Comprehensive Guide: Nutrition, Supplements, and Training for Women During Their Menstrual Cycle

Navigating fitness and nutrition during your menstrual cycle can be challenging, but understanding how your body changes throughout the month can help you optimize your workouts and diet.

This guide provides detailed insights into the best nutrition, supplements, and training strategies for women during their menstrual cycle.

By tailoring your approach to each phase of your cycle, you can enhance performance, manage symptoms, and maintain overall health.

Understanding the Menstrual Cycle Phases

1. Menstrual Phase (Days 1-5)


This phase begins with the first day of menstrual bleeding. Both estrogen and progesterone levels are low because the previous cycle’s egg was not fertilized, causing the lining of the uterus (endometrium) to shed.

Many women experience cramps, fatigue, and mood swings during their menstrual phase while the drop in hormone levels can lead to feelings of low energy and a lower pain threshold.

During the menstrual phase, women tend to experience common symptoms like menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea), bloating, headaches, and breast tenderness.

Some women may also experience back pain and gastrointestinal disturbances. The low hormone levels associated with the menstrual phase can also result in decreased energy and mood with women feeling more tired and less motivated.

Light exercises, such as; yoga, stretching, and walking are beneficial in the menstrual phase as these exercises can improve circulation, reduce cramps, and elevate mood without putting too much strain on the body.

In terms of nutritional needs, you should focus on iron-rich foods (e.g. leafy greens, red meat, beans) to replenish lost iron during the menstrual phase.

Anti-inflammatory foods (e.g. berries, fatty fish, nuts) can also help reduce discomfort while staying hydrated is crucial to avoid bloating.

2. Follicular Phase (Days 6-14)


In the follicular phase, estrogen levels begin to rise as the pituitary gland secretes follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which stimulates the growth of ovarian follicles.

Each follicle contains an egg, and one will become dominant and mature. Increasing estrogen levels lead to improved mood, higher energy levels, and enhanced cognitive function. This phase ends with ovulation.

Women generally feel better physically during this phase. Energy levels are higher, and the body feels more resilient and capable. It is worth noting that estrogen boosts serotonin levels, leading to improved mood, increased energy, and a more positive outlook.

Women often feel more sociable and confident when they are in the follicular phase. However, this is the best time for high-intensity workouts, including strength training, HIIT, and cardio.

This is because the body is primed for building muscle and endurance at this time. But to keep up with the energy demands of high-intensity workouts, women will need to meet the nutrition demands necessary for optimal performance.

During the follicular phase women should consume more complex carbohydrates (e.g. whole grains, oats) as they provide sustained energy. Lean proteins (e.g. chicken, fish, tofu) help to support muscle repair, and healthy fats (e.g. avocados, nuts) are equally important, as they promote hormone production.



3. Ovulation Phase (Days 15-17)


A surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) triggers the release of a mature egg from the dominant follicle, which is known as ovulation. Estrogen levels peak just before ovulation and then start to decline, while progesterone begins to rise.

During the ovulation phase, women often experience peak energy, strength, and libido. However, some women may feel slight pelvic discomfort known as mittelschmerz (ovulation pain) while increased cervical mucus, which becomes clear and stretchy, is a sign of fertility.

This phase is characterized by high energy, motivation, and overall well-being. Libido typically increases due to the peak in estrogen and testosterone.

Utilize this phase for high-intensity and strength-focused workouts. Activities such as heavy lifting, sprinting, and competitive sports can maximize performance during this high-energy period.

For nutrition, women should focus on antioxidant-rich foods (e.g. berries, dark chocolate) to combat oxidative stress from intense workouts. Protein intake remains crucial for muscle repair, and staying well-hydrated supports overall performance.

4. Luteal Phase (Days 18-28)


After ovulation, the empty follicle transforms into the corpus luteum, which secretes progesterone. This hormone prepares the uterine lining for a potential pregnancy. If fertilization does not occur, progesterone and estrogen levels fall, leading to the onset of menstruation.

Many women experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms, such as; bloating, mood swings, and fatigue due to the hormonal fluctuations. Symptoms of PMS can also include breast tenderness, headaches, irritability, and food cravings. Some women also experience fatigue and changes in sleep patterns during the luteal phase.

Energy levels may begin to wane as the phase progresses, and mood swings can occur due to fluctuating hormone levels. Anxiety and irritability are common during this time. While in the luteal phase, it is important for women to focus on moderate-intensity workouts, such as; steady-state cardio, moderate strength training, and activities like Pilates or yoga that help manage stress.
Gentle exercises can also alleviate PMS symptoms.

For nutrition, women should stick with magnesium-rich foods (e.g. leafy greens, nuts) to reduce cramps and support mood. Consuming complex carbohydrates and fiber (e.g. whole grains, legumes) can help manage cravings and stabilize blood sugar levels. Hydration is also important to counteract bloating and water retention.

Understanding the distinct phases of the menstrual cycle allows women to tailor their nutrition, supplementation, and training routines to their body’s changing needs.

By aligning lifestyle choices with hormonal fluctuations, women can enhance their physical performance, manage symptoms, and maintain overall well-being.

Embracing the natural rhythm of the menstrual cycle can lead to a healthier, more balanced approach to fitness and health.

Summary of Nutrition During Each Menstrual Cycle Phase

#1. Menstrual Phase (Days 1-5)

Your primary focus should be replenishment and soothing discomfort.


– Iron-rich foods: Spinach, lean meats, beans.

– Anti-inflammatory foods: Berries, fatty fish, nuts.

– Hydration: Herbal teas and water to reduce bloating.

– Meals: Think hearty salads with leafy greens and grilled chicken or salmon, and smoothies with berries and chia seeds.

#2. Follicular Phase (Days 6-14)

Your main focus during this phase should be building energy and muscle repair.


  • Complex carbs: Quinoa, brown rice, oats.
  • Lean proteins: Chicken, turkey, tofu.
  • Healthy fats: Avocado, olive oil, nuts.
  • Meals: Oatmeal with fruit and nuts for breakfast, and quinoa salad with mixed vegetables and grilled tofu for lunch.


#3. Ovulation Phase (Days 15-17)

Focus on high energy and peak performance during the ovulation phase.


  • Antioxidant-rich foods: Dark chocolate, citrus fruits, tomatoes.
  • Protein: Eggs, Greek yogurt, fish.
  • Hydration: Maintain high fluid intake.
  • Meals: Greek yogurt with berries for a snack, and grilled fish with a side of roasted vegetables for dinner.

#4. Luteal Phase (Days 18-28)

Concentrate on managing cravings and mood swings.


  • Magnesium-rich foods: Dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, bananas.
  • Fiber: Whole grains, legumes, apples.
  • Complex carbs and healthy fats: Sweet potatoes, nuts, seeds.

-Meals: Sweet potato and black bean chili, and snacks like apple slices with almond butter.

Supplements for Each Menstrual Cycle Phase

General Recommendations

  • Multivitamin: To cover any nutritional gaps.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: For anti-inflammatory effects.

#1. Menstrual Phase:

  • Iron: To replenish lost iron.
  • Magnesium: To reduce cramps and improve mood.

#2. Follicular Phase:

  • Vitamin B6: For energy production.
  • Protein supplements: If dietary intake is insufficient.

#3. Ovulation Phase:

  • Antioxidants: Vitamin C and E to combat oxidative stress.
  • BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids): To support muscle recovery.

#4. Luteal Phase:

  • Magnesium: To alleviate PMS symptoms.
  • Calcium: For overall bone health and to reduce menstrual cramps.

Summary of Training During Each Menstrual Cycle Phase

#1. Menstrual Phase (Days 1-5)

  • Focus: Gentle exercises.
  • Activities: Yoga, light stretching, walking.
  • Intensity: Low to moderate.

#2. Follicular Phase (Days 6-14)

  • Focus: Building strength and endurance.
  • Activities: Strength training, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), running.
  • Intensity: High.

#3. Ovulation Phase (Days 15-17)

  • Focus: Maximal strength and power.
  • Activities: Heavy lifting, sprinting, intense cardio.
  • Intensity: Very high.

#4. Luteal Phase (Days 18-28)

  • Focus: Moderate intensity and recovery.
  • Activities: Moderate strength training, steady-state cardio, Pilates.
  • Intensity: Moderate.


Understanding and synchronizing your nutrition, supplementation, and training with your menstrual cycle can greatly enhance your fitness journey.

By listening to your body and adjusting your approach according to each phase, you can optimize performance, manage symptoms, and maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Remember, everyone’s body is unique, so it’s important to find what works best for you and consult with a healthcare professional if needed. Embrace the power of your cycle and let it guide you to better health and fitness.

For more information, you can reach out to a coach for free at Anabolic Coach today.

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