Can Cycle Syncing Bring a Healthy Balance to Your Life?

Craig Primack, MD, FACP, FAAP, FOMA

Reviewed by Craig Primack, MD, FACP, FAAP, FOMA

Written by Rachel Sacks

Published 04/05/2024

You’re probably well aware of the uncomfortable symptoms leading up to (and during) that time of the month. What if you could make simple changes to feel better not just while on your period but throughout all menstrual cycle phases? That’s where cycle syncing comes in.

Cycle syncing involves aligning your lifestyle habits (like how you exercise and what you eat) with the different phases of your menstrual cycle.

We’ll break down what cycle syncing is, how it might help with hormones during the menstrual cycle, how to do it and if optimizing your lifestyle around your period can bring balance to your overall health.

Originally coined by Alisa Vitti, cycle syncing is changing your lifestyle habits — like your exercise routine, sleep schedule and nutrition — to match the different phases of the menstrual cycle.

The idea is that tracking hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle can help you better manage your health and alleviate symptoms.

As you probably know, the menstrual cycle is your body’s process of preparing for possible pregnancy, with regular periods indicating healthy bodily function.

You’re not imagining that you’re on an emotional rollercoaster during (or before or after) your period. The ups, downs and loop-de-loops of how you feel at different stages of the menstrual cycle are thanks to hormonal changes.

These hormonal fluctuations (mostly the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone) affect your appetite, energy levels, mood, self-esteem and so much more.

Lasting 28 days on average, there are four phases of the menstrual cycle:

  • Follicular phase

  • Ovulatory phase

  • Luteal phase

  • Menstruation

During the follicular phase, which lasts almost 14 days, hormone levels start to rise.

Estrogen levels peak when ovulation starts, while progesterone levels continue to rise over the next one to three days.

Then, in the luteal phase (if the egg released during ovulation isn’t fertilized), hormone levels decrease and the menstrual cycle starts again.

You can track your cycle using a paper calendar or a digital app. But just know it can take a few months to identify how long each phase and cycle lasts.

Also, 28 days is just an average — anything from 21 to 35 days is considered normal. And some people are irregular, meaning their cycles won’t be the same number of days each month. Additionally, while hormonal birth control suppresses the normal menstrual cycle, you can still experience hormonal shifts while taking it.

Once you have your cycle down, you can implement different exercises, foods and lifestyle habits to optimize how you feel during each stage. We’ll go over these below.

If you feel like your period rules your life, cycle syncing could have benefits. You check the weather before you leave the house, so why not check your hormone levels?

While there aren’t too many scientific studies supporting cycle syncing and its benefits, tracking your period might be helpful.

Some believe cycle syncing benefits include:

  • Feeling more mindful about your cycle or in tune with your body

  • Relieving premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms

  • Feeling more energized or rested

  • Help achieving health goals

We cover the benefits of cycle syncing for different aspects of your health below, from weight management to nutrition and more.

Cycle Syncing Weight Loss

If you and your healthcare provider have discussed weight loss goals for your health, you might wonder whether cycle syncing can play a role in weight management.

Weight gain can be related to the menstrual cycle for many women, thanks to increased appetite and food cravings — but is there any fact to cycle syncing weight loss?

In research looking at women who tracked their cycles using a digital tracking app, many had a body mass index (BMI) in the normal range, while one-third had excess weight or obesity.

The data found no significant differences in total cycle length or phase variations in women with higher BMIs.

Though your menstrual cycle may not affect weight gain or loss, weight changes can impact your menstrual cycle. Still, that’s not to say cycle syncing weight loss will definitely happen once you start tracking your period and adapting lifestyle habits.

Cycle syncing can help you figure out the best habits based on the different phases of your menstrual cycle. In that sense, it might help as part of a holistic approach to weight loss.

Your provider can help you come up with a personalized weight management plan that may include healthy lifestyle changes and prescribed weight loss medications.

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Weight loss treatment that puts you first

Even when it’s not that time of month, you might struggle to get motivated to exercise. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s natural to be low-energy during certain menstrual phases — or for other reasons, like a packed schedule with little time to rest.

But since hormone levels fluctuate as you cycle through the phases, cycle-syncing workouts could help align your moods and energy levels.

Exercise During Menstrual and Luteal Phases

During the luteal and menstrual phases — when energy levels are low — light movements like relaxing yoga poses might be best. A small study of women with PMS found that yoga was more effective at relieving PMS symptoms than aerobic exercise.

Looking for more luteal phase workouts? Low-intensity cardio is great when hormone levels are lower. For instance, walking for weight loss is an easy and effective way to bump up your daily movement without breaking too much of a sweat.

Exercise During Follicular and Ovulation Phases

You might feel more up for workouts like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or strength training during the follicular and ovulation phases when your hormonal and energy levels rise.

The point is, working out with your cycle lets you adapt to your body’s natural rhythm. You don’t have to go hard when you don’t feel like it — but when you have more of a pep in your step, you can lean into the burst of energy.

If you ever crave chocolate or salty foods like chips, you know your period’s probably coming up. There’s a reason you suddenly want certain foods — and yep, it’s (partly) to do with your hormones.

Eating for your cycle can mean focusing on getting key nutrients your body needs during each phase.

Nutrition Cycle Syncing for Luteal and Menstrual Phases

You might notice food cravings or an increased appetite right before or during your period. This means you’re probably in your luteal phase and experiencing changes in estrogen and serotonin levels (hello, mood swings).

Wondering what to eat during the luteal phase? Foods that produce serotonin are good choices. This includes leafy greens and quinoa, as well as magnesium-rich foods that fight fatigue and low libido, like dark chocolate and pumpkin seeds.

Cramping, fatigue and irritability are common during menstruation. Eating iron-rich foods like leafy vegetables and red meat can replace iron lost from bleeding.

Nutrition Cycle Syncing for Follicular and Ovulation Phases

Wondering what to eat during the follicular phase or while ovulating?

Focus on protein when choosing ovulation and follicular phase foods. Protein can help support weight loss and muscle building while providing fuel for higher-intensity workouts.

Cycle syncing is about more than just nutrition, exercise and menstrual cycles. Tracking the different phases of the menstrual cycle might also improve your sleep.

During the luteal phase, sleep quality can take a downward turn. Some research also suggests a connection between light exposure (think sunlight or artificial light from your phone) and the menstrual cycle phases.

Women tend to have shorter circadian periods than men — the sleep-wake cycle that responds primarily to lightness and darkness — which may be due to hormonal changes. However, evidence isn’t conclusive on the effects of periods on sleep in women.

While your period may or may not affect your sleep schedule, sleep and weight loss are undoubtedly connected. So cycle syncing could be beneficial for both shut-eye and weight management.

Cycle syncing is becoming more popular, and it may help some women on their health journeys. But does adjusting your lifestyle habits to your menstrual cycle phases result in improved health or weight loss?

Here’s the bottom line:

  • Cycle syncing might have some wellness benefits. The holistic approach aligns daily activities — such as nutrition, physical activity and weight management — with the different phases of the menstrual cycle to optimize health and well-being.

  • More research is needed. While cycle syncing is growing in popularity, research is inconclusive on how effective it is for health, especially in terms of weight loss.

  • Do what works for you. Everyone’s weight loss and health journeys are unique, and some people have irregular cycles. With this in mind, it’s important to listen to your body’s cues, adjust cycle syncing practices accordingly and consult a medical professional with questions or concerns.

Cycle syncing can play a positive role in women’s health, from simply tracking periods to supporting weight loss journeys. Some may find syncing lets them be more in tune with their bodies or choose to use it as another tool to reach their health goals.

Want help with weight management today? Fill out our quick online questionnaire, and we’ll connect you with a healthcare provider who can create a personalized treatment plan based on your needs and goals.

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