13 Jun Research proves cycle syncing helps you slim down
- Key findings: A 2016 study proves you can shed more unwanted excess pounds by syncing your eating habits and exercise regimen with the ups and downs of hormones in your cycle.
UPDATED April 26, 2022 (originally published June 13, 2016)—In 2015, I lost more than 30 pounds within six months using my Hormonology Weight-Loss Plan, which was a method I devised that tailored how I ate and exercised according to where I was in my cycle.
I created this plan by rounding up the studies that showed how the ups-and-downs of estrogen and progesterone throughout each week of the menstrual cycle impacted appetite, cravings and the effects of exercise on muscle and fat–and I then capitalized on the hormonal effects that made it easier to lose weight on certain days and overcame hormonal obstacles that made it more difficult to lose weight on other days.
Well, I’m happy to report I’ve kept off the weight all this time. And, it’s all because I continue to stick with the same hormone principles that helped me drop the excess pounds to begin with. Best of all, I don’t feel deprived, hungry or like I’m struggling to stick to a strict diet or strenuous exercise regimen. But, I do feel much healthier and far more energetic.
Since I first posted my Hormonology Diet to losing weight two years ago, I’ve heard from many women who tried it and had great success with meeting their own weight loss goals.
Well, it looks like research has finally caught up with what we Hormonology gals already know: A new six-month study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition proves that premenopausal women lose more weight when they tailor their eating and exercise habits around their menstrual cycle.
And they’ve shown just how signficant the difference can be:
Of the 31 women who completed the entire 24-week trial, those who dieted and exercised in sync with their menstrual cycle ended up losing 14.3% of their body weight versus 8.3% who didn’t sync up dieting and exercising with their cycle (a nearly 9.5-pound difference). Additionally, cycle-syncers lost 1.1 inches from their waists versus .62 inches for those who weren’t cycle-syncing.
Here’s how the researchers discovered this:
They assembled 60 women and randomly assigned them to two groups: One group consumed 1600 daily calories and completed a general workout routine designed specifically for weight loss by registered clinical dietitians. A second group also consumed 1600 daily calories and exercised, but they were given instructions about how to tailor their eating and exercise habits according to their menstrual cycle. These included the following:
- From Day 6 to Day 15 (the days after you period through ovulation), eat more protein (30% of your total intake). As the researchers explain, on these days, rising estrogen helps you build more muscles from resistance exercise, so the added protein (also a muscle-builder) helps to maximize this hormonal benefit. That’s key since having more muscle helps you burn more calories when at rest.
- From Day 16 to Day 28, continue to eat a higher amount of protein. This will help you feel fuller, which will rein in your appetite that’s intensified due to progesterone on these cycle days.
- From Day 16 to Day 28, eat more healthy fat (such as avocado and peanut butter) to fulfill your cravings for fatty foods due to progesterone.
- From Day 24 to Day 28, eat a little chocolate (you can add as much as 200 calories to your initial 1600 calorie diet) to satisfy premenstrual cravings for sweet foods, especially chocolate.
- From Day 1 to Day 5 (your period days) do one light activity daily, such as walking, yoga or stretching.
- From Day 6 to Day 15, do circuit and weight training two days per week and alternate with cardio and interval training two to three days per week. This routine capitalizes on the way rising estrogen helps build more muscle in the first half of your cycle.
- From Day 16 to Day 28, alternate strength training with cardio. This helps capitalize on the way the combination of estrogen and progesterone helps your body burn up to 30% more fat during aerobic exercise on these days.
It’s interesting to note that while most studies have participants who drop out along the way, there were significantly fewer dropouts in the group that used cycle-related diet and exercise tips than the control group who used traditional dieting and exercise, suggesting that the faster results motivated women to stick with the cycle-related weight loss plan longer.
All in all, these are simple cycle-related tweaks most women can follow that make a big difference in how quickly you drop unwanted pounds. And now thanks to this study, we know they’re proven to work–and just how much you can lose when you stick with it.
If you want try losing weight in sync with your cycle, you can use the tips from this study listed above or you can check out my own Hormonology Diet, which incorporates many of the same techniques.
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(1) Nina RW Geiker, “A weight-loss program adapted to the menstrual cycle increases weight loss in healthy, overweight, premenopausal women: a 6-mo randomized controlled trial”, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 104 (2016): 15-20