Seen all over TikTok, Cycle Syncing is the most recent trend many have tried to achieve better control over their cycles.
For those of us who menstruate, it’s easy to fall into complacency with your cycle. It becomes easy to justify harsh symptoms or hormonal fluctuations, impacting every bit of everyday functioning. In recent years, however, many have harnessed power over their bodies through cycle syncing, harmonizing their diet and exercise routine with the phases of their cycle. We break down the different parts of your period cycle, what you can do to make that time of the month better for your body, and how effective cycle syncing might be.
There are four phases in one period cycle: menstruation, follicular, ovulation, and luteal phase. The first phase is the follicular phase, when the brain signals for the ovaries to begin preparing the egg, leading to the thickening of the uterine lining. This phase initiates your cycle and lasts until day 13 or 14, when ovulation begins. During this phase, focus on protein and fiber-rich foods like chickpeas, chicken, nuts, and dark leafy greens. It’s also a great time to attack high-intensity workouts like cardio and heavy weights, as the body has more energy.
Next up, ovulation! Ovulation happens when the egg is released from the ovary and travels to the uterus. It usually occurs about two weeks before menstruation and can last from half a day to one and a half days. Ovulation is when the body is most fertile, meaning this day and the three days before it is when you are most likely to get pregnant. Foods like citrus fruits, vegetables, dark chocolate, and almonds reduce inflammation, improving overall mood and well-being. Power yoga, weight training, and HIIT workouts will help you feel boosted during this phase.
The subsequent phase is the luteal phase. The cells in the ovary tell the uterus lining to thicken in preparation for the egg. The luteal phase lasts for 12 to 14 days. The last week is commonly known as PMS – premenstrual syndrome. After ovulation, progesterone is elevated and can increase bloating and constipation. Foods such as chicken, pumpkin seeds, sweet potato, apples, dark chocolate, and legumes are recommended during the luteal phase as they are rich in magnesium, fiber, and vitamin B6. The body is preparing for menstruation, so it’s a great time to switch to low-intensity workouts like pilates, power walking, yoga, or swimming.
When the uterine lining sheds, it’s time for the final stage. The menstruation phase is the most commonly known phase of the period cycle. It is where the body sheds the uterine lining out of the vagina, known as the period. On average, this phase lasts for three to seven days but varies. Since the body feels tired during this phase, it’s an excellent time to reduce cardio. Try going for a walk, doing yoga, or light-paced jog. Bring on the ginger, chickpeas, salmon, spinach, and potatoes during this phase, as vitamin B6 has properties that minimize PMS symptoms.
Cycle syncing speaks for those looking at their health holistically and actively practicing listening to their bodies. It means that depending on where you are in your cycle, you should only do workouts that fit how your body feels. The process requires effort, thought, and trial. The practice has exploded online due to its numerous benefits, providing access to a more balanced lifestyle. It’s also gained traction in the professional athlete regimen, with brands like Nike, Whoop, and Apple capitalizing on that momentum, allowing users to use their watches to sync their periods to their workouts.
In the best circumstances, this routine encourages listening to the body more acutely and attending to its needs. However, the issue is that period tracking is notoriously tricky, and figuring out which phase the body is in is often difficult. Cycle lengths vary from person to person, even as far as fluctuating up to 14 days from textbook example. There is debate on how beneficial it is and how easily it can be incorporated into daily life, as many need help finding ways to exercise and access the gym.
Cycle syncing may be too good to be true. However, the process encourages one to pay more profound attention to one's body and how one treats it. Do you have more questions about cycle syncing or periods in general? Boynton Health Gynecology is here to answer any inquiries you have—call (612) 625-8400 to schedule an appointment today.
Written by: Tanvi Abraham
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