel.
  4. Our luteal phase (days 13-24 or 35, depending on how long menstruation lasts) is the time between ovulation and our period, and it’s when we may want to start slowing things down. Oestrogen dips and progesterone, our calming hormone, starts to rise. Just like the cooler season of Autumn, we tend to need more calories and warming foods with root veggies. We ideally calm down our exercise and focus on restorative practices like yoga. It’s a great time to reflect and use critical thinking! We recommend our Vegan or Protein Cleanse again at this time. Our fresh juices, puddings and herbal teas on these plans should provide that satisfying nourishing sweet treat to beat those sugar cravings!

Our meal plans are perfectly balanced, designed to deliver all the essential vitamins and nutrients you need to build a stronger and healthier gut microbiome, which in turn will support hormonal production and regulation. Check out our options for all dietary preferences and lifestyles here.