Menstruation – Phases & Nutrition

In women Menstruation begins at puberty. A normal menstrual cycle is regular but varies from person to person. On an average it is a 28-day cycle and has 4 phases.

Phases of Menstrual Cycle

  1. Menstrual Phase
  2. Follicular phase
  3. Ovulation Phase
  4. Luteal Phase

Throughout the cycle the appetite, energy level, mood and behaviour vary according to each phase.

The nutritional needs of the body also differ according to these changes.

Proper diet and exercise have a major role in managing your menstrual cycle.


  1. Menstrual Phase (0-7 days):

The phase of vaginal bleeding.

 When the lining of the uterus called the endometrium sheds and causes bleeding.

Oestrogen levels are at the lowest and causes lack of energy.

Loss of Iron due to bleeding.

Diet to Follow:

  • Iron rich food such as green leafy vegetables, lean red meat, lentils and beans, dark chocolate.
  • Vitamin C rich food as it increases iron absorption. Eg:- Citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, red pepper.
  • Vitamin K rich foods as it checks heavy bleeding. Eg:- Blueberries,  eggs, green leafy vegetables.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and cramping Eg:- Salmon, flax seeds, almonds.
  • Avoid heavy foods, left over, raw salads, frequent coffee as this leads to bloating and heaviness which increase menstrual pain.


As the energy level is low it is advised to stick with low intensity activities like walking and stretching.

  1. Follicular Phase (day 8-13 ):

Energy levels are increasing; rise in oestrogen causes the endometrium to thicken. Adequate nutrition is important during this phase because it provides the energy your body needs as it prepares to release an egg.

Diet to Follow:

  • Lean proteins and complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa

Estrogen balancing food including – sesame seeds, soyabean, garlic, lentils which is rich in folic acid

  • Healthy fats such as Avocados, flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds.
  • Leafy green vegetables. – spinach, moringa,


Energy levels are high so include cardio based workouts such as running and swimming.

  1. Ovulation Phase (day 14-15) 

High energy levels

Estrogen and luteinising hormone levels peak up.

Ovaries release an egg.

Diet to Follow:

  • Carbohydrates with low glycaemic index such as beans, nuts, minimally processed grains, vegetables and fruits.
  • Unsaturated fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel, flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts
  • Anti-oxidant rich food such as gooseberry, blueberry, black berry and dark leafy greens.
  • Dietary source of Vit D such as salmon, fortified milk and eggs
  • Folic acid rich food such as asparagus, spinach and breakfast cereals.


As there are high energy levels, high intensity workouts are advised.

  1. Luteal phase: (day 16-28)

Body is preparing for menstruation, which is characterised by rising progesterone levels to maintain the uterine lining for a potential pregnancy. This is the phase where PMS sets in.

Diet to follow:

  • Complex carbohydrates and fibre rich food to curb cravings and hunger. Eg:- Sweet potato, Leafy vegetables.
  • Healthy fats from foods like fish avocado and nuts.
  • Calcium rich foods like tofu, white beans, dark leafy greens.
  • Magnesium rich food to reduce fluid retention. Eg:- Dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, cashew.


  • Medium intensity cardio and strength training.
  • Overall proper nutrition and exercise play a significant role in how you experience your menstrual cycle. 
  • Be mindful of your body and the changes it go through and modulate our diet and routine accordingly.

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