The Infradian Rhythm: A Holistic Way to Optimize Women’s Health

Discover how eating and exercising in sync with an internal ‘second clock’ can make women calmer, joyful, and healthier. 

Just like circadian rhythm — our body’s 24-hour internal clock — women have an additional cycle called infradian rhythm that happens weekly, monthly, or seasonally. While everyone experiences circadian rhythm, the infradian rhythm relates to women’s menstrual cycles. This 28-day cycle not just regulates your menstrual cycle, but also affects your metabolism, mood, energy levels, sex drive, immune system, emotions and so much more.

Month after month, we navigate through the highs and lows of hormones often accepting the discomfort and pain without adjusting our lifestyle to sync with these fluctuations.

The changes associated with infradian rhythm manifests in a variety of different ways. Ever wondered why you feel unusually tired or stressed at certain times of the month?

These fluctuations occur during the infradian cycle and demand different nutritional and movement needs for your body. It becomes important to adjust our diet, movement, and sleep according to where we are in this month-long cycle.

How to Connect With Your Infradian Rhythm?

The best way to monitor your infradian rhythm is by tracking your menstrual cycle. The menstrual cycle starts from the day the bleeding starts and is made up of four distinct phases.

Let’s understand what these phases mean and how to eat and exercise during each of them to optimize your infradian rhythm.

Phase 1 (Menstrual)

Days: 1 to 5

What happens: Levels of estrogen and progesterone are low.

What to eat: Vitamin B-complex, omega-3, antioxidants, and magnesium supplements. Eat vegetables, fruits, fish, and herbal teas. Avoid fried foods, alcohol, and caffeine. Eat complex carbs to keep your blood sugar stable.

How to exercise: During this phase, your energy levels are low, so give yourself the rest you need. Light movements like stretching, yoga, and walks are recommended.

What to do: This is the time in your cycle when you need high-quality sleep, care, and rest. It’s also the time to sit and ponder over which aspects of your life need more attention.

Phase 2 (Follicular)

Days: 6 to 14

What happens: Estrogen and progesterone are on the rise.

What to eat: Foods that support the metabolism of estrogen (fruits, vegetables, fermented foods, proteins, and zinc supplements). Eat lighter meals.

How to exercise: During this phase, your metabolism gets slower. Hence, fat burning, cardio, HIIT workout, and strength training are recommended.

What to do: This phase is likely to be the “happy” phase of your cycle. With increased creativity and optimism, this time is perfect to dive into new projects.

Phase 3 (Ovulatory)

Days: 15 to 17

What happens: Estrogen peaks; testosterone and progesterone also rises.

What to eat: Support the liver and detoxify excess hormones with dietary fiber. Eat fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, nuts, oils, and quality proteins. Take supplements containing vitamin C, vitamin B-complex, and antioxidants.

How to exercise: High energy movements like running and sprinting to enhance your stamina.

What to do: During this phase, your sex drive, confidence, and energy level are likely to be high and you are more extroverted. This is the time for all those meaningful conversations, and closing the deals.

Phase 4 (Luteal)

Days: 18 to 28

What happens: Progesterone at its highest.

What to eat: At this phase, your food cravings might start. To combat cravings include calcium, omega-3, magnesium, and B-vitamins in your diet. Control blood sugar with healthy fats and high-quality meat.

How to exercise: Light or moderate exercises like yoga, pilates, and low-intensity cardio.

What to do: Focus on self-care. At this point, your body needs to relax.

Understanding the infradian rhythm is an excellent way to peek into the biochemistry of your body. Every woman is different, so the changes they face during this cycle are also different. Keeping a daily log of your symptoms and moods for a few months helps you decipher your pattern. Once you identify these patterns, you will know what foods to avoid, what symptoms to expect and how to improve your overall performance and mental health.