“Accept your monthly rhythm or how to design your nutritional and training program, taking into account the monthly phases of menstrual periodization”
Women are complex creatures. We often don’t know what we want, yet we want it NOW! Especially in the days before our period when the fluctuating hormones drive us off-balance. Well… we can’t change our nature.
The sooner we accept it, the sooner we will be able to actually enjoy the advantages of being a female. In terms of nutrition, women produce the same amounts of protein after working out and eating as men. And when it comes to physical performance, women naturally have higher cardio endurance, they may lift less weight but use more repetitions and take shorter breaks. In short, we are generally more productive and flexible. The only thing that distinguishes us are the hormonal changes we experience within every 28 to 33 days. Some may consider this as weakness, but in fact, we can take advantage of these changes by following their rhythm.
Here, I will only introduce the menstrual cycle phases and in future articles I will look at them in more detail:
- Early Follicular
- Late Follicular
- Medium Luteal
- Late Luteal
In each of the phases, the hormone levels fluctuate, affecting our ability to gain muscle and reduce fat. We will discuss this matter in following posts. Now I will focus on PMS sugar cravings and how we can deal with them.
We often feel guilty… we even hide to eat 1-2, or maybe a whole pack of chocolate biscuits, and then we hate ourselves. This energy definitely sends wrong signals to the body. What if I tell you that there is a way to eat cake without affecting your figure? It might seem counterintuitive, but accepting your cravings and keeping them in check, rather than trying to fight them, is one of the most effective methods for changing your response to food.
Just note that I’m talking about eating small portions of additional food, such as honey, dried fruits, fruits, as well as complex carbohydrates products, such as rice, pasta or pulses. Every woman’s dream of being able to eat unlimited amounts of chocolate without gaining weight is simply not possible. We can just control our cravings by applying one of these two methods:
If you are not maintaining certain caloric balance you can eat a little bit more until the first day of your period and then cutting on food by avoiding carbohydrates and trans fats, while also increasing your water intake from 0.3 litres per kilogram to 0.4 litres per kilogram body weight.
The same principle, but including some calculations, applies for those of you who keep track of their calorie intake, or:
- maintain balanced eating habits, such as avoiding foods fried in vegetable oils (use only animal fats or coconut oil),
- consume a large amount of fiber (~ 25g for women, ~ 35g for men, ~ 50g for people suffering from diabetes),
- watch their water intake (read Martin Dimitrov’s article on the recommended daily water intake).
Let’s take my daily calorie intake for example. Currently, I consume 2,000 kcal in training days and 1,700 kcal in rest days. Two days before my period I usually have a strong desire for sweets or just something rich in carbohydrates. Here, I have two options:
Option 1: To eat my daily portion of calories and write down in my log everything on top of that. After the start of my period, I decrease my daily calorie consumption by the same amount as I have exceeded the previous 1-2 days, or simply stick to my rest-days diet.
So, two days before my period I consume 2,200kcal and work out as much as I can. Then, for the first two days of my menstruation I eat 1,700kcal and skip training due to a lack of energy.
Option 2: I keep the caloric balance, but I reduce the amount of fat in half and replace it with more carbs.
160 g Protein / 200 g Carbohydrates / 65 g Fat = 2025 kcal
160 g Protein / 267.5 g Carbohydrate / 35 g Fat = 2025 kcal
This little difference is enough to satisfy any sweet craving, especially if you prepare the food yourself and experiment with different products and recipes. I want to note that the fat consumption should be reduced only for a short period of time — a day or two. Fats are essential for women’s health and hormonal balance. We should eat at least 1g per kilogram body weight a day.
I’ll give you just a few examples of good carbs:
- In 100 g of honey there are about 80 g of carbohydrate
- In 100 g of dates there are about 57 g of carbohydrate
- In 100 g of bananas there are about 20 g of carbohydrate
- In 100 g of raisins there are about 70 g of carbohydrate
- In 100 g of oatmeal there are about 50 g of carbohydrate
My recipe for home-made chocolate spread:
50 g black elderberry syrup – 0.25 g fat, 0.33 g protein, 9.2 g carbohydrate, of which 3.5 g fiber
50 g hazelnut tahini – 31 g fats, 7 g protein, carbohydrates 9 g, of which 6 g fiber
20 g organic cocoa powder – 8,4 g fats, 2,8 protein, 6,3 g carbohydrate, of which 6,3 g fiber
20 g melted coconut oil – 20 g fats
Total nutritional value in 140 g: 609,92kcal
So, you don’t need to feel guilty every month, just make some smart decisions without depriving yourself from the food you crave for. Find your own rhythm, follow it and enjoy it!
Main source: Bayesianbodybuilding.com