Have you ever heard the saying, ‘anything you can do, I can do bleeding'? Exercising, working or simply carrying on with the day, we do it once a month WHILST cramping, menstruating and trying not to spontaneously cry/laugh/smack someone/scream. Ladies – not only does your period affect mood, it has a major effect on your energy levels. During the third or fourth week of your cycle, have you ever noticed this plunge? Ever been in the middle of a workout and just been like, “nah, I’m good”?
Instead of fearing this time of the month, we can actually embrace it, harness it and learn to be more in tune with our bodies when eating and exercising.
OPTIMUM BUTT-KICKING TIME
As you’ve probably felt, the first two weeks of your cycle are when you have the most energy to exercise. These two weeks are the low hormone phase, when estrogen levels are minimal. With that said, this is the best time to focus on strength training and more difficult, performance based exercise. If you’re looking to whip through those tabata classes or hike that 14er, this is your window of opportunity.
EAT FOR POWER
Nutrition also plays a crucial role in your ability to crush during this time. According to the book, ROAR: How to Match Your Food & Fitness to Your Female Physiology for Optimum Performance, Great Health & a Strong, Lean Body for Life a structured macronutrient diet helps optimize the natural kick in energy you are already feeling at this time. Macro-whaaa?
Here is a simple breakdown you can follow:
- Protein: 30-35% of your daily caloric intake (25-30g ideally within 30 minutes of exercise). Think Kura Protein Powder or Cliff Bars
- Carbs: this should make up 40-45% of your daily caloric intake. Think whole grains, sweet potatoes, oatmeal
- Fats: 30% of your daily caloric intake. Think olive oil, avocados, fish
The last two weeks of your cycle, feel free to take a laid back approach to exercise. At this point, your estrogen levels are starting to peak resulting in decreased energy (AKA motivation for anything other than eating Ben & Jerry’s while binging Netflix).
Be one with your PMS, you’ve already gotten the difficult training of the month out of the way. During this time, your body can feel muscle soreness more acutely. With that said, focus on cardio and restorative type exercises. Maintaining a nutritious, balanced diet is key at this point in your cycle. Your metabolism is working harder, which is why you might be craving everything under the sun. By sticking with your normal healthy-eating routine, you can stay full and bypass that pizza (save it for the cheat day).
Remember, if you’re feeling a heavy-duty workout in the third week of your cycle, go for it! The point here is just to be aware of what generally physiologically happens during a woman’s cycle and how to plan for it. Do you have a workout schedule that is in line with your cycle? Tells us what’s been working for you!