The luteal phase starts post-ovulation and ends when menstruation starts. This phase of the menstrual cycle is often characterized by several symptoms, such as mood fluctuations, cravings, higher basal body temperature, and a dip in energy levels, to name a few. However, there are strategies you can put in place to help mitigate many of these symptoms. In this article, we will focus specifically on how to increase energy levels during the Luteal phase.
The Menstrual Cycle Phases
The menstrual cycle is regulated by female reproductive hormones, and it involves a series of changes in the body aimed at preparing for potential pregnancy. There are two main phases in the menstrual cycle, the Follicular and the Luteal phase. Each phase can subsequently be divided in additional two phases.
- Early Follicular Phase - aka Menstrual Phase (Day 1-6): This is when menstruation occurs.
- Late Follicular Phase (Days 6-14): During this phase estrogen starts to rise, reaching its peak just before ovulation. The phase ends when ovulation occurs around day 14
- Mid-Luteal Phase (Days 15-20): This phase occurs post-ovulation and precedes the start of menstruation, during which the body prepares for a potential pregnancy or the onset of the next menstrual phase.
- Late Luteal Phase (Days 21-28): Estrogen and progesterone gradually decrease. This hormonal shift signals the body that no fertilization has occurred.
For more detailed information on the menstrual cycle, check out our in-depth article:
Overview of Energy Fluctuations Throughout the Menstrual Cycle
Energy levels can fluctuate significantly throughout the menstrual cycle due to the changes in estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels. Generally, energy levels tend to peak during the late follicular phase when estrogen is at its highest; then gradually decline as progesterone rises while estrogen drops off.
- Early Follicular (Menstrual Phase): Energy may be lower due to menstrual bleeding and cramping.
- Late Follicular Phase: Rising estrogen levels could lead to increased energy and mood. The surge in estrogen may cause a peak in energy levels around ovulation.
- Mid-Luteal Phase: A rise in progesterone and a drop in estrogen might lead to decreased energy and mood swings.
- Late Luteal Phase: A drop in progesterone and estrogen can lead to increased fatigue, brain fog, and cravings.
How does the Luteal Phase impact Energy Levels?
During the luteal phase, a drop in estrogen levels and a rise in progesterone can lead to feelings of tiredness and sluggishness, especially during the late luteal phase. This phase may also bring on additional premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms such as hunger, and cravings, which can further drain energy. There's also a noted increase in resting heart rate and basal body temperature.
Effective energy management during this phase can help mitigate these symptoms. Moreover, appropriate nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle modifications during the luteal phase can contribute to overall menstrual cycle wellness, supporting a smoother transition into the subsequent menstrual phase.
Nutritional Strategies to Boost Energy During the Luteal Phase
Caloric Intake: During the luteal phase, the metabolism speeds up requiring more daily calories to maintain stable blood sugar levels, which in turn helps to balance insulin—a critical hormone affecting the degree of PMS experienced.
Supplementation: Recommends a blend to balance blood sugar and supports taking a high-quality chromium-cinnamon supplement during the luteal phase to manage blood sugar levels.
Essential Nutrients for The Luteal Phase:
Complex Carbohydrates: helps to boost neurochemicals like serotonin and dopamine, keeping mood stable and sugar cravings at bay.
- Sources: Whole grains, legumes, starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes.
- Benefits: Provide sustained energy, and stabilize blood sugar levels.
Healthy Fats: Supports hormone production and provides a steady source of energy, aiding in the management of potential fatigue and mood fluctuations.
- Sources: Avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil.
- Benefits: Support hormone production, and provide steady energy.
Lean Proteins: Aids in muscle repair, supports steady energy levels by providing a sustained source of amino acids, and promotes satiety which can help manage hunger and cravings often experienced during this phase.
- Sources: Poultry, fish, eggs, legumes.
- Benefits: Aid in muscle repair, and provide steady energy.
Iron: Counteract potential iron loss during menstruation, support oxygen transportation in the blood, and mitigate fatigue.
- Sources: Lean meats, leafy green vegetables, fortified cereals.
- Benefits: Prevents fatigue, and supports oxygen transportation in the blood.
Magnesium: Alleviate common symptoms such as water retention and PMS, while also promoting energy production and muscle relaxation.
- Sources: Nuts, seeds, leafy greens, legumes.
- Benefits: Supports energy production, and helps with muscle relaxation.
B Vitamins: Supports hormonal balance, aids in energy production, and helps in managing mood swings and other premenstrual symptoms.
- Sources: Whole grains, lean meats, eggs, legumes.
- Benefits: Aid in energy production, and support brain function.
Meal Timing and Macronutrient Distribution During the Luteal Phase:
- Eat frequent, balanced meals to help maintain steady energy levels throughout the day.
- Incorporate a balance of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) in each meal.
- Adjusting carbohydrate intake to match energy needs, especially in the luteal phase where energy may dip.
- Consider a higher protein intake during this phase to support muscle health and satiety.
- Staying hydrated to prevent fatigue and support overall energy levels.
Implementing these nutritional strategies can help improve energy levels during the luteal phase.
Exercise to Support Energy Levels During the Luteal Phase:
During the luteal phase, particularly in its early days, a mix of steady-state aerobic workouts and moderate training is recommended as estrogen and progesterone levels rise. Post-ovulation, the body relies more on blood glucose and fatty acids for energy, necessitating an increase in daily carbohydrate intake and ensuring adequate protein consumption with 30 grams per meal and post-exercise to prevent a breakdown state.
Stress Management Techniques for the Luteal Phase:
- Mindfulness and Meditation: Engaging in mindfulness practices can help manage stress.
- Breathing Exercises: Techniques like deep breathing can be beneficial.
- Yoga and Relaxation Techniques: Yoga can promote relaxation and alleviate stress.
Sleep Quality Enhancement for the Luteal Phase:
Sleep disturbances are common during the luteal phase due to hormonal fluctuations, which may lead to decreased melatonin secretion and impact sleep quality. Poorer sleep quality is common in the premenstrual phase and may be associated with a steep rise in progesterone levels from the follicular phase through the mid-luteal phase, leading to greater wakefulness after sleep onset and sleep fragmentation.
- Maintaining Consistent Sleep Schedules: Consistency in sleep timing can help regulate the body's natural sleep-wake cycle.
- Creating a Restful Environment: A quiet, dark, and cool environment can promote better sleep.
- Avoiding Stimulants Before Bedtime: Avoiding caffeine and other stimulants can help improve sleep quality.
Tailoring Your Routine to Your Menstrual Cycle:
- Cycle Syncing: Align daily activities, exercise, and nutrition with the different phases of the menstrual cycle to foster better energy management, as advised by Alisa Vitti.
- Activity Scheduling: Schedule more demanding tasks during the phases where energy levels are typically higher and lighter activities during the luteal phase.
- Nutritional Alignment: Tailor nutrition to support energy levels during the luteal phase by including complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean proteins in the diet.
Identifying Personal Energy Patterns in Your Luteal Phase
- Energy Tracking: Keep a daily energy journal to track energy levels and identify personal patterns over several cycles.
- Hormonal Testing: Consider hormonal testing to understand personal hormonal fluctuations and how they correlate with energy levels.
- Feedback Analysis: Reflect on how different activities, nutritional choices, and stress levels affect energy during the luteal phase to make informed adjustments.
Engaging in Supportive Practices for the Luteal Phase
- Mindfulness Practices: Engage in mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation techniques to manage stress and promote relaxation.
- Hydration and Nutrition: Ensure adequate hydration and nourishment to support energy levels.
- Sleep Hygiene: Maintain good sleep hygiene practices to promote restorative sleep.
These tips and tricks can provide a roadmap for individuals looking to manage their energy levels more effectively during the luteal phase. By understanding personal energy patterns and engaging in supportive practices, individuals can tailor their routines to better align with their menstrual cycle, promoting overall menstrual wellness.
- Baker FC, Lee KA. Menstrual Cycle Effects on Sleep. Sleep Med Clin. 2018 Sep;13(3):283-294. doi: 10.1016/j.jsmc.2018.04.002. PMID: 30098748.
- Nowakowski S, Meers J, Heimbach E. Sleep and Women's Health. Sleep Med Res. 2013;4(1):1-22. doi: 10.17241/smr.2013.4.1.1. PMID: 25688329; PMCID: PMC4327930.
- Jehan S, Auguste E, Hussain M, Pandi-Perumal SR, Brzezinski A, Gupta R, Attarian H, Jean-Louis G, McFarlane SI. Sleep and Premenstrual Syndrome. J Sleep Med Disord. 2016;3(5):1061. Epub 2016 Aug 3. PMID: 28239684; PMCID: PMC5323065.
- Sleep quality and the menstrual cycle, Sarah E. Romans, David Kreindler, Gillian Einstein, Sheila Laredo, Michele J. Petrovic, James Stanley, Volume 16, Issue 4, April 2015, Pages 489-495
- Nail a PR at Every Phase of Your Menstrual Cycle, Dr. Stacy Sims
- Nutrition and Exercise Throughout Your Menstrual Cycle, Cleveland Clinic
- Hackney AC. Menstrual Cycle Hormonal Changes and Energy Substrate Metabolism in Exercising Women: A Perspective. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Sep 24;18(19):10024. doi: 10.3390/ijerph181910024. PMID: 34639326; PMCID: PMC8508274.
- In the flo, by Alissa Vitty