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Luteal Phase Foods - A Guide

Cycle Syncing By: Katie Lister

February 14, 2024

What is the luteal phase? What should I eat during the luteal phase? What foods should I avoid during the luteal phase? Are there any physical symptoms during the luteal phase? If you have questions about the luteal phase foods, this article will answer them and more.

Hi, I am Katie Lister, a practicing Registered Nurse and the founder of Growth Gals. I lead personal development groups and communities and coach women to evolve into the best versions of themselves. GG provides women with a safe space to come together to learn and get support from other like-minded women.

At Growth Gals, we explore numerous topics, including the menstrual cycle and other related topics. This article will provide the information you need to know more about luteal phase foods.

Table of Contents

Katie Lister

Katie Lister

Written by Katie Lister, RN, BScN. An experienced Registered Nurse, Group Facilitator, Life Coach, and Community Leader. Read Katie's Full Author Bio

What is the Luteal Phase?

The luteal phase is in the second half of your menstrual cycle and starts around the 15th day of a 28-day cycle, ending when your period starts. In the luteal phase, the follicle releases the egg, which becomes the corpus luteum (cells in your ovary). The corpus luteum produces estrogen and progesterone hormones, which thicken your uterine lining, preparing the uterus for a potential pregnancy in the ovulatory phase.

If a sperm fertilizes the egg and implantation occurs in your uterus, the corpus luteum continues producing progesterone, which maintains the thick uterus lining. Without egg fertilization, your body reabsorbs the corpus luteum, lowering the progesterone level. The uterine lining starts shedding, which signifies the start of menstruation.

The average menstrual cycle runs for 28 days, with the luteal phase between 12 and 14 days. The average luteal phase is between 10 to 17 days. If your luteal phase is less than ten days, it’s called a short luteal phase. This means that your uterine lining may not develop enough to support a pregnancy, leading to difficulty conceiving. A short luteal phase can also signify a luteal phase defect (LPD), which can cause infertility or miscarriage.

The long luteal phase is when your period arrives 18 days or more after ovulation and is the opposite of a short luteal phase, where the period arrives earlier than ten days after ovulation. A long luteal phase may indicate a hormonal imbalance, such as PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), especially if you have excess estrogen. You might be pregnant if your period hasn’t arrived within 14 days after ovulation.

During the luteal phase, you may experience PMS (premenstrual syndrome) symptoms like bloating, breast tenderness, changes in your moods, etc.

What are the best cycle syncing workouts for the luteal phase? Find out here. 

How Diet Affects the Luteal Phase of Our Cycle

Hormonal changes during phases of the menstrual cycle can cause swings in your energy, appetite, social engagement, etc. For better hormonal balance, you can use cycle syncing, a method where you adapt your lifestyle with each phase of your menstrual cycle. Cycle syncing allows you to track your energy levels by understanding the hormonal fluctuations in each phase.

Period-tracking apps downloaded from the Android Play Store or iOS Apple Store can help you track your menstrual cycle. Cycle-syncing food allows you to cater to your different nutritional needs in each phase and eat the right food at the right phase.


Creating a meal plan for each phase while noting which foods your body agrees with will help you streamline your diet.  Your progesterone levels rise during this phase and you need to carefully watch your diet as you may experience food cravings for high-calorie, fatty, and sugary foods.

Foods high in salts and fats cause inflammation and increase water retention. You must closely watch what you consume to avoid triggering inflammation, water retention, bloating, etc.

Why is cycle syncing food important? Learn more. 

Luteal Phase Foods: What Should I Eat?

During the luteal phase, your body works hard to prepare the uterus for a pregnancy. In this stage, your body needs more fat for energy and breaks down protein at a higher rate. You should ensure you eat foods rich in:


Magnesium lowers water retention, improves sleep quality, and lowers mild anxiety due to its ability to regulate cortisol, the stress hormone. Magnesium balances insulin, lowers your blood sugar and also fights low libido and fatigue. Magnesium-rich foods include:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Nuts (almonds, dry roasted peanuts and cashews)
  • Leafy greens like spinach
  • Whole grain
  • Avocados
  • Black beans
  • Pumpkin seeds


Calcium lowers symptoms of depression, anxiety, and water retention. Eat more calcium-rich foods like:

  • Seeds (sunflower and chia seeds
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Yogurt
  • Edamame


A protein and fiber-filled diet keeps you full longer, reducing cravings and unnecessary snacking. Proteins also help maintain muscle and strength as you prepare for menstruation. Protein-rich foods include:

  • Fish
  • Lean meats
  • Eggs
  • Tofu
  • Beans
  • Leafy greens
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils

Vitamin-Rich Foods

A nutritious diet comprising whole foods high in vitamins B6, B12, D, and C can prevent or reduce PMS symptoms. Whole foods provide optimal fuel for the body and help reduce digestive stress, which can positively impact your mood. These foods include:

  • Vitamin B6: Salmon, tuna, chicken, chickpeas and sweet potatoes
  • Vitamin B12: Trout, eggs, and chicken breast. Try fortified cereals, nutritional yeast, or vitamin B12 supplements for vegans or vegetarians.
  • Vitamin C: Green bell peppers, citrus fruits, sweet red peppers, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, etc.
  • Vitamin D: Eggs, cod liver oil, salmon, egg yolks, and fortified cereals

Iron-Rich foods                  

Eat iron-rich foods to replace blood lost during menstruation, like:

  • Lean meats (turkey or red meat (beef)
  • Leafy greens (kale and spinach)
  • Legumes (chickpeas and lentils)

Complex carbohydrates

Complex carbs provide energy and balance your hormones: Examples include:

  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Brown rice

Probiotic-rich foods

Probiotic-rich foods help in gut health such as:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Olives

Luteal Phase Foods: What Should I Avoid?

During the luteal phase, progesterone and estrogen hormone levels are very low. It’s essential to avoid foods that make PMS symptoms worse, such as:

  • Caffeine: It negatively impacts your estrogen levels and is a natural laxative that makes cramping worse.
  • Alcohol: Affects your hormone balance, liver function and worsens cramps
  • Highly processed foods: These include fried foods with high salt content and sugar. These foods cause inflammation and also worsen period cramps
  • Unhealthy fats  in foods such as biscuits, pastries and cakes
  • Spicy foods
  • Foods with phytoestrogens, which affect your estrogen balance
  • Artificial sweeteners and carbonated drinks as they stress your liver
  • Dairy as it increases bloating

Ideal Supplements Pre-Luteal Phase

During the follicular phase, your body prepares for ovulation (luteal phase) with rising estrogen and testosterone levels. You experience a surge in FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone) and a boost in physical energy as the uterine lining thickens. During this phase, eating the right follicular phase foods and supplementing for proper nutrition is vital as it helps to regulate hormones and provide energy and nutrients in readiness for the luteal phase. 

We cannot always get enough nutrients from food and may need supplements for the follicular phase. Some of these supplements include:

  • Maca root: Improves energy and balances your hormones.
  • Fish oil (Omega-3s): These are essential fatty acids necessary for heart health, brain function, and inflammation reduction.
  • Chelated iron supplement (easily absorbed)
  • Vitamin-C
  • B-vitamins or B-Complex: which comprises Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (niacin), Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), Folic acid, biotin and Vitamin B12 (cobalamins).
  • CoQ10 (coenzyme 10) for proper growth and development of follicles, especially if you are trying to conceive.

Foods To Alleviate Common Symptoms in the Luteal Phase

During the luteal phase, you may experience PMS symptoms such as:

  • Bloating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Changes in libido
  • Insomnia
  • Cravings

Foods that you can eat to reduce symptoms and balance your hormones include:

  • Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, radish, cauliflower and cabbage
  • Ground flaxseeds
  • Proteins
  • Healthy fats like avocados, nut butter, raw, unsalted nuts, flaxseed and olive oils.
  • Complex carbs like brown rice, buckwheat and quinoa
  • Low-sugar fruits with skin
  • Herbs and spices containing anti-inflammatory qualities like paprika, ginger, turmeric, garlic and sumac
  • Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that are useful in reducing PMS symptoms.

Luteal Phase Foods: How Growth Gals Can Help

At Growth Gals, we aim to inspire women to reach their full potential and exceed their expectations. We also strive to create positive change by giving women the tools and resources to discover their true selves and expand their knowledge base on women’s health.

Growth Gals helps women overcome obstacles and make informed decisions about phases of their menstrual cycle, including choosing the best luteal phase foods. We also help them connect with others with similar values and experiences and encourage them to live a healthy, authentic life.

Subscribe to the Growth Gals newsletter to gain access to even more helpful guides and resources for women, and to learn more about how we can support you and help you live your best life.


When cycle-syncing foods, you must know which foods to eat or avoid during the different phases of the menstrual cycle. In the luteal phase, your body prepares for pregnancy, and you need a lot of energy, magnesium, calcium, and other vitamin-rich foods. You must learn which foods to eat more of and which ones to avoid to reduce your PMS symptoms.  Determine what works for you, and your monthly cycle transitions will become easier.

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