Periods: Understanding when to diet and when you’ll perform your best

tampons

Article by: Sila Kurtoglu

Just before we ovulate mid cycle (the yellow curve), we see a spike in testosterone- this tends to be the time we perform our best in the gym. After this, the luteal phase (the red curve), can be the hardest time to work out, and most especially, to diet! This isn’t a good time to be in a Deficit. If your goal is weight loss, I recommend a Deficit diet during the first 2 weeks of your cycle, and MAINTENANCE during the 2nd 2 weeks.

A regular menstrual cycle*

Ladies do not diet or beat yourself up
in the gym during this time.

Just before we ovulate mid cycle (the yellow curve), we see a spike in testosterone – this tends to be the time we perform our best in the gym. After this, the luteal phase (the red curve), can be the hardest time to work out, and most especially, to diet! This isn’t a good time to be in a Deficit. If your goal is weight loss, I recommend a Deficit diet during the first 2 weeks of your cycle, and MAINTENANCE during the 2nd two weeks.

Top tip: Don’t start a diet during ovulation, it’ll be demotivating. Start strong during the beginning of your cycle.

This is why you shouldn’t compare yourself to your friends in the gym (who may be at a different phase of their cycle), or your male buddies who have an entirely different physiology.

You do YOU! And listen to YOUR body. Don’t beat yourself up that you can only diet 2 weeks of the month. Having this understanding will be a powerful tool for you, your training, your dieting and your wellbeing!

As for other Personal Trainers, no two menstrual cycles are the same, no two physiologies are the same, so guess what, training programs and food plans you give your clients shouldn’t be the same!

Whilst we’re on the subject, it’s important to recognise there are fundamental differences in a man and woman’s physiology…

Female and Male Icons

MEN are typically bigger and have more muscle mass, meaning they burn more calories than woman in a space of time. These considerations must be MADE whilst producing training programs or food plans for clients (you’ll be surprised the amount of clients I’ve had whose previous trainer just give the same plan to everyone!).

WOMEN need to carry more fat than men. For example, we produce babies, BABIES, there must be more reserve and energy for women to survive pregnancy. This is massively overlooked in the fitness industry; women are too hard on themselves when they set their goals – “lean, legs, and six pack” – there are not many women who can accomplish that without losing their menstrual cycle. (Again, physiology catching up with societal expectations of how women “should look” from fitness).

*Of course this doesn’t consider PCOS or irregular cycles, we can’t just blanket prescribe people. I’m a Personal Trainer who wants everyone to be more AWARE of female physiology.

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