Menstrual Cycle what is it?
· Originates from the Latin word “Month”
· Is normally a 28-day cycle
· Starts from Puberty up until the menopause
· Essential for Pregnancy
· Hormonal Changes to mature; Fertilize and implant egg into the uterine wall.
Part 1 of the cycle is called the Follicular Phase (Day 1-14)
The first two weeks of a menstrual cycle fundamentally concentrates on the development of the follicle and ovulation (releasing of the egg around day 14). Within the beginning part of this phase Oestrogen and progesterone both start low, with an increase in Oestrogen going into the late follicular phase and with Progesterone slowing increasing into the luteal phase. This is because Oestrogen within this phase is the dominate sex hormone.
Most women within the first 2 weeks experience an increase level of confidence, self-assurance and mental clarity due the increase in Oestrogen. As Oestrogen is the most dominate hormone in the first two weeks woman may become more aware of the following changes:
Oestrogens role as a hormone decreases appetite, from this increases the body’s ability to utilise carbohydrates due to the increase of insulin which then may help in the reduction of Delayed On Set of Muscle Soreness (DOMS).
1. The Follicular Phase is probably best to perform strength training as you will most likely be at your strongest, as there will be an increase in testosterone before ovulation (Day 14) which will have a positive Influence on strength gains.
2. This is potentially the more favoured time to start as diet as adherence will be greater due the effects of oestrogen which has similar properties leptin as this also influence on appetite.
3. Iron rich foods would be beneficial due to a potential decrease, which could affect energy levels. These can be separated into heme and non heme sources (chicken, beef, seafood and spinach, lentils, beans).
Part 2 of the cycle is called the Luteal Phase (Day 14-28)
When transitioning into the second phase many women do not experience significant changes, however they should consider the state of how they feel as many women will become more withdrawn and have a decreased intensity to training which they may benefit a less intense approach to training and exercise. Progesterone is now the dominate sex hormone due to the reduction of Oestrogen.
Within this Luteal phase women can experience changes to the following
1. May experience a reduction in strength
2. Reduction in coordination and balance
3. Increased hunger due to a rise in body temperature which can increase Base metabolic Rate (BMR) 2-300 calories per day).
4. More insulin resistance so potentially a window in which you may consider swapping some of your carbohydrates for more healthy fats and protein.
5. Water retention may be evident here leading into Day 1 of your menstrual cycle.
1. Adaption to training should be considered to include a less intense training program to enhance recovery time
2. Many women will struggle to adhere to a diet with reduced calories during this phase, so an increase of calories to around 200-300 should be considered which normal will see them sitting back at their maintenance calories, which will be more sustainable.
3. To help you and your coach gain a better understanding of what phase of the menstrual you are in, it is considered to track your cycle. This is ideal for coach to client relationship as communication will enhance the planning and structing of nutrition and training.
4. Tracking your weight may be considered during your cycle to help identify any common grounds throughout each phase. You could then compare this to Week 1 Month 1 etc so that there is consistency in seeing changes long term as opposed to each week where you are a different physiology.