Sorry it has taken me this long to write about the 4th and last phase of woman’s cycle. If you new to my blog and not sure what the hell am talking about check out my 1st post of this series where I summarise this topic “LINK HERE”…
Then come back to this post… Where I will discuss specifically about the 4th phase, THE LUTEAL PHASE, including, body changes, lifestyle changes and what foods you should consume with links to recipes you might want to try in each phase
So as most of you know the woman’s cycle is 28 day, more or less. Some may have a longer or a shorter one, but each cycle consists of the 4 phases in this order:
- The Menstrual phase (usually last 3-7 days) (the link here take you to the post the 1st phase)
- The Follicular Phase (usually last 7-10 days) (the link here take you to the post the 2nd phase)
- The Ovulatory Phase (usually last 3-4 days) HERE!!
- The Luteal phase (usually lasts 12-16 days)
& then back again to the 1st phase!
So what is the Luteal Phase?
The luteal phase is the phase after ovulation and before menstruation.. it is that week before your period when PMS creeps in and you may start experiencing food cravings, usually, chocolate, sugar, carbs & fatty foods! you might also start to feel tired and not in the mood for that gym session or generally less energetic and productive! Although it may seem like the worse phase I find understanding and knowing why it happens helps A LOT….
Firstly, all of this happens since your body is doing so much work, however there is a way to ease PMS and even completely get rid them and feel great all month long… & this is why I decided to write a series all about the woman’s cycle as I honestly think there is nothing more liberating then understanding our own body!
Anyways let’s start with what is happening to you from the inside,
Hormone focus: Progesterone continues to rise until just before the end of this phase when estrogen, testosterone and progesterone all plummet to their lowest levels. If you are trying to get pregnant this is one of the most important phases. the rise in progesterone signals the body to keep the uterine lining intact. It also signals the pituitary to stop sending out follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, to ensure that only one egg is released into the uterus at a time. Estrogen levels continue to rise. Toward the end of the cycle, if the egg hasn’t been fertilized the corpus luteum is reabsorbed into the body.
Body focus: physical energy declines, and premenstrual symptoms may develop, particularly in the second half of this phase, such as bloating, irritability, headache, mood swings & cravings.
Lifestyle focus = Awareness, attention & comfort are key now. Energy softens & turns inward. This is the Ideal time to reorganize things. Not to mention, looking after yourself and slow things down. If you deny the natural need (you have to slow down and turn inward) feelings of resentment, frustration and anger find a way to surface. That is the time to give yourself permission to move a little slower and take extra care of yourself – so let it be & enjoy it! J
Exercise focus = since energy levels start to decline (for the majority at least) allow yourself to scale back to any intense exercise. Or at least be aware that feeling tired and less motivated is completely normal. Have few days off the gym or simply slow things down will actually do you more good than you think! However, if you still have the energy and want to stick to your exercise regime, focus on more gentle workouts, like walking, vinyasa yoga and Pilates to go easier on your body.
This Phase can actually be split into two halves, where the 1st half you might still feel great and able to continue with your intense workout (i.e. weight training). Whereas on the 2nd half, things your body starts to slow down and more gentle exercises are best!
Awareness of the 4 phases has really changed my life. I know my body much better now. I can predict the way I will be feeling, and what sort of activities will be best for me on this or that day.
Food focus = focus mainly on grains & greens. Below is a table that has food for each phase.
The foods you see for the luteal phase are rich in B vitamins, calcium, magnesium & fibre. Combined they will optimise the quality of the luteal phase. Firstly, they starve off sugar cravings caused by the heavy use of B vitamins in promoting progesterone production. Secondly, the calcium- magnesium combination in leafy greens is essential in mitigating the effects of fluids retention that are problematic for the women during this phase. Finally, the fibre concentration will help your liver & large intestine flush estrogen more efficiently through the bowel.
If you’re the kind that has a sweet tooth at this phase, go for natural sugars & avoid refined white sugar. Try roasting or baking your vegetables, which increases their concentration & make them taste sweeter. In addition, make sure you have adequate intake of complex carbohydrate to stabilize serotonin & dopamine levels in the brain & help prevent mood swings.
& here you have it ladies & gents! hope you all found this series helpful & interesting!
Lots of love,