This is the third blog post in a 4-part series on micronutrient and botanical support for the four phases of the infradian rhythm.
At Flo Living, our goal is to help women balance their hormones and resolve period problems with food, supplements, and lifestyle changes. We take a functional nutrition and systems medicine approach to achieving optimal hormone health.
The first step for any woman* in balancing her hormones is learning about the 28-day hormone cycle, which is governed by a special biological rhythm called the infradian rhythm. The infradian rhythm plays a vital role in female health and wellness. Knowing what your body needs during each phase of your cycle is key not only to hormonal healing but to your health overall.
To learn more about the infradian rhythm, you can see the first and second posts in this series, or check out the in-depth post I wrote on the infradian rhythm here. For a deep dive, grab a copy of my new book In The Flo, which is all about the unique rhythms of our 28-day hormone cycle and the specific supports we can offer our bodies during each phase.
This is the third blog post in our four-part series on micronutrient and botanical support to help better support the infradian rhythm. In this post, we will explore supplement needs during the luteal phase of the 28-day hormone cycle.
The 4-Phases of the Infradian Rhythm
The infradian rhythm tracks with the menstrual cycle and has four distinct phases. They are:
For women in their reproductive years, the key to optimal health is to eat, move, and supplement in ways that support each phase of the infradian rhythm. Our bodies require different types of self care during each phase.
The luteal phase is the 10 to 14 days after ovulation and before your period.
You can learn more about micronutrient needs in the first phase (follicular) of your cycle here and in the second phase (ovulatory) here. In today’s post, we’re going to do a deep dive on micronutrient support for the luteal phase.
Meet the Luteal Phase
When: The 10 to 14 days after ovulation and before your bleed.
What’s happening in your body:
- Estrogen levels continue to rise and the uterine lining continues to thicken
- Progesterone levels start to rise
- Toward the end of the luteal phase, estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone peak and then begin to drop, hitting their lowest levels just before your period.
- PMS during this phase is caused by too much estrogen in the body relative to progesterone, or estrogen dominance
- Metabolism speeds up
What’s happening in your brain:
Hormone levels during this phase prime your brain to be good at focusing on details and wrapping up projects. Toward the end of this phase, as your hormone levels plummet, you will have less energy and feel more inclined to focus inward rather than on socializing.
Food, Exercise, and Lifestyle Strategies for the Ovulatory Phase
To achieve optimal hormone health and to ease period problems like PMS, cramps, bloating, acne, heavy or irregular periods and missing periods, it requires a multipronged approach that includes food, movement, and lifestyle strategies implemented in a cyclical way. I encourage women to eat in a cyclical pattern, exercise in line with their cycle, and plan their schedules with their infradian rhythm in mind.
During the luteal phase, specifically, your metabolism speeds up, and your resting cortisol levels are higher. You must eat more calories daily to maintain stable blood sugar, which helps balance insulin — a critical hormone that greatly affects the degree of PMS you will experience. In addition, don’t engage in HIIT workouts during this time. Opt for gentler movement, like Pilates and other non-cardio strength training. How much PMS you have is totally in your control and directly related to how much or how little you support your infradian rhythm during this phase. Continue to emphasize cruciferous vegetables during this phase and add in some complex carbohydrates like those found in sweet potatoes, which are nutrient-dense.
Supplements are important, too. I recommend key micronutrients for every woman in her reproductive years—supplements that are important to take daily. I also recommend taking phase-specific supplements to further support and optimize hormone health during each phase. For phase-based support during the luteal phase, I recommend women take a blend to balance blood sugar.
Key Supplement for the Luteal Phase
The luteal phase is marked by a natural increase in metabolism, which means your body needs more calories. However, if you don’t get that caloric level dialed in, you will experience sugar cravings during this phase. To keep those cravings at bay, it’s important to emphasize complex carbs, like sweet potato and brown rice, during this phase. You’ll want to continue to eat natural sugars and complex carbs throughout the entire luteal phase, because they help boost neurochemicals like serotonin and dopamine to keep your mood stable.
As your need for calories and complex carbs goes up in the luteal phase, it’s essential to keep your blood sugar stable — and that’s where chromium and cinnamon come in. Cinnamon is associated with a statistically significant decrease in fasting glucose levels, according to research, and has the potential to reduce blood sugar after eating a meal. Cinnamon has also been shown to help reduce insulin resistance, which can happen when blood sugar levels remain too high for a long period of time and which is a precursor to other, more serious conditions.
Chromium is an essential mineral that helps regulate insulin activity in the body and enhance the metabolism of carbs, proteins, and fats. Studies show that chromium can help reduce insulin resistance, which sets the stage for clinical conditions like PCOS and gestational diabetes, and keep blood glucose stable.
Keeping blood sugar stable throughout all the phases of the infradian rhythm is important for hormone balance and a symptom-free cycle, so I encourage women to pay special attention to blood sugar across their entire infradian by eating low-glycemic foods in a phase-based pattern. For extra support during the luteal phase, I recommend taking a high-quality chromium-cinnamon supplement. There is no harm in taking chromium and cinnamon at other times during the infradian rhythm, but it can be especially helpful when you are naturally eating more complex carbs and natural sugars.
Taking these targeted supplements can help reduce or eliminate the need for ibuprofen for pain and cramps, acne medications for cyclical breakouts, birth control pills for regular periods, and caffeine for an energy boost — all of which only mask symptoms anyway.
The Flo Living Cycle Syncing Ⓡ Supplements helps you exactly when and how your body needs it during each distinct phase of your cycle. Since your hormones change each phase, it makes sense to change the way you target certain supplements each phase too.
I carefully curated the key nutrients you need to help you look and feel your best throughout your cycle. And you simply take the one for the phase you’re in - period.
At Flo Living, we are building a future where it’s easy and simple to get targeted support for your hormonal symptoms from your first period to your last. With the right support, women in their reproductive years can ease their symptoms, live with less pain, and look and feel their best — which is what every woman deserves.
*We use the words “woman” and “women” and she/her pronouns throughout these posts for ease of writing, but the principles and advice apply to any person, regardless of gender identity, who was born with female physiology. At the same time, if you are a person born with male physiology and you identify as non-binary or you are transitioning to identify as female, using a cyclical support system can help you feel more in sync with your female energy.
The Cycle Syncing® Supplement Kit
Targeted Nutraceuticals to help you optimize each phase of your cycle
Since your hormones change each phase of your cycle and you have different symptoms from those hormonal ratios each phase, you need targeted supplements for each phase to ease those specific symptoms during that phase.
This kit will help relieve your period symptoms so you can stay energized and focused all month long.