By Cory Levin, RDN
Ever wonder why one week you’re snapping selfies and ready to plan a girls weekend, but at the drop of a hat and the next you’re curled up on the couch desiring nothing but a pint of Haagen Daz and the company of your cat? As a woman, our hormones are in a state of constant fluctuation! These hormones do a lot more for us than we might think– they influence our mood, sleep, energy, sex drive, weight, fertility, digestion, and more.
Hi, I’m Cory Levin, a Registered Dietitian and women’s health expert and this is part three of a four-part series giving you research-backed, evidence-based guidelines on how to eat throughout each phase of your cycle to optimize your hormone balance and mitigate things like PMS.
Ovulation really only lasts about 12-48 hours, and in phase 3, your follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels and estrogen levels are at their highest. This creates a rapid increase in a hormone called Luteinizing Hormone (LH) – which stimulates the release of the dominant mature egg from its follicle. This ruptured follicle produces more estrogen and starts pumping out progesterone to continue to prepare the uterus for pregnancy. Your testosterone levels also increase during this ovulatory phase – which is why most women have an increased libido and higher energy levels during this part of the cycle!
During phase 3, you might be feeling increased energy, increased libido, and overall more sexy and outgoing. You may notice some symptoms of ovulation including egg-white or water-like cervical mucus, breast sensitivity, or Mittelschmerz – a mild painful or tugging sensation in the lower abdomen on the right or left depending on which side an egg is being released from (and your ovaries can switch from month to month)!
As far as foods go, you’re going to want to focus on the same foods as you did in phase 2 (your follicular phase) to sustain your body through a healthy ovulation. To recap, you want to choose foods that contain high levels of vitamins D and A as well as zinc and selenium. Pick beans, oysters, fish, shrimp, and vitamin-D fortified milk and juice to support ovarian follicle maturation, neutralize free radical damage, and assist healthy ovulation. For snacking, cashews and brazil nuts are great sources of zinc and selenium to promote the development of healthy follicles aka eggs. Apricots, tangerines, watermelon, Swiss chard, kale, sweet potatoes, romaine, and mushrooms are all great choices to help improve the quality of our eggs and help assist in a strong, healthy ovulation.
In addition, cinnamon, ginseng, and cacao all help increase libido and can be added in at higher amounts during this phase.
Cacao Date Shake. A refined sugar-free sweet treat and ovulation-boosting smoothie you can enjoy for breakfast, lunch, or a snack.
- 3 Medjool dates
- 2 ½ Tbs raw cacao powder
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 cup plant-based milk
- 1 Tbsp chia seeds
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 4 or 5 ice cubes
- Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Sip and enjoy!
Want to learn about the other phases in the cycle? Follow these links:
Cycle Nutrition In 4 Parts: The Menstrual Phase
Cycle Nutrition In 4 Parts: The Follicular Phase
Cycle Nutrition In 4 Parts: The Luteal Phase
Cory Levin is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and women's health expert. Cory is the founder and principal of The Women's Dietitian and Instagram account @thewomensdietitian, a private practice and digital platform for women seeking nutrition support for hormone balance, fertility, digestion, and weight management. She specializes in conditions such as PCOS, endometriosis, PMDD, Hashimoto’s, and nutrition therapy for infertility and assisted reproductive technology. Cory dedicates her practice to a science-backed eating and lifestyle method she has created called "Cycle Hacking". It is through this program that she customizes nutrition prescriptions for clients phase-by-phase of their cycle to optimize hormone balance and encourage healthy hormone levels.