When you are eating in alignment with your hormones, you will have better sleep, your focus is going to be better, and your brain fog will subside. When you are eating a more balanced diet, you can overcome a lot of hormonal derangement which is what a lot of women are suffering from. Many women explore fasting as an option to support their health.
The benefits of fasting include reduced inflammation, stimulated cellular autophagy, enhanced fat burning, improved insulin, and improved energy levels. However, calorie restriction from fasting can have some downsides to it, including potential hormonal imbalance, which is particularly important for women with a menstrual cycle. This makes feasting absolutely critical.
Feasting allows you to nourish your body with nutrient-dense foods. It helps to create hormonal optimization, regulate cell growth, improve cleansing pathways, reduce inflammation, improve your immune system, boost lean body tissue development, and enhance mental health and emotional well-being
To protect your hormonal and reproductive health and optimize your menstrual cycle while benefiting from feast-famine cycling, it is critical that you pay attention to when you are fasting and when you are feasting. You not only have to make sure to refuel properly during the eating window of your intermittent fast but pay attention to what days you are fasting and what days you are not fasting at all.
Most women have something called leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone that makes you feel full. When you are consuming a high-fat diet which is very satiating because fat has a higher caloric count than protein and carbohydrates, you can overcome that hormonal problem of always feeling hungry. Another benefit is that you can go hours without eating or needing to snack because you are able to tap into your own fat source for energy.
The first two weeks of your menstrual cycle are called the follicular phase. Menstruation lasts from days 1-5 of this phase. Estrogen levels tend to be more dominant in these two weeks but especially at the end of the follicular phase as the body prepares for ovulation. Days 1-10 are great days for fasting, keto and lower carbohydrate diets, this is a much more hormonally resilient time. During days 1-7 gives there is a subsequent rise in testosterone which supports a body mass, great for fat burning and resistance training, we feel the biggest pick-me-up in libido and confidence. Right after ovulation, which varies around Day 14 but can vary a few days, the body becomes less insulin-sensitive and It is therefore important to reduce carbohydrate intake during this phase when insulin sensitivity is at its lowest. Consider intermittent fasting and following a lower carbohydrate nutrition plan during this time.
The third and fourth weeks of the menstrual cycle are called the luteal phase which occurs after ovulation. During this phase, progesterone levels are at their highest. In week three it’s common for your confidence to take a knock, you’ll retreat inward, your sex drive decreases, metabolism changes Progesterone is a potent appetite stimulant, slows down your bowel movement, and can affect your mood as well. It’s a great time to add green juicing to your day.
Week 4 is the final week of the luteal phase, the body needs to build hormones again to prepare for menstruation and this is a great time to bring in healthy carbohydrates with a wide variety of vegetables and grains to support your hormones.
When To Fast
Female bodies can be extremely sensitive to calorie restriction and restrictive diets. Low-calorie intake from fasting or restricting certain nutrients can impact the hypothalamus and disrupt gonadotropin-releasing hormone release, which is responsible for the release of the follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone that are critical for your menstrual cycle, hormonal function, and reproductive health.
If these hormones are not functioning properly, it may result in irregular periods, amenorrhea, infertility, ovary reduction, and poor bone health. To protect your hormonal and reproductive health and optimize your menstrual cycle while benefiting from feast-famine cycling, it is critical that you pay attention to when you are fasting and when you are feasting. It is advised to make sure to refuel properly during the eating window of your intermittent fast but pay attention to what days you are fasting and what days you are not fasting at all.
If you practice intermittent or extended fasting, Day 1 to 10 and Day 17 to 21 is the time to do that if you have a ~28-day cycle. This is the time when your hormones are at their lowest and it is a great time to reduce insulin, reduce inflammation and activate autophagy.
As it relates to fasting, your bleed week is the best week of your cycle for more aggressive fasting and carb restriction. Because your appetite will generally lower this week you’ll be able to fast longer without working against your biology here.
Consider a non-caloric liquid fast, meaning consuming only water or black coffee in the morning and herbal teas throughout the day or include more green juicing at this time.
When To Feast
It is very important that you are eating nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods throughout your menstrual cycle.
focusing on feasting and nourishing your body throughout the day is particularly important during specific times of the month. The best time to feast includes Day 12 to 16 during ovulation and Day 22 to 28, a week before menstruation on a 28-day cycle.
The goal of this feasting period is to bring in building blocks and boost insulin, estrogen, and progesterone levels. During this phase increase your net carbohydrates s, however, it is important that you eat healthy carbohydrates. Sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, beets, fruits, wild rice, quinoa, and raw honey are excellent choices.
It is also important to keep focusing on healthy proteins such as plenty of grass-fed, organic meat products, pasture-raised beef, free-range poultry and eggs, and wild-caught fish. and healthy fats, including avocado, coconut oil, grass-fed butter or ghee.
B Complex Vitamins
B vitamins play an essential role in your menstrual cycle. B12 helps to protect your nervous system and metabolism and boosts your energy levels. It also plays an important role in the nourishment of red blood cells, which is important as you lose blood during menstruation. Some great sources of B vitamins include sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, almonds, broccoli, spinach, tuna, eggs, and trout.
Researchers have found that lower vitamin D levels are associated with an increased likelihood of having an irregular cycle. A study of nearly one thousand adolescent girls found an improvement in menstrual symptoms when study participants were given high-dose vitamin D supplements for 9 weeks. Before the intervention, of participants, were vitamin D deficient. Supporting vitamin D levels caused the prevalence of PMS combined with dysmenorrhea to decrease from 32.7% to 25.7%, and the prevalence of PMS decreased from 14.9% to 4.8%. Curcumin is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and can influence vitamin D receptor activity.
Unhealthy gut flora can disrupt your hormonal levels and interrupt your menstrual cycle. It can also increase your chance of infections and symptoms related to PMS and menstruation, such as bloating, cramps, weight gain, fatigue, and headaches. Probiotics can help to keep a healthy vaginal flora, support hormonal health, optimize the menstrual cycle, and reduce PMS symptoms. Probiotic-rich foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, and yogurt.
Zinc is critical for a healthy immune system, but it also plays a role in estrogen and progesterone production and hormonal health. It also offers anti-inflammatory benefits. Zinc can reduce PMS symptoms, menstrual cramps, and pain, and lower the risk of dysmenorrhea and other menstrual cycle dysfunction. Foods that are rich in zinc include pumpkin seeds, cashews, oysters, shellfish, and beef.
Magnesium is a fantastic vitamin for women to support their menstrual cycle. It has relaxing benefits so it may help to lower mood swings and fatigue and increase energy. It can also help to relax your stomach muscles and elevate cramping and discomfort. It also supports red blood cells and female hormonal health.
Pumpkin seeds, spinach, chickpeas, salmon, and kale are some great food sources of magnesium. For optimal menstrual cycle support, take a good Epsom salt bath a few times a week
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, walnuts, hemp seeds, soybeans, dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and chard, and oily fish such as salmon and mackerel. Increasing omega-3s in your diet is particularly important to help keep inflammatory prostaglandins in check. This is because a typical Western diet tends to contain higher levels of omega-6 fatty acids (meat, poultry, dairy, eggs, safflower & sunflower oil) which promote the more pro-inflammatory prostaglandins associated with menstrual pain and cramping. Omega-3s help to promote the production of the more anti-inflammatory type instead, hence why it is so important to increase your intake.