Sincronización del ciclo: elección de alimentos y dieta para el equilibrio hormonal


by Ashley Kadlubar, RD


Eating a well-balanced diet is one of the cornerstones of healthy living. But you may have noticed times throughout the month when you’re hungrier or craving a specific type of food. This may be because of the hormonal changes that happen throughout your menstrual cycle, which is where the idea of cycle syncing comes in.

¿Qué es la sincronización del ciclo?

Cycle syncing is when you try to optimize your well-being by adjusting your life to the natural hormonal fluctuations that occur throughout your menstrual cycle. Often, women choose to cycle sync their workouts or their diets, as energy levels and nutritional needs vary throughout the month. The approach is designed to achieve a better hormonal balance.

Cycle syncing: The menstrual phases

The menstrual cycle is a natural process of the female reproductive system. It is a series of hormonal changes that prepare a woman’s body for pregnancy each month. The menstrual cycle typically lasts around 28 days, although this can vary for each woman.

The menstrual cycle has four phases:

  1. Menstrual phase (days 1-5): Known as menstruation, this phase starts with bleeding as the uterine lining sheds.
  2. Follicular phase (days 1-13): This phase begins with menstruation and ends with ovulation. During this time, hormones stimulate ovarian follicle growth.
  3. Ovulation (day 14): Hormones increase and prompt egg release from the ovary—this is the phase for peak fertility.
  4. Luteal phase (days 15-28): After ovulation, the uterus prepares for a fertilized egg. If no fertilization happens, the cycle restarts.

Benefits of cycle syncing your diet

While cycle syncing isn’t considered a diet, it does promote the common goal of optimizing health by being more intentional about how we fuel ourselves.

Being intentional about the changes happening in your body each month allows you to plan ahead for potential hunger, changes in mood and cravings—instead of feeling overwhelmed in the moment.

Many women also report that choosing certain foods throughout the month can improve premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Some studies have shown that excess sugar, salt, caffeine and alcohol can potentially increase PMS symptoms, so avoiding these during particular phases can ease symptoms and discomfort.

Cycle syncing can also be beneficial for women experiencing perimenopause and menopause to regulate hormones.

Ciclo sincronizando tu dieta

Although eating a well-balanced diet is key to health at every stage of life, focusing on certain foods to align with your menstrual phase may help you feel more energized throughout the month. Foods considered anti-inflammatory are of great benefit throughout all phases, including berries, ginger and whole grains.

Nutrition during the menstrual phase

The menstrual phase is the start of your period and bleeding and is the lowest point of your estrogen levels. Drops in estrogen can lead to lower energy levels, fatigue, irritability and cramping. These symptoms could be linked to the onset of cravings for sweets and energy-dense comfort foods.

Due to increased bleeding and cramping, try to focus on foods with a high concentration of iron. Iron-rich foods include:

  • Frijoles
  • Vegetales de hoja verde
  • Lean red meat
  • Lentejas

As vitamin C helps with iron absorption, it’s a good idea to incorporate foods with plenty of vitamin C during this time:

  • Bayas
  • Pimientos
  • Coles de Bruselas
  • Brócoli
  • Citrus fruits, like grapefruit and oranges
  • Los tomates

Nutrition during the follicular phase

The follicular phase of the menstrual cycle is when the body's estrogen levels are rising, and the ovaries are preparing to release an egg. Nutrition during this phase can support hormone balance, energy levels and overall health.

For the follicular phrase, focus on:

  • Lean proteins, like chicken and turkey
  • Non-starchy vegetables, including broccoli
  • Healthy fats, such as avocados
  • High-fiber carbohydrates, like oats and sweet potatoes

Nutrition during the ovulation phase

The ovulation phase is where we typically see a rise in estrogen and therefore energy. With more energy, we likely feel less burdened by cravings. If you have more energy and are moving your body more, you need to make sure you’re fueling yourself with nutrient-rich foods.

The ovulation phase is similar to the follicular phase. Focus your diet on healthy foods to support energy and balance:

  • Lean proteins
  • Non-starchy vegetables, including leafy greens, broccoli and cauliflower
  • Healthy fats like avocados, seeds and nuts
  • Complex and high-fiber carbs, including oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes and fruits

Nutrition during the luteal phase

The luteal phase is where most women will report symptoms of PMS, which could lead to increased cravings and potentially more hunger. Hydration is also particularly important during this menstruation phase, as it can help with bloating and feeling full.

For the luteal phase continue to focus your meals around:

  • Lean protein
  • Complex carbs, such as beans, whole grain pastas and breads

If you do have cravings, lean into whole food options for sweet and salty treats, such as dark chocolate, fruit, nuts or seeds.

Is cycle syncing nutrition right for you?

Intentional eating and listening to your body are very beneficial to your health. Understanding your menstrual phases and nutritional needs throughout the month can be helpful to many people. Being mindful and patient with our bodies leads to less stress, anxiety and better nurturing of our unique needs—and we all deserve that!

For more guidance on your nutritional needs, reach out to a dietitian near you.

Sobre el Autor

Ashley es dietista registrada en el centro de cirugía de pérdida de peso en Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Grapevine.

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