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Luteal Phase and Calorie Needs

A woman’s menstrual cycle is broken up into two phases – the follicular phase and the luteal phase.

The start of follicular phase is characterized by day one of your period and goes until ovulation. Luteal phase begins the day after ovulation up until your period begins.

During luteal phase, progesterone levels increase in anticipation of your egg becoming fertilized. If this does not happen, you shed your uterine lining and the cycle starts over.

With this increase and change in hormones, your body begins to require more calories – roughly 200 to 300 more per day. In addition, you become less sensitive to the insulin your body produces, which means your body has a harder time gaining access to the energy it needs, especially during exercise.

As a result, women often find they are hungrier during this phase and their cravings for carbohydrates increase.

What does this mean for you, as a CrossFit athlete?

You may have heard us reference CrossFit as a “carbohydrate dependent sport”. This means that the exercise you’re performing utilizes mainly carbohydrates as fuel.

So when you’re in luteal phase, not only do you potentially need to be eating more, you may find that most of those calories should be coming from increasing your carb intake.

Start tracking where you’re at now, at least a few times a week. We recommend most of our athletes be at a minimum of 180-200g of carbs per day, regardless of where you’re at in your cycle.

And speaking of tracking, you SHOULD know almost to the day (if you can) whats happening with your hormones. This will help explain the upswing in hunger or the struggle standing that bar up on what is normally light weight (more on this later).

Questions, comments, that’s what we’re here for!

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