Updated: Apr 27, 2020
During the Luteal phase (the time between ovulation and the beginning of your next period), your body has an increased level of hormones, specifically estrogen and progesterone. While these hormones play many important roles they can also act as a hindrance to your performance in sport. Due to increased levels of these hormones, your core body temperature becomes elevated at baseline and your blood becomes thicker and less is pumped out with each heartbeat. This means once you start exercising it is much harder to cool down. Your muscles heat up due to exertion, however with less blood circulating through them to pull the heat out it is much harder to cool them down. Another consideration during this time is the fact that progesterone competes with aldosterone, meaning your body is dumping sodium in the urine. On top of that, estrogen acts on the kidneys to increase fluid retention. This combination makes you much more vulnerable to both dehydration and hyponatremia. This phase in the cycle also makes females more susceptible to lower GI distress, so it is very important to dial in on your nutrition before, during and after exercise during this time. Special caution to avoiding hard to digest foods such as fructose and dairy before exercise can prove very beneficial (Sims, 2016). With all these factors in mind, it is very important to hydrate properly before training in this phase. Here is an electrolyte and carb packed pre-hydration drink I recommend to fuel your training especially in the high-heat, luteal days.
-3 Tbsp. Matcha hydrate coconut water by laird superfood (this combination provides electrolytes, trace minerals, carbs and caffeine to help hydrate and energize) -1⁄2 to 2⁄3 c. filtered water -1 - 2 scoops whey protein isolate (or combo of pea and quinoa protein if not tolerated well) -1⁄4 c. frozen berries (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries) -1 fig -Slice of avocado -1 serving of fermented BCAA powder -Ice cubes (as needed)
Blend it all together to the consistency you desire!
Some importance behind the ingredients:
Coconut water is a great alternative to a sports drink, with a much lower sugar content (about 4 to 6 percent) and over half of those sugars coming as glucose and sucrose, the choice sugars before exercise. This creates the optimal form for gastric emptying and hydrating the muscle tissue. Coconut water is also a great source of Potassium and also contains some sodium, both of which are necessary electrolytes (Saxelby, 2013).
Matcha provides performance enhancing caffeine as well as L-theanine, creating a calm and jitter-free energy boost.
An easy to digest protein, such as whey, helps the body to break down and access those essential amino acids needed to fuel the muscles for exercise. Whey is a complete protein and supports muscle protein synthesis.
Berries are a low glycemic form of carbohydrates and are packed full of antioxidants. Antioxidants help to bind to harmful free radicals and oxidative stress created during exercise.
Strawberries also serve as a great source of vitamin C which aids in the production of carnitine, which is used in the formation of energy.
Figs are packed full of carbs and sugars to help fuel, while still being a bit lower in fructose than other fruits such as dates.
Avocados are packed full of magnesium, an electrolyte essential for the contraction and relaxation of muscles. BCAAs before exercise help to counteract Central Nervous System fatigue, brain fog and lack of motivation. This smoothie gives proper macronutrients and minerals to hydrate and fuel before exercise. Dialing in on these is especially important during the luteal phase to stay on top of hydration and blood sugar. Using exogenous carbohydrate sources before and during this phase can help you hit higher intensities due to your bodies lack of ability to tap into glycogen stores. This smoothie avoids bothersome sugars and proteins such as fructose and lactose and helps to avoid delayed gastric emptying. As with all fueling in and around exercise, it can take time and experimenting as each person’s body is uniquely different. Also remember to continue hydrating throughout your session by sipping small amounts throughout. In the luteal phase, thirst can be muted so you may want to set a timer to remind yourself. I hope you enjoy the smoothie and crush it in your workout!