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Unread 05-30-2018, 04:21 PM
Jane Jane is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 4
Lightbulb Women and surfing the hormonal tide for body recomposition

TL;DR: Maybe women could do a fat loss/muscle gain cycle congruent with our menstrual cycle. Follicular phase for muscle growth, luteal phase for fat loss.

Let me preface this by saying I'm just brainstorming. Technically I've been training regularly for five months, but two or three months of that were playing fitness games rather than focused strength training. I'm still trying to eke out beginner gains with a very basic program, and just rolling this around in my head for sometime in the next year, when I might actually use it.

So I was reading The Women's Book (highly recommended, looking forward to vol. 2. Buy the ebook so you can search for terms in lieu of an index) and especially the summary table of hormonal states in different parts of the menstrual cycle. And I was rereading The Ultimate Diet 2.0 since I'm finally lean enough to use it (literally years after initial purchase, but better late than never!). UD2 has a very similar table. ....Intriguingly similar, in fact. The hormonal state created by UD2's diet phase is congruent, but not identical, to the hormonal state created naturally in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. Likewise, the estrogen-dominant follicular phase, with higher insulin sensitivity, lends itself to anabolism. Maybe we can use that. (when I say "we," I mean "we with uteruses." Sorry, Y-chromosome bearers. We've got to have *one* physiological advantage, since you're hoarding all the androgens).

So consider this; why fight the hormonal tide trying to build muscle during the luteal phase? Wait a couple weeks and it will be easier. Instead, approaching ovulation, you're switching to a lower-carb diet anyway. Make a couple changes; keep calories at maintenance, maybe (realistically, because society-induced body dysmorphia) put calories at maintenance minus 10--20--30%. Increased luteal-phase fat storage means you'd want to stick to maintenance-or-below calories even if you're generally focused on gaining muscle. But stay above UD2 deficit levels, since this will be for a week/ten days/two weeks. Keep up with weight training, and keep the intensity high to maintain your carefully hoarded muscle (more precious than gold). But reduce the volume a little bit--no point in pushing to build muscle right now when you're pregesterone-dominant anyway. And use the time saved from weight training to do some LISS. Because you're on lower carbs and maybe a calorie deficit anyhow, and why waste that? Maybe you did a depletion workout or some interval training going into ovulation as you switched your diet, maybe not. With twoish weeks at low carbs, exactly when you deplete glycogen might not matter much. And lower carbs will help keep wild blood sugar swings and cravings in check regardless.

Approaching menstruation, you might carb up in preparation for the anabolic phase. Maybe pulling water into glycogen production would help with water retention! Maybe not. Maybe you'd feel gross and bloated and headachy and nauseous. Who knows? Not me! But you could carb up after or during menstruation the next time if you have problems. You'd increase your regular carbohydrate consumption, too, and increase calories to maybe maintenance plus 10% (or whatever rate of muscle gain you think is accessible). And reduce your cardio to keep the time commitment managable and put more energy into anabolism. Then you'd be feeling strong as your weight training returned to your normal volume and you build some muscle or hit a PR or have a terrific lap time.

I 100% invite comments, criticism, and thoughts about this. If I'm off-base on something, please let me know. If you have experience using something similar, I'd love to hear it!

Because I have to deal with cramps and headaches every. blessed. month. But being able to leverage that into seeing my abs and maybe doing a real pull-up would make up for a LOT.
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