Cycle Syncing: How To Work With Your Body Rather Than Against It

Cycle Syncing: Work With Your Body Rather Than Against It

May 2023 | Written by Suni Crane

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What is cycle syncing? Through a quick Google search, we can find that cycle syncing is when one begins to sync their diet and exercise habits to match their menstrual cycle phase. Personally, I see this to be so much more than another internet diet fad.

Our cycles have not magically changed; we have just begun learning more about caring for ourselves during them. Each of the four phases has different symptoms that can be cared for with different meals and exercises. We once thought a strict diet and five days of vigorous exercise were the routes to our health and fitness goals, but as we deepen our understanding of cycle syncing, we will find that this is only sometimes the case.

When I first found out that menstrual cycles last about 28 days and consist of four phases, I felt a lot of emotions. Confusion was the strongest, as I was shocked to hear this crucial information for the first time in my twenties. During this instance, I realized I had learned more from Tiktok than I had in health class. I quickly dove into a rabbit hole, hoping to absorb as much information about my body as possible. I studied countless charts and articles, desperate to piece together the information I never knew was missing.

With that being said, let’s dive into the four phases of our menstrual cycle. Reminder: I am no doctor, so do your own research and remember every body is different!

Menstrual Phase:

Beginning with the menstrual phase, which lasts between day one and day five. This phase is when the uterine lining sheds, which means this is the week of our period. Estrogen and progesterone levels are low, resulting in low energy levels. Each phase can be thought of as an inner season, so think of the menstrual phase as your inner winter. Listen to your body’s needs, as this phase can be a doozy for many. For exercise during this phase, rest is so very crucial. I know it seems that rest is the opposite of what we need to do to hit fitness goals, but our bodies need time to recover, especially during our winter week! Moving my body brings me joy, so when my energy levels are high enough, I enjoy light movements such as at-home yoga, a recovery-focused pilates session, or a relaxing walk around my neighborhood with the pup. The point is, give yourself a break. As for nutrition, it is best to limit fatty and salty foods, alcohol, and caffeine. Soothing tea and vegetable soup is my go-to during my menstrual phase, as I try to intake warm foods throughout the week. I also like incorporating iron-rich foods during this phase, as menstruation leads to low iron levels. Red meat is a huge focus for me during menstruation, as well as legumes/beans in soup or made into hummus, spinach, and dark chocolate.

I am giving you my favorite soup recipe, which I swear by during this phase. I created this recipe to take as little effort as possible, so you can toss every ingredient into a large pot and leave it on the stove for however long you’d like. *recipe found at bottom of page*

Follicular Phase:

The follicular phase lasts between day six and day fourteen. Estrogen and progesterone are on the rise, and so are your energy levels. Think of the follicular phase as your inner spring; you are coming out of winter, ready for what’s ahead. For exercise during this phase, light cardio will be a great way to get back into a routine as your energy levels slowly rise. Testosterone levels are still pretty low, so at the beginning of this phase, we can sometimes experience low stamina. During this week, I enjoy two days of pilates and three days of 12-3-30 on the treadmill, followed by weight training. I find myself having to swap to a lower weight during this phase, as I tend to take a few days to regain my energy. As for nutrition during the follicular phase, it is best to incorporate foods that will metabolize estrogen. Some great options include broccoli sprouts, broccoli, kimchi, sauerkraut, cabbage, and cauliflower. During this phase, I try to include 1-2 of the vegetables listed above and a few different types of fermented foods. I typically roast broccoli or brussels sprouts for dinner and try to incorporate pickled onions into my recipes. Instead of a glass of wine at dinner, I opt for a glass of kombucha which helps increase my fermented food intake during this phase.

Ovulatory Phase:

The ovulatory phase lasts between day 15 and day 17, which is the time frame for ovulation. Estrogen levels are peaking during this phase while testosterone and progesterone levels rise. Think of your ovulatory phase as inner summer, as your energy levels are at an all-time high. As for exercise, energy levels will likely be very high during these days, which means this is the best time for one to participate in high-intensity exercises. Personally, I hate high-intensity exercise, so I will continue my routine of two days of pilates and three days of 12-3-30 on the treadmill, followed by weight training. Spin classes are also a great exercise to incorporate during this short phase. Your nutrition during the ovulatory phase should be filled with anti-inflammatory foods such as whole fruits, vegetables, and nuts. I tend to enjoy cold-pressing fruit/vegetable juice during these few days.

Luteal Phase:

Your luteal phase should last between day 18 and day 28, which means it is the fourth and final phase one experiences in their menstrual cycle. Estrogen and progesterone levels are high at the beginning of this phase and will decrease as you near the beginning of the menstrual phase. Your luteal phase can be seen as inner autumn, which makes this phase a great time for slowing down and preparing for winter. Our bodies use this time to prepare for menstruation, so our energy levels may be low. With low energy levels, light-to-moderate exercise will be best. I stay on my routine of two days of pilates and three days of 12-3-30 on the treadmill, followed by weight training during this phase. As the week progresses, my energy levels fall, so I find myself being able to lift less and less weight; I take this as a sign from my body to lower my weight. Yoga is also an excellent restorative exercise to do toward the end of your luteal phase. During this phase, my nutrition stays about the same as usual, with the addition of magnesium-rich foods such as spinach or dark chocolate. A few things to avoid during the luteal phase include alcohol, carbonated drinks, artificial sweeteners, red meat, dairy, and added salt.

Please remember to listen to your body during each phase and care for yourself how you truly deserve! If you’re tired, rest. If you’re hungry, nourish yourself. If you want to run 5 miles, do it. Just remember, every single person is different in their nutrition and exercise needs. Let’s not put unnecessary pressure on ourselves, especially when learning something new and incorporating new habits into our lives! Handle with care, always.

Soup Recipe:


  • 1 can of green beans
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of kidney beans
  • 3-4 carrots sliced into coins
  • 2-3 potatoes sliced into cubes
  • 1 shallot cut into slivers or diced
  • ½-1 whole bulb of garlic
  • 2-3 containers of bone broth (I prefer the Kettle & Fire turmeric ginger bone broth)
  • Turmeric seasoning
  • Ginger seasoning
  • Salt + Pepper
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • 3-5 Bay Leaves


  • Allow your pot to heat, then add olive/avocado oil
  • Add shallot and garlic into the pot to brown. This step is crucial as it brings out the mellow flavors of the shallot and garlic
  • Once the shallot and garlic have browned and softened, add all vegetables to the pot
  • Immediately follow the vegetables with the bone broth. Ensure the broth covers all vegetables by at least an inch
  • Add all seasoning and herbs to your liking
  • Let the soup come to a boil, then bring it down to a simmer
  • Let the soup simmer until all vegetables are soft; I like to check on it every 15-30 minutes
  • Once vegetables have softened, make yourself a bowl! I will let the soup simmer for around 2 hours before taking it off the heat to store.

*I have found this recipe makes enough for me to eat a bowl each day for about 4 days and have some left over to freeze.