Did You know most exercises and diet regimens are based on the male anatomy and hormonal cycles? A man’s hormones and testosterone are known to peak in the morning and slowly decline throughout the day. There are some spikes during exercise or other stress-inducing activities. This makes it easy to track how certain types of stress, macro-nutrients, and food withholding can affect their metabolism, weight loss, and muscle mass. It’s a little different with us ladies.
Women’s Results And Scientific Studies
In fact, because our hormonal cycle is complex and can last up to 36 days. Women are often excluded from scientific studies on exercise and weight loss methods. Thank goodness we have some serious lady bosses out there that are wanting to change this.
More and more studies are focusing in on women’s health. Specifically how our hormonal cycles affect our rate of fatigue, basal metabolic rate, and glucose levels. Which means there is more evidence that supports how WE can work with our bodies to get the results we want.
How Do You Feel?
How many of you have felt completely worn out after a run or workout, that you breezed through less than a week ago? Or have you ever started an exercise program, saw amazing results and then felt like you plateaued? Our hormones control the metabolic rate, motivation, and insulin resistance in our body. It is easier to achieve wanted results by listening to what our bodies are doing behind the scenes and elevating this work, rather than fighting a losing battle. First things first, our “menstrual cycle”.
A Woman’s Cycle
There are four distinct phases to our cycle: your period/bleeding, follicular, ovulation, and luteal phases. Each cycle begins with the first day of your period. Our body produces an egg or two at the beginning of your follicular phase. This egg can lead to a pregnancy. Next, the egg is released into your fallopian tubes during ovulation. Then, your body determines if you will have a bun in the oven or not.
This is when your body flips into luteal phases. The first half of the cycle is all about building a little nest in your uterus for that potential bun. The second half of the cycle is all about getting ready for your next period.
So, how does this affect our exercise? Recent studies have found that in your follicular phase (the first half of your cycle), the increase in estrogen also decreases the sensitivity of insulin to glucose. Meaning that our body is able to burn through extra calories at a more efficient rate. Which is why exercising 3-4 days a week and doing things that are particularly stressful on your body, like High-Intensity Interval Workouts, Weight lifting, and cycling, should be your go to.
After that little egg has been dispatched, our bodies make a shift and our estrogen and testosterone actually drop. This means a couple of things. For one, we actually need to increase our caloric intake. That chocolate you crave right before your period, there is a reason for it. We may intake more calories during this phase, but our basal metabolic rate or the amount of energy needed at rest also increases. So, giving into these cravings generally does not end in weight gain.
The second thing that happens in the luteal phase is that we fatigue easier during our workouts, making it harder for our bodies to recover and rebuild the micro-tears we make during exercise (which results in bigger and stronger muscles). So instead of torturing yourself through a high-intensity workout that can end in tears, this is the time of the month to focus on slower, methodical types of exercise, like walking, yoga, and pilates.
Runners should focus more on slower recovering running during this half of the month with a mix of yoga and pilates to continue to build strength in your core.
Cyclist, this is the time to grab some good miles without the added weights or focus on shorter cycling classes that won’t drain your energy. These workouts will reduce your body’s overall fatigue and allow you to rebuild muscle for better results overall.