No matter how many years it’s been, periods never get easier.
At some points in the month, women feel amazing, attractive, strong, able to tackle anything.
Other times – particularly in the days leading up to menstruation – the cramps and lethargy are overwhelming, and sweet craving derail any gym and diet routine.
That’s aside from the pelvic pain and skin break-outs.
It is tempting as some stages in your cycle to drop all your good intentions and just bury yourself in a sofa with pizza.
But there is a healthy way to work with your body to stay vibrant, trim, and nourished – while giving yourself a break when you need it.
Tackling the cycle: At some points in the month, women feel strong and able to tackle anything. At other times, the pain and lethargy is overwhelming, and the cravings soar
A new study has outlined how women should tailor their diets and exercise regimes to their menstrual cycle.
And according to the researchers at the University of Copenhagen, women who tested their theory lost an average of nine pounds during the six-month clinical trial.
Daily Mail Online has spoken to New York City-based dietician Limor Baum to break down what happens at each stage and what your body needs.
‘Women should feel more legitimized about wanting more food at a certain point,’ Baum says.
‘There are times on your period where women’s metabolic rate goes up so it is completely fine to eat more.
‘That doesn’t mean reaching for the cake or the fried fish. But there are other foods, including carbs, that can satisfy those cravings and they’re good for you.’
Here, with some input from Baum, we have compiled a guide to each phase:
PHASE ONE (MENSTRUATION)
Once menstruation starts, most women feel a sense of relief.
In the days before, it is common to feel tense, irritable, and bloated, with pelvic pain, bad skin and sore breasts.
This hormonal shift typically makes women feel tired.
At this stage, your appetite is normally smaller than usual. Listen to your body: smaller portion sizes and lighter snacks should suffice.
What you do eat should contain the nutrients you need to replenish your body as you are losing blood.
Breakfast: As you menstruate you need to restore your body with vitamin C from fruit, vitamin B from whole grains, and iron, which you can dust onto oatmeal in the form of sesame seed
Crucially, you need plenty of iron, Baum explains.
This can come from red meat, shellfish, beans, pulses, dark greens, and sesame.
You also need balance that out with vitamin C from orange and red pepper, and vitamin B from eggs or whole grains.
From calcium try yogurt and sesame.
BREAKFAST: Oatmeal with yogurt, strawberries and sesame seeds
LUNCH: Chickpea salad with red pepper, spinach, apricot and sesame seeds
DINNER: Chicken with brown rice and spinach
SNACK: Dried fruit like prunes, or yogurt
According to the study you should give your body a break.
Get early nights and stick to light exercises like walks and yoga.
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PHASE 2 (FOLLICULAR)
This is the stage when women tend to feel fantastic.
As estrogen levels rise, so too does a woman’s libido and energy.
For about 10 days (time length varies from person to person), women tend to feel particularly attractive and strong.
It is called the ‘follicular phase’ because it is when the follicles in a woman’s ovaries get the eggs ready for release.
This happens because the pituitary gland releases Follicle Stimulating Hormones (FSH), which stimulates the follicles to mature.
Energy up: Take advantage of your energy in phase two, get moving. Try a kick-boxing class
With increased energy, you will feel a greater drive to work out more and fuel up.
You’re naturally going to crave stronger portion sizes than when you were menstruating.
Vitamin B12 – found in red meat – is key for nourishing cells and preparing your body for exercise.
You also want to eat more capsaicin (the active stimulant in chilies) to open up the arteries.
Essentially you want to eat more of what you had during phase one, while adding more energy sources.
BREAKFAST: Scrambled eggs
LUNCH: Corn-flour tacos with beef, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, radish, and lime
DINNER: Lamb with whole grain couscous salad including tomato and mint
SNACK: Nuts and seeds
Take advantage of your energy: get moving.
Try some interval training or a kick-boxing class.
Ovulation happens in the middle of your cycle – 14 days before your period starts.
It can happen anywhere between day 12 and day 16 of a woman’s cycle.
This stage is when mature eggs are released and pushed down the fallopian tube to be fertilized by sperm.
The egg is available for fertilization for about 12 to 24 hours. Sperm can survive in the uterus for up to five days.
Women are at their most active in this stage – and their sex drive is at its peak.
At your peak: Now is the time to push yourself to a new level. Fuel up with avocado to
Your energy levels are even stronger than in phase two, so eating well is crucial.
Zinc is also key to aid cell division – whether you’re trying to conceive or not.
It is in a woman’s best interests to keep the natural fertility cycle moving, even while they are using birth control.
Fish, figs, and whole grains are a good source of zinc.
BREAKFAST: Avocado toast or sliced banana on toast
LUNCH: Falafel salad with lettuce, hot pepper, tahini, and hummus
DINNER: Salmon with broccoli, tomatoes, and potatoes
SNACK: Fresh figs with ricotta cheese
You are at your peak so now is the time to try something new, or to push yourself to a new level.
Run an extra mile, try a spin class for the first time, or maybe go dancing.
PHASE 3 (LUTEAL)
This phase is long. The first two days will feel good. The rest is the hardest bit of the entire cycle.
Essentially, your uterus is being prepared for a possible pregnancy and the lining of your uterus becomes thicker.
Estrogen and testosterone levels plummet, and the body produces more progesterone, an anti-anxiety hormone that will make you feel calm and tranquil, as if you want to rest.
Then is the tough stage.
Pre-menstrual stress (PMS), cramps, headaches, break-outs, pain, lethargy, anger, tender breasts, weak legs, intense hunger – it all happens at this point.
Find out how app tracks your monthly cycle (related)
It is important to stay active, but to pace yourself. Movement will help alleviate some of your more painful symptoms. Get early nights, incorporate stretching like yoga or a gentle swim
After the first two days stage, your appetite feels like it’s going through the roof.
According to Limor Baum and the University of Copenhagen study, that is absolutely fine.
Your metabolism rates are rocketing.
As with every other stage: listen to your body.
You crave carbs, so eat them. Just make sure it is good produce like whole wheat pasta or sweet potato.
You will also be craving sweet food. Try to avoid soda, cake, and candy. Turn to fruit, dark chocolate, a smoothie, or natural peanut butter with a drizzle of honey.
Magnesium, omega 3, and dairy are recommended to help with PMS. Magnesium supplements, often used to treat migraines, can help in this stage.
BREAKFAST: Peanut butter and jelly on whole grain toast
LUNCH: Sweet potato and lentil salad with walnuts and tahini
DINNER: Coconut milk Thai green curry with brown rice and mango chutney
SNACK: Banana with honey or agave, or nuts and seeds
It is important to stay active, but to pace yourself.
Movement will help alleviate some of your more painful symptoms.
Get early nights, incorporate stretching like yoga or a gentle swim.
Sourced from :Daily Mail