What You Need To Know About Cycle Syncing
What You Need To Know About Cycle Syncing

What You Need To Know About Cycle Syncing

Ever wondered why some days you struggle to find the motivation to work out and some days you’re raring to go? The answer might lie in cycle syncing, a process that matches your approach to health to your menstrual cycle to support your body during its hormonal changes, and help you feel your best. Here’s what you need to know…
By Georgia Day

What is cycle syncing?

“Cycle syncing is a holistic approach to nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle management that aligns with the different phases of the menstrual cycle to optimise your health and well-being,” explains Chloe Thomas of Chloe Inspires. “It recognises that women's hormonal fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle can influence energy levels, metabolism, mood and overall physiology.”

What are the benefits?

“In theory, taking this approach should help you ‘be at your best’ during each phase of the menstrual cycle,” says Jodie Relf, PCOS dietician and spokesperson for MyOva. “However, the evidence supporting a hormone-balancing dietary approach tied to specific menstrual phases is lacking. There's no concrete research validating the need for heightened nutrient intake during certain times of the month for additional benefits.” That said, if nothing else, tracking your cycle and becoming more aware of your own body and its changes is probably not a bad thing. “Cycle syncing aims to empower women to better understand their body and its natural rhythms, and use this to their benefit,” adds Chloe.

What do you need to understand before you start?

An understanding of your own menstrual cycle and its different phases is essential. “You will then be able to learn and identify how you feel during each phase of the menstrual cycle, and being more in tune with your body will then enable you to respond to this,” says Jodie. To that end, it’s important to know the four primary phases of the menstrual cycle: menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase.

Next, personalise your data. “Track your menstrual cycle length and regularity to identify patterns and variations,” suggests Chloe, who recommends using an app to help you keep on top of everything. “Knowing the typical duration of your cycle and the length of each phase can help you tailor your nutrition, exercise and self-care practices accordingly. Pay close attention to any physical or emotional symptoms you experience throughout your cycle, particularly in energy levels, mood swings, food cravings and menstrual cramps.”

What’s the best way to start cycle syncing?

Before you start tracking your cycle, it’s important to think about why you want to do it. Whether it’s for better overall knowledge of your body or moods, optimising your fertility, managing PMS or eating more intuitively, it’s helpful to think about what you want to get out of it before you start. Whatever your approach, try and maintain a relaxed attitude. “Instead of fixating on a rigid dietary and exercise regime tied to menstrual phases, focus on intuitive eating and movement practices that prioritise listening to your body's cues,” says Jodie. “Ultimately, it's about finding a sustainable approach to health and wellbeing that works for you, regardless of the latest trends or fads.”

How should you approach exercise?

The key thing when it comes to working out around your cycle is to exercise according to how you and your body feels. You may have booked an energetic 7am spin class, but if it’s during the early follicular phase when you’re more likely to feel lethargic, it might not make you feel good. If you’re unsure, there are general guidelines to follow which can help, although it’s important to stress that you should listen to your body and adjust your activities based on how you feel. “During menstruation and the early follicular phase, focus on gentle exercise like walking or yoga,” advises Chloe. “As you move into the late follicular phase and ovulation, you can take advantage of increased energy levels with higher-intensity workouts like strength training or HIIT. In the luteal phase, prioritise moderate intensity exercises like cycling, calisthenics or Pilates.”

How should you approach nutrition?

“We should always prioritise well-balanced, nutritious meals, regardless of where we are in our menstrual cycle,” advises Jodie. “During menstruation and the follicular phase, focus on iron-rich foods, complex carbohydrates and foods that support energy levels,” suggests Chloe. “In the luteal phase, prioritise foods rich in magnesium, calcium and vitamin B6 to support mood stability and reduce PMS symptoms.” Jodie also suggests consuming foods that aid digestion and avoid those which induce bloating like onions, garlic and beans during this time.

Any supplements that are good to take alongside cycle syncing?

Although research is lacking when it comes to supplements that can directly enhance cycle syncing, there are plenty that support overall hormone health which could be beneficial. Always consult a healthcare professional before you start taking anything, but omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, vitamins B6 and D, and evening primrose oil are all good options.

How can cycle syncing affect libido and sex life?

“It can help women tune into their natural rhythms and better understand how hormonal fluctuations may influence their libido and sex life,” says Chloe. “By recognising and honouring these changes, women can adapt their approach to intimacy and sexual activity throughout the menstrual cycle to enhance pleasure, satisfaction, and overall well-being.” She adds that women often have a higher libido around ovulation and a lower libido in the luteal phase right before their period. Knowing this might enable better communication with your partner and a greater understanding of your needs.

Is there anything to be aware of?

“One crucial consideration often overlooked is the practicality of implementing such a regime,” says Jodie. “Adopting a diet that shifts four times a month is a monumental task for most individuals. “I love the element of intuitive eating and movement, and just responding based on how your body feels.” For those with irregular menstrual cycles or conditions like PCOS, the concept of cycle syncing may not be applicable or feasible. As well as being realistic about how individual your own menstrual experience is, it is important not to get too bogged down in your tracking. “Obsessive tracking or preoccupation with cycle syncing practices can lead to stress or anxiety, which may negate the intended benefits,” explains Chloe. And beware potential disappointment. “Not every cycle will be exactly as planned, and there may be times when symptoms or challenges arise despite your best efforts. Practising self-compassion and flexibility can help manage this,” she adds.

How long will it take to see results?

Because everyone’s cycle is different, ultimately there is no one timeframe that it will take to notice results. “Giving ourselves permission to be more intuitive can be very freeing,” says Jodie. “Responding to hunger instead of trying to ignore it, prioritising rest when we need it, and not forcing ourselves to participate in a gruelling exercise regime when we’re not up to it can be incredibly liberating. It helps build a better relationship with food, exercise and our bodies.”

DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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