Cycle Mapping: The Best Foods, Workouts And Supplements for Your Cycle

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Written By

Lauryn

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Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Cycle Mapping - Menstrual Pads, Blood Period Calendar And Clocks

Cycle Mapping: The Best Foods, Workouts & Supplements for Your Cycle

Cycle Mapping - Complete Menstrual Cycle

We are going to talk all about your period—BOTH cycle mapping (a few of my favorite eating, working out and habits that support your cycle), as well as HOW TO GET YOUR PERIOD BACK if it is missing. 

If I had $1 for every time a girl told me that she has hormone imbalances—or told me about her symptoms (which are actually hormone imbalances), my piggy bank would be full.

Hormones—much less our cycle—is something that no one teaches us in school. Like no one. 

But when you learn how your cycle mapping works—and how to WORK WITH YOUR BODY (not against it)—then you will learn the secret sauce to “balancing your hormones” that no one is really talking about. 

In fact, to just help you deal with your symptoms, many doctors will just pass out birth control or Midol and Tylenol like candy… online articles will tell you to just “eat healthy,” “avoid sugar and processed foods,” “get gentle exercise” and “sleep.”

But what if you’re doing all those things already and still experiencing PMS symptoms like cramps, pain, weight gain, skin breakouts and beyond?

CYCLE MAPPING to the rescue.

MY INSPIRATION

Cycle Mapping - Woman Drinking Water Or Protein Shake

The inspiration and deep insight on this topic was born from my own school of hard knocks experiences with some pretty gnarly irregular cycles after I got my period back in my 30’s (after never really having a period in my life, thanks to chronic illness galore). 

Some months were great…other months, I would literally wake up after ovulation, and gain 5-10 pounds. Overnight…feeling like an Oompa Loompa with bloating, water retention, constipation that lasted for 2 full weeks.

Oh the joys of womanhood!

And what I realized is…I had a guy’s cycle mapping all of my life — 365 days!

Enter: stress at work, daily intensity in workouts, eating the same things every day—and when that time of the month rolls around…The. Body. Was. Not. Happy.  Not balanced. 

Then I learned the power of CYCLE MAPPING…AND BOOM! GAME CHANGER!

CYCLE MAPPING is what it sounds like — “mapping” your lifestyle and stress inputs around your CYCLE…

The result? More balance. More peace. diminished PMS.

So let’s explore each phase of your period—what’s happening with your hormones around that time— and how to optimize that part…and again, if you are not cycling, stick with me, I will also share the 3 game changers that helped me get my period back. 

HORMONE SHIFTS

Cycle Mapping - Woman Lying On A Couch With Pain In Her Stomach

First, before we get into specifics, it’s important to know how your hormone flow goes all month long with this general pattern:

Day 1-14 (Follicular Phase)

This is the first day of your period through ovulation. During this time, estrogen levels rise as the body prepares for ovulation. 

About days 1-7 (could be less) your uterine lining is being shed (aka your period). Just prior to your period your estrogen and progesterone levels were at the lowest level in your cycle. By day 3 estrogen is rising again and testosterone isn’t far behind.

Ovulation

Ovulation happens roughly mid-cycle and is a day long event—think day 14—give or take. To trigger ovulation, estrogen levels peak. Estrogen levels in the blood become eight times higher at ovulation around Day 14, while progesterone levels increase by 80-fold approximately seven days later.

The day after ovulation is the onset of the luteal phase.

Prior to ovulation your estrogen and testosterone rise. Estrogen peaks to trigger ovulation. Energy, stamina, and mental endurance can all increase during this time thanks to these hormones.

Day 15-28 (Luteal Phase)

This is the phase after you’ve ovulated. Your body produces more estrogen to trigger ovulation, which then comes down, but doesn’t drop as you move into your luteal phase. 

During this phase progesterone levels rise and are at their highest. Once the body recognizes pregnancy hasn’t been achieved your estrogen and progesterone levels decline to trigger your period.

It’s important to note that this is just a general framework for the menstrual cycle mapping. Not every woman ovulates on day 14 and not every woman has a 28 day cycle. Be sure to adjust based on your unique cycle mapping. 

Depending on where you are in your cycle, you have different advantages and disadvantages at the gym and on the field.

Your hormonal fluctuations throughout the month can bolster your eating and workouts in many ways. Instead of getting frustrated by periodic shifts in ability, you can plan your workouts to give you an advantage. 

CYCLE MAPPING: WHAT TO EAT, HOW TO TRAIN & HOW TO BE MOST PRODUCTIVE

PHASE 1: MENSTRUATION (YOUR PERIOD) (Days 1-7)

Workouts 

Cycle Mapping - Female Rebounding Against Wall During Interval Training At Fitness Studio

While you’re on your period, you may find a gentle walk, stretching, and easy movement is best for reducing discomfort and matching your energy levels. It’s normal to have lower energy levels the first day of your period and to feel less active if you’re struggling with cramps. However tempting it may be to just hit the alarm and stay in bed, I would encourage you to get up and move. Exercise can help alleviate cramps, improve energy, balance your moods and give you an overall sense of wellbeing

For workouts—simply listen to your body. Less push. Less force. More love. No need to go run sprints at Barry’s bootcamp if you’re feeling crampy or low on energy. That said, keep your mojo up with gentle movements like yoga, pilates, walking and simple weight training.

Also, for recovery emphasize getting enough sleep and simply prioritizing YOU TIME during the Red Tide. It’s ok to even take a day off if needed. This time is about going in. 

Foods

And for food…During this time—bleeding—your body really is craving iron more than ever. This is the time to enjoy red meat, a grass-fed steak or burgers. It’s ok to eat red meat away from your cycle too. Just know that your body really appreciates it now. 

Mantras

“I am balanced and feel at peace inside.” 

PHASE 2: FOLLICULAR PHASE (Days 7-14)

Workouts

After your period, you go into the follicular phase—generally highlighted by feeling REALLY GOOD before Premenstrual syndrome begins. 

The increased estrogen and testosterone during this phase of your cycle can make it easier to build muscle. This is when cardio and strength training routines can feel their best. 

Yes, even while on your period your estrogen levels are rising. So you may find that come day 3 of your period that your energy is up and your exercise stamina begins to follow.

You have the most energy and least bloating, and PMS like symptoms here. 

The follicular phase is the best time to:

  • Tackle Barry’s Bootcamp
  • CrossFit
  • Go on a run
  • Push the heavy weights 
  • Hit a heavy bag and drip with sweat

YOU GET THE PICTURE. 

Foods

Cycle Mapping - Healthy Superfood, Detoxification With Fruits And Various Berries

Your appetite and metabolism are also most fiery now. Now is the time to enjoy fruits and whole food starches, away from bloating and irregular appetite cues. 

Seed cycling—eating seeds to help regulate higher estrogens—may also be a card you can pull here. Eat 1 tablespoon each of freshly ground flax and pumpkin seeds per day to balance out higher estrogens. 

Magnesium levels are also often lowest in the follicular phase so eating foods and supplementing with a quality magnesium. Some foods to include include: avocados, 100% dark chocolate, dark leafy greens and color rich blueberries. 

Lifestyle

On the lifestyle front, you may experience more positive feelings during this time. Your mood may lift and you may feel like you have more motivation and energy….so use this to your advantage. Be social, tackle a new project, take action.

Mantras

Lastly, for your mantra, take advantage of your feel good mojo to carry you through the month—“I love my body and my body loves me! I am full of energy, light and peace—and it carries me all month long.” 

PHASE 3: OVULATION  (Days 14-17)

Workouts

Ovulation is a one day event, but the days surrounding it can leave you feeling even more energized. Around the end of week two to the beginning of week three, which for most women is ovulation time, you may find that you can withstand higher levels of exertion than during other times of the month. 

So continue to build upon your FOLLICULAR PHASE ENERGY and workout types. 

Foods

On the diet front, eating foods high in fiber can help to reduce the levels of estrogen, which can be important to avoid estrogen dominance in the body – a common hormonal imbalance. I make sure to get a good serving of soluble fiber or resistant starch with dinner—like winter squash or cooked and cooled potatoes. 

Lifestyle

Cycle Mapping - Young Smiling Woman Sitting On Sofa And Looking Up While Drinking Hot Tea

As for mindset and lifestyle: Ovulation time is typically when you are feeling the most creative and reflective – birthing energy. This is the time to dream, lean into prayer and think about what you want to manifest. 

Mantras

“I am ____.” (Whatever you want to be or whoever you want to be, own it).

I am a successful CEO

I am fit, toned and feel confident on my own skin

I am magnetic AF

I am the prize, the dream girl.

PHASE 4: LUTEAL PHASE (Days 17-28)

Workouts

Some women will almost immediately notice shifts in their exercise tolerance and performance following ovulation. For others, the week before their period, may be when they experience a marked decline in exercise tolerance, along with having trouble thermoregulating. Our bodies can retain more water and have more difficulty cooling down in this phase, which can significantly hinder your workout. Staying hydrated with an attention to electrolytes prior to your activity can be helpful, as well as wearing breathable clothing and exercising in a cool environment.

Use that information to your advantage and take that time to incorporate more recovery time in your schedule. The best workouts during luteal include gentler movement things like: 

Cycle Mapping - Woman Runs In The Gym On A Treadmill
  • Low impact cardio—cycling/spinning but not overdoing it, flowing on the elliptical, just moving
  • Walking or hiking
  • Yoga
  • Swimming
  • Pilates
  • Strength training—without over exertion—think more maintenance

Foods

Your blood sugar is most sensitive during your LUTEAL PHASE. 

If you’re feeling more hungry prior to your period then know this is completely normal. On the flip side, some people lose their appetite altogether with increased bloating and constipation.

Regardless of where you fall- balance is the name of the game.

Make sure you’re getting enough protein at meals, and on days that you do feel hungrier, know it’s ok to fuel— listen to your body’s needs and eat in a way that you feel is best or focus on increasing your calories by 5-10%. Take the approach that serves you best while also being mindful that Hershey’s candy bars and Capn’ Crunch Cereal are not going to be the top foods to sustain your blood sugar either. Focus on real Whole Foods.

If you’re seed cycling now to manage progesterone, incorporate 1 tbsp of crushed or whole raw sunflower and sesame seeds.

Lifestyle

And on the mindset front, the luteal phase, the Power phase for checking off lists and getting things done that you started conceiving and dreaming about earlier on. You are most task oriented and feel the most pleasure at completing projects during this. Hone into this productive. 

Mantras

Lastly—your mantra around this time, may be reminding your body that it does and can feel good—even when your 3D reality or PMS symptoms may try to detour you off the path.

“I am light, fit, confident and love my flat abs!” Really helps me on the days that I am dragging with bloating, constipation and weight gain. We are the stories we tell ourselves, and my cells are reminded they don’t have to feel this way if I choose something different. 

I also tell myself, “All my needs, goals and desires are met instantaneously by infinite wisdom!” — I am getting things done—and ultimately letting the universe take care of all my needs. 

Doing cycle mapping with an app and incorporating different workouts and mindfulness with your nutrition into your routine helps you mitigate hormone imbalances during the month.

Bonus: My Top Period Balancing Supplements

My core staples for a healthy period include: 

  • Liver-Gallbladder Supports — support your liver all month long
    • Trizomal Glutathione*** (Apex Energetics)
    • LV-GB*** (Designs for Health)
    • B-Supreme Complex*** (Designs for Health)
    • Glycine Powder*** (Designs for Health)
    • Digestive Bitters
  • Magnesium
  • Probiotic
  • Prebiotic
  • Minerals 

Add in the following if needed for PMS symptoms: 

  • Adreno Distress Guard*** (Perque)
  • Calcium D-Glucarate*** (Designs for Health)
  • Liposomal Vitamin C*** (Numedica)
  • Endocrinpath*** (Energetix)

Note: Find all *** supplements without a link at a DISCOUNTED rate on my Fullscript store HERE. Simply search for them in the catalog and get a discount when you order them!

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