[On women’s fat loss:] “The physiological differences between genders are too big to be overlooked by coaches, trainers, or women aspiring to better their physique” – James Smith, PT

The menstrual cycle is a powerful and dynamic process that impacts women’s bodies in various ways. Based on what phase of their cycle women are in, their diet and exercise will be impacted differently.

As highlighted by James’ quote above, women aiming to lose weight benefit greatly from accounting for their cycle in their training plans. In this blog, we’ll explore how women can maximise their cycle for weight loss in more detail.

Different Approaches to Fat Loss During the Cycle

The menstrual cycle typically consists of four phases: menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase. By aligning fitness and nutrition strategies with these phases, women can optimise their weight loss efforts.

Downward Dog

Menstruation (Days 1-5)

During menstruation, energy levels may be lower, and some women experience discomfort. Lower energy levels can lead to an increased risk of injury, so it’s best to stick to gentler exercises. Good examples are yoga, walking, or some light stretching. 

Staying hydrated and focusing on iron-rich foods like leafy greens and lean proteins can help replenish nutrients lost during this phase.

Follicular Phase (Days 6-14)

As estrogen levels rise, energy and strength typically increase. This is an ideal time for more intense workouts. Research from the British Menopause Society shows that regular, consistent weight resistance exercise is the most efficient method for losing weight by increasing muscle mass and metabolic rate. 

So, use this time to prioritise strength training and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Including complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and legumes, will provide sustained energy for these demanding workouts.

Ovulation (Days 15-17)

Ovulation is marked by a surge in energy and peak strength. It’s a great time to push your limits with challenging strength training workouts. Check out our blog on pushing yourself to build muscle with your workouts here.

bootcamp exercise class at Beckwith Gym

Luteal Phase (Days 18-28)

The luteal phase is characterized by increased progesterone levels, which may lead to lower energy levels and increased cravings. Adjusting your exercise routine to include more moderate activities like cycling or a yoga class can be beneficial. 

Developing a diet plan which accounts for this increase in cravings will help you to manage them, to avoid bingeing. 

Work with a PT to Build Your Plan

Weight gain is cyclical – there will be times of each month where women’s bodies naturally change. 

For the best fat loss results, work with a fitness instructor to develop a diet and exercise plan that takes into account these different phases and physiologies. Everyone’s body is different, and women have unique symptoms and reactions throughout their cycle. 

A PT will be able to tailor a workout to your body’s needs, so you can get the best results for your efforts. Visit Beckwith Health Club’s website to get to know our team and get in touch with them.

This is especially relevant for women who suffer with PCOS, which affects 1 in 5 women. Weight loss has been found to improve symptoms from PCOS in many women, but it can be difficult. 

Similarly, the symptoms from menopause can make it harder for some women to lose weight. To learn more about why this is and how to lose weight during the menopause, visit our blog here.

legs bums tums class

Work With Your Cycle for Weight Loss, Not Against It

Embracing your menstrual cycle and tailoring your exercise and diet plans accordingly can empower you to make the most of each phase. Remember, it’s not about working against your body but rather working with it to achieve the best possible results.

Learn more about maximising fat loss during your cycle by listening to James Smith’s TED Talk here, which covers elements of this blog.