For people who menstruate, cycle syncing can be an empowering way to take ownership of how hormones impact your body. For athletes, this may mean adopting menstrual-cycle-syncing workouts, which account for varying hormone levels and ratios throughout the month.

In terms of nutrition, Nikki Saheb, RDN, CNS, a registered dietitian, certified nutrition specialist, and founder of Salamati Nutrition, says what we eat is yet another important factor that can impact hormone and menstrual cycles. As such, Saheb recommends adopting a “four seasons” approach to nutrition centered around optimizing your diet to meet your body’s needs during the different phases of your hormone cycle.

Keep in mind, however, as talking about hormones and menstruation has been historically done in hushed tones, research on menstrual cycles1 is still in its infancy due to glaring research gender gaps despite there being nearly 1.8 billion people who menstruate each month2. That’s to say, as much as we wait for more data to support hormone health—especially for folks who menstruate—everyone’s body is different and consulting with a medical health professional before adopting any new food or supplement routine is still the best course of action.

Cycle syncing nutrition for the ‘four seasons’ of your menstrual cycle

Winter: Menstruation (Days 1-5)

According to Saheb, the menstruation phase (aka winter) begins on the first day of your period.

“In the absence of pregnancy, the uterus sheds its lining, resulting in menstrual bleeding,” Saheb explains. During this time, she points out that estrogen and progesterone levels are low, and due to menstruation, iron levels can decline. This can leave folks wanting warm comfort foods, much like you may feel during the harsh, cold winter months.

As such, Saheb recommends focusing on three key nutrients during this time: iron, vitamin C, and magnesium. “Iron-rich foods are important to replenish the blood lost during menstruation and it’s helpful to add vitamin C to aid in iron absorption. Meanwhile, magnesium can help regulate the nervous system and reduce premenstrual syndrome symptoms (PMS),” Saheb says. Additionally, you’ll notice that many of the foods she recommends for the “winter” phase also contain high levels of B vitamins, which are important for energy production and nervous system support.

What to eat during your menstrual phase: 

  • Iron-rich foods: dark leafy greens, lentils, legumes, beans, dried prunes, grass-fed meat, fatty fish, shellfish, dates, and eggs
  • Vitamin C-rich foods: strawberries, colorful peppers, and citrus fruits
  • Magnesium-rich foods: beans, tofu, dark chocolate, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and whole-grains

On the flip side, Saheb recommends avoiding ultra-processed foods, alcohol, spicy foods, and caffeine (if possible) during this time as they can potentially aggravate PMS symptoms. That said, Saheb stresses the last thing you want to do is adopt a restrictive mindset. “Don’t be too self-critical and listen to your body and emotional needs,” she says. On that note, if you’re experiencing PMS Saheb recommends O Positiv’s FLO PMS Complete to help relieve symptoms during this phase.

Spring: Follicular Phase (Days 6-14)

This phase starts on the last day of your period and lasts until ovulation. “In the mid-follicular phase, once bleeding has stopped, estrogen levels rise, and so does our energy. Spring has officially sprung in your body, so you’ll want to focus on fresh, vibrant, and light foods while including similar nutrients from your menstrual phase,” Saheb says.

During this time, she recommends focusing on sources of phytoestrogens, naturally occurring polycyclic phenols that are found in certain plants. “Phytoestrogens are important in the follicular phase because they help regulate estrogen levels and also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties,” she says.

Saheb adds that incorporating probiotic-rich foods to support a healthy gut microbiome is essential for a strong immune system during this time. In addition to probiotic-rich foods, Saheb recommends O Positiv’s Prebiotic Fiber Gummies that contain three grams of fiber per serving.

What to eat during your follicular phase:

  • Probiotic-rich foods: kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, tempeh, miso, and kombucha
  • Phytoestrogen-rich foods: flaxseeds, edamame, tofu, broccoli, kale, and pumpkin seeds

Summer: Ovulation Phase (Around Day 15-16)

Ovulation usually occurs around the middle of the menstrual cycle and is better known as the time of the month when pregnancy can occur. “This phase is triggered by a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) and a peak in estrogen,” Saheb says. She notes that during this time, the body’s basal temperature rises, hence the summer analogy. This can be accompanied by feeling more “social and vibrant” than usual, according to Saheb.

“During this time, we want to support our body’s favorite detox organ, the liver. Many cruciferous vegetables are rich in glutathione, which is an antioxidant that helps the liver metabolize excess estrogen from the body more efficiently. Fiber-rich foods also support estrogen detoxification3,” Saheb says, which is crucial for maintaining hormonal balance.

For anti-inflammatory benefits, Saheb also recommends pairing the foods below with heart-healthy omega-3 fats like salmon, mackerel, or sardines. Or, for a plant-based approach, seaweed, walnuts, chia seeds, or edamame.

What to eat during your ovulation phase:

  • Glutathione-rich foods: cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, garlic, onion, and mushrooms
  • Fiber-rich foods: quinoa, berries, beans, sweet potatoes, and avocado
  • Omega-3-rich foods: salmon, mackerel, sardines, seaweed, walnuts, chia seeds, or edamame

Fall: Luteal Phase (Days 17-28)

“The luteal phase is the longest phase and is often categorized into two parts. In the late luteal phase, progesterone levels rise until menstruation,” Saheb says. During this time, she notes that you may experience an increase in appetite. “Complex or ‘slow-burning’ carbohydrates regulate our ‘happy hormones,’ aka serotonin and dopamine,” Saheb says. This can play a role in keeping mood and appetite stable.

During the luteal phase, Saheb says increasing the intake of mineral-rich foods—high in potassium, calcium, magnesium, and zinc—can help optimize progesterone production. Additionally, she recommends foods rich in fiber and B vitamins, which she says help “keep energy and blood sugar levels stable and encourage regular bowel movements.” To reduce PMS symptoms, Saheb also notes that upping your intake of anti-inflammatory herbs and spices—in tea form or with your meals—can help.

What to eat during your luteal phase:

  • Zinc-rich foods: oysters, chickpeas, tofu, and organ meats
  • Calcium-rich foods: yogurt, tofu, sardines, almonds, and dark leafy greens
  • Potassium-rich foods: bananas, avocado, potatoes, winter squash, and beets
  • Magnesium-rich foods: beans, oatmeal, dark chocolate, sesame, and pumpkin seeds
  • Anti-inflammatory herbs and spices: red raspberry leaf, ginger, dandelion root, turmeric, and saffron

A friendly reminder: Hormonal cycles are very personal and different for everyone

Although cycle-syncing nutrition may be helpful for some folks, it certainly isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. “The menstrual cycle is a powerful and complex system that is affected by many environmental and lifestyle factors. It’s important to remember that this is a guide to help nourish you throughout each stage of your cycle. Don’t stress too much about what you shouldn’t eat. Instead focus on slowly incorporating more of the foods listed in each phase,” Saheb says.

It’s also important to keep in mind that women with irregular cycles due to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), amenorrhea, perimenopause, or the use of hormonal birth control, to name a few, will have varying hormone levels and cycles. As such, Saheb says it may be difficult to pinpoint which “season” you’re in at all times. The silver lining? “As long as you’re nourishing your body with nutrient-dense foods throughout the month, you’re likely cycle-syncing your diet without even realizing it,” Saheb says.

The most important thing in Saheb’s purview? “Listen to your body and adjust your diet based on your individual needs and how you feel. Most importantly, make sure you’re eating enough to fuel your incredible body that is working extra hard every day to keep you alive,” she says.

An RD shares how to eat for your menstrual cycle:

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.

    1. Babbar, Karan et al. “Menstrual health is a public health and human rights issue.” The Lancet. Public health vol. 7,1 (2022): e10-e11. doi:10.1016/S2468-2667(21)00212-7


    1. Rohatgi, Aishwarya, and Sambit Dash. “Period poverty and mental health of menstruators during COVID-19 pandemic: Lessons and implications for the future.” Frontiers in global women’s health vol. 4 1128169. 1 Mar. 2023, doi:10.3389/fgwh.2023.1128169


    1. Hodges, Romilly E, and Deanna M Minich. “Modulation of Metabolic Detoxification Pathways Using Foods and Food-Derived Components: A Scientific Review with Clinical Application.” Journal of nutrition and metabolism vol. 2015 (2015): 760689. doi:10.1155/2015/760689


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