The BEST Follicular Phase Foods, Recipes + Tips for Hormone Balance (2024)

If you’re a woman in your reproductive years, your body goes through four distinct hormonal fluctuations every month (also known as the four phases of your menstrual cycle).

These changes affect literally everything else going on in our bodily systems and biology, from our energy levels to our metabolism to our body temperature and brain function….and each shift relies on specific macro and micronutrients to support it.

This is why food is such a powerful tool, as it not only powers hormone production and regulation, but can make all the difference in how we feel and experience each phase of our menstrual cycle as a result, ultimately helping us mitigate and completely reverse hormonal imbalance symptoms such as pms, period pain, fertility challenges, weight gain, bloat, fatigue and acne.

While eating a wide variety of nutrients to support each phase of the menstrual cycle is important, I love focusing on the follicular phase, as it’s truly a “fresh start” and opportunity to influence how you feel the entire rest of the cycle.

So let’s get started, with the most delicious follicular phase foods and recipes to help you naturally balance your hormones and feel your best. Snag all of the details below!

NEED A CYCLE SYNCING PLAN WITH DELICIOUS RECIPES TO BALANCE HORMONES? CHECK OUT MY28-DAY HORMONE BALANCE RESET PLAN.


WHAT IS THE FOLLICULAR PHASE?

The follicular phase is one of the four phases of a menstrual cycle. It starts the first day after your period ends and typically lasts 7 -10 days, when your ovaries begin ripening an egg in preparation for ovulation.


WHAT HAPPENS DURING THE FOLLICULAR PHASE

At the start of the follicular phase, your pituitary gland releases a hormone called follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). FSH stimulates the follicles (which contain a woman’s eggs) in one of the ovaries to mature. In response, the pituitary gland then starts to release luteinizing hormone, or LH, which is responsible for ovulation. Under normal circ*mstances, only one of these follicles will “ripen” and become mature.

At the beginning of the follicular phase, estrogen and testosterone levels are typically low, then slowly ramp up during this phase. As this happens, you’ll begin to experience a boost in energy, mood, and brain skills. You’ll start to feel more confident, powerful, and willing to take more risks. Testosterone starts to stimulate your libido, while also making you feel a bit bolder.

As ovulation approaches, the uterine lining thickens in preparation for pregnancy. The cervix remains low and closed, but gradually opens and starts producing wetter quality cervical fluid, designed to help sperm travel and survive the long journey to the egg.

BENEFITS OF EATING FOR YOUR FOLLICULAR PHASE

Consuming specific macro and micronutrients during your follicular phase works to support cyclical hormonal fluctuations, helping your body keep rising estrogen levels in check and providing it with the energy it needs as it prepares to release an egg. Not only that, but it lays the foundation to optimize your biology for the phases that follow, mitigating uncomfortable symptoms and empowering you to feel your best the rest of your menstrual cycle, leading to specific benefits including:

+ Optimized Ovulation (fertility boost)

+ Fertile Cervical Fluid (fertility boost)

+ Boost Gut Health/Digestion

+ Effective Estrogen Metabolism

+ Reduce Acne & Skin Issues

+ Prevent PMS and Period Pain

+ Decrease Bloat/Constipation

+ Support A Healthy Metabolism

+ Increase in Fat Burning/Natural Weight Loss


BEST FOODS TO EAT DURING YOUR FOLLICULAR PHASE

Due to the hormonal and biological fluctuations that take place during our follicular phase, it’s important to consume plenty of nutrients that support egg maturation, uterine lining growth, healthy liver function, effective estrogen metabolism and optimized gut health. See below for specific nutrient requirements, as well as the foods rich in said nutrients. *You’ll notice many of these foods overlap in nutrient categories, with multiple benefits to consuming!

+ Healthy Fats

During our follicular phase it’s crucial to consume healthy fats, as they help to provide our body with adequate energy to develop and release a follicle (necessary for ovulation to occur and a healthy menstrual cycle). Additionally, Omega-3 Fatty Acids have been show to regulate FSH, which if too high can result in complications including PCOS. Some optimal healthy fats for your follicular phase include:

  • + Avocado

  • + Olives/olive oil

  • + Nuts & Seeds

  • + Wild Caught Salmon

  • + Sardines

  • + Cod Liver Oil

  • + Eggs

+ Cruciferous Vegetables

During the follicular phase, estrogen levels naturally rise in order to to thicken your uterine lining in preparation for a potential pregnancy. While estrogen production is important during this phase, excess levels can lead to uncomfortable symptoms later on in your cycle such as period pain, pms, mood swings, weight gain, bloat and depression. Consuming cruciferous vegetables assists your body in safely eliminating any excess estrogen in order to keep levels in check and symptoms at bay the remainder of your cycle. Some optimal cruciferous vegetables to consume in your latter follicular phase and during ovulation include:

  • + Broccoli

  • + Cauliflower

  • + Cabbage

  • + Kale

  • + Brussels Sprouts

  • + Bok Choy

  • + Watercress

  • + Arugula

+ Liver Supportive Foods

The liver plays a key role in detoxing estrogen, as it is tasked with repackaging any leftover estrogen not used by the body into an intestinal-friendly form that can exit the body via our bowels. If we have a sluggish, overburdened liver, the estrogen can sit in our intestines for too long and become reabsorbed, circulating the body and leading to excess estrogen. Thus it’s important to support optimal liver function, especially during our follicular and ovulatory phases when estrogen peaks. Some optimal liver supportive foods include:

  • + Raw Carrot

  • + Beets

  • + Green Asparagus

  • + Dandelion Greens

  • + Broccoli Sprouts

  • + Cruciferous Veggies

  • + Citrus

  • + Leafy Greens

  • + Onion

  • + Garlic

  • + Turmeric

+ Vitamin C Rich Foods

Oxidative stress in our body tends to be high during our follicular phase, right before ovulation, so eating a colorful, well-rounded diet rich in vitamin c-loaded foods help to fight off free-radicals and support detoxification. Some optimal vitamin C rich foods to incorporate into your follicular phase include:

  • + Citrus

  • + Bell Peppers

  • + Berries

  • + Tomatoes

  • + Papaya

  • + Cruciferous Veggies

+ Fermented + Probiotic Rich Foods

Fermented and probiotic-rich foods work to support our gut health , which also supports our estrobolome, a unique set of bacteria in our gut that specifically works to break down estrogen and eliminate it safely via the bowels. And you guessed it, one of the most impactful ways to help your gut with this important, hormone balancing task is through the consumption of fermented and probiotic rich foods, such as:

  • + Kimchi

  • + Sauerkraut

  • + Pickled Veggies

  • + Full-Fat Greek/Coconut Yogurt

  • + Organic, Non-GMO Miso

  • + Organic, Non-GMO Tempeh

+ Fiber Rich Foods

One of the best ways to support estrogen elimination is by consuming enough dietary fiber, which helps flush excess estrogen safely via our bowls. Fiber helps draw water into the colon, adding bulk and softness to your stool, helping it pass more smoothly through the digestive tract and increasing transit time (aka bye bye constipation and bloat!) Some optimal fiber-rich foods to consume during your follicular and ovulatory phase include:

  • + Cruciferous Veggies

  • + Leafy Greens/Green Vegetables

  • + Artichokes

  • + GF Grains (quinoa, oats, millet, rice)

  • + Lentils

  • + Peas

  • + Berries

  • + Avocado

  • + Chia Seeds

+ Magnesium Rich Foods

Magnesium is a mineral that plays a key role in sex hormone production and regulation, working to increase progesterone levels to support healthy ovulation and balance out estrogen to progesterone ratios by supporting phase 2 estrogen elimination. Magnesium deficiency is also very common as lifestyle factors like chronic stress as well as caffeine and sugar consumption deplete it. Consuming magnesium-rich foods during your follicular and ovulatory phase (as well as the entirety of your menstrual cycle) will help to balance hormones and reduce uncomfortable symptoms. Below are a few of my favorite food sources:

  • + Nuts and Seeds

  • + Leafy Greens

  • + Tuna

  • + Shellfish

  • + Dark Chocolate

+ Phytoestrogens *If You Don’t Have Estrogen Dominance*

Phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds that mimic the body’s natural estrogen production. While you wouldn’t want to consume these if you have estrogen dominance, they can be beneficial to consume at the beginning of the follicular phase, when estrogen is lowest. If you don’t have problems with excess estrogen, below are the phytoestrogens I recommend consuming during your follicular phase:

  • + Flax Seeds

  • + Pumpkin Seeds

  • + Organic Non-GMO Soy Products


FOLLICULAR PHASE DIET + EATING TIPS

+ Incorporate More Fresh + Raw Foods

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) your follicular and ovulatory phases are “hot” phases of your cycle as your resting body temperature naturally rises. Opting for more fresh, raw vegetables and fruits during this phase (think leafy green salads, smoothies, crudités, fresh berries, etc.) have a natural cooling effect on the body, along with promoting optimal vascular support for your ovaries to create the healthiest egg possible due to the high level of antioxidants.

+ Try A Raw Carrot Salad

Speaking of raw foods, incorporating a raw carrot salad into your follicular and ovulatory phase routine can be an awesome way to support your body in safely eliminating excess estrogen via our bowels (thanks to a unique dietary fiber). It also contains anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that work to support optimal gut health. You can grab my favorite raw carrot salad recipes here.

+ Look Into Seed Cycling

The practice of rotating four different seeds (pumpkin, flax, sesame and sunflower) between the first and second half of our cycle phases alleges toregulate our hormones, therebyhelping to relieve PMS, reduce period pain,stimulate ovulation,increase fertilityand support the body in healing conditions such asPCOSandendometriosis. You canlearn more about seed cycling in this post.

+ Add in Probiotic + Herbal Support

Incorporating a high quality probiotic supplement into your daily routine is an easy and beneficial way to support optimal gut health (this is the probiotic I’ve been taking for three years, use code SOFRESH15 to save) while adding in herbs such as nettle, oat straw and peppermint work to balance out estrogen levels, replenish minerals lost during the menstrual phase and balance out androgen levels (helps with acne) respectively. My favorite way to consume these herbs is via tea.


BEST FOLLICULAR PHASE RECIPES + MEAL IDEAS

Best Follicular Phase Breakfast Recipes

+ Gut Healthy Papaya Boat

+ Coconut Mango Chia Pudding

+ High Protein Carrot Cake Overnight Oats

+ Protein Packed Breakfast Bowl

+ Blended Overnight Oats (3 Ways!)

+ Healthy Copycat Wendy’s Frosty

+ Healthy Shamrock Protein Shake

+ Strawberries N’ Cream Parfait

+ Maca Fertility Smoothie

+ Dark Chocolate Avocado Fertility Smoothie

+ Better Than Botox Green Smoothie

+ Dark Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie Bowl

+ Strawberry Rhubarb Cheesecake Baked Oatmeal

+ Gut-Friendly Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal

+ Cherry Chia Pudding Parfait

+ Summer Berry Baked Oats + Coconut Whipped Cream

+ Easy Cinnamon Spinach Blender Pancakes

+ Foolproof Chia Pudding Parfait

+ Green Baby Makin’ Machine Smoothie

+ Matcha Chocolate Chip Paleo Pancakes

+ Seed Cycling S’mores Granola

+ White Chocolate Macadamia Seed Cycling Granola

+ All Breakfast Recipes From Phase #2 of The Hormone Balance Reset Plan

Best Follicular Phase Dinner + Lunch Recipes

+ Farm Salad + Honey Lemon Herb Vinaigrette

+ Greek Chicken Quinoa Salad Bowls

+ Hormone Balancing Roasted Chipotle Cauliflower Tacos

+ Grilled Chicken + Veggie Chimichurri Bowls

+ Turkey Avocado Burgers (a family favorite!)

+ BLTA Caesar Salad Bowls

+ Raw Carrot Salad For Hormone Balance

+ Salmon Pesto Pasta

+ Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup

+ Avocado Green Curry + Vegetables

+ Maple Soy Glazed Brussels Sprouts

+ Teriyaki Glazed Salmon

+ Gut-Friendly Paleo Butter Chicken + Cauliflower Rice

+ Maple Molasses Glazed Brussels Sprouts

+ Chickpea Pesto Pasta Salad

+ Watermelon Pistachio Mint Salad

+

+ Grilled Miso Salmon + Avocado Salad

+ Grilled Lamb Burgers + Harissa Aioli

+ Pesto Zucchini Noodle Bowls + Grilled Chicken

+ Heirloom Tomato, Nectarine + Basil Salad

+ Grilled Chicken Caesar + Avocado Salad

+ Next Level Grilled Artichokes

+ Honey Garlic Glazed Shrimp Bowls + Quick Cucumber Salad (Recipe Below)

+ All Dinner + Lunch Recipes From Phase #2 of The Hormone Balance Reset Plan

Best Follicular Phase Dessert + Snack Recipes

+ Healthy Copycat Butterfinger Blizzard

+ Healthy Copycat Butterfinger Bars

+ Viral High Protein Cottage Cheese Cookie Dough

+ Gut-Friendly Oreo Cookie Blizzard

+ Vegan Chocolate Avocado Mousse

+ Healthy Copycat Wendy’s Frosty

+ Gut-Friendly Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Blizzard

+ Healthy Peanut Butter Protein Bar Recipe

+ Grain-Free Dark Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Muffins

+ Fudgy Brownie Batter Hummus

+ Seed Cycling Dark Chocolate Fudge Truffles

+ Quick Summer Berry Tart

+ Paleo Peach Cobbler

+ Gut-Friendly Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

+ Carrot Cake Bliss Balls

+ Healthy Turmeric Deviled Eggs

+ Superfood Guacamole + Jicama Dipping Fries

+ Strawberry Rhubarb Chia Jam

+ Lemon Pie Dream Bars

+ Coconut Energy Balls

+ The Best Adrenal co*cktail Recipe

+ Creamy Lemonade Adrenal co*cktail

+ The BEST Sleepy Girl Mocktail

+ All Dessert + Snack Recipes From Phase #2 of The Hormone Balance Reset Plan


FOODS TO AVOID DURING YOUR FOLLICULAR PHASE

While I like to focus on adding in vs. taking away, limiting your intake of certain foods can work to support to hormones and therefore reduce uncomfortable symptoms. These are the top foods to limit/avoid during your follicular phase if possible.

+ Heavy, Rich Foods

Because our metabolism and digestion is slower during the first half of our menstrual cycle (follicular and ovulatory phases), eating an abundance of heavy, rich foods such as fried foods, casseroles, red meat, stews, processed baked goods and carbs (pastas, bread, etc.) can make us feel lethargic and slow down large intestine transit time (leading to constipation and bloat). Ultimately, you don’t need as many calories in this phase and will feel much better sticking to lighter meals and fresh, nutrient-rich foods easy to digest (see all listed above).

+ Too Much Caffeine/Alcohol

Over consuming caffeine and alcohol impacts your hormones in a myriad of ways (burdening our liver,altering our gut microbiome, depleting micronutrients, destabilizing blood sugar), most often leading to imbalances such asestrogen dominanceor adrenal dysfunction. If you can’t imagine giving either up (zero judgement here!) try to minimize/reduce your intake or experiment with swaps (half-caff, decaf,mocktails, etc.)


BOTTOMLINE

One of the most effective ways we can support our hormones (thereby reducing uncomfortable symptoms) is throughconsuming a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods based on where we’re at in our menstrual cycle. I always encourage clients to start small, focusing on 1-2 shifts (i.e. eating more salads and smoothies during your follicular phase, or switching a side of fries for fresh fruit/veggies, etc.) to avoid feeling overwhelmed and continue adding in more from there. When in doubt, tune into your body and what feels good, and I think you’ll find you naturally crave foods ideal for each phase.


MORE FOLLICULAR PHASE TIPS

+ Cycle Syncing Food Chart + Guide

+ Seed Cycling Chart, Recipes + Tips

+ Fertility Boosting Foods + Recipes

This post contains affiliate links. We may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links. Thank you for your support!

Honey Garlic Glazed Shrimp Bowls + Quick Cucumber Salad

DF

GF

VG

This insanely easy + delicious honey garlic glazed shrimp bowl is packed with nutrients specifically designed to help you balance your hormones during your follicular phase.

PREP TIME:

TOTAL TIME:

05 Mins

00:25 Mins

  • Author: Lauren Chambers

  • Servings: 4

  • Recipe Type: Entree, dinner, lunch, meal

  • Cuisine: Asian Inspired

Ingredients

For The Honey Garlic Glazed Shrimp:

  • 20 large (about 2 lbs) wild-caught shrimp, peeled + tails removed (I buy them frozen from Costco)
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos (or other gluten-free soy sauce)
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot powder (can sub cornstarch) to thicken
  • 1 tbsp grass-fed ghee
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt, pepper + chili flakes to taste

For the Quick Cucumber Salad:

For the Bowls:

  • Rice of choice (I prefer this kind) for base
  • Option to use diced green cabbage or romaine lettuce as base
  • Fresh mango, peeled and chopped
  • Green onion, diced
  • Fresh cilantro, diced
  • Black or white sesame seeds
  • Optional diced avocado or chopped peanuts
  • More salt + pepper + lime to taste

Instructions

  1. First, cook your rice according to instructions (this typically takes anywhere from 20-40 minutes, so you’ll want to make sure to do this in advance).
  2. While rice is cooking, whisk together all honey garlic glazed shrimp ingredients in a medium-sized bowl except the shrimp, ghee and garlic. Once well mixed, add in your peeled + deveined shrimp and let marinate 5-10 minutes.
  3. While shrimp is marinating, get started on your cucumber salad by whisking together the rice vinegar, honey, salt and sesame seeds together in a small bowl. Cut cucumber lengthwise down the middle and scoop out seeds, then shop into small “u” pieces. Toss in the dressing and set aside.
  4. Heat a large, stovetop pan over medium high heat and add in ghee and garlic. Cook for about a minute until ghee is melted and garlic is fragrant and sizzling, then add in the entire shrimp/sauce mixture.
  5. Stir frequently at medium high heat for 5-10 minutes, careful not to overcook. The sauce should be bubbling and thick and the shrimp should be pink, juicy and cooked through. Once cooked remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Assemble your bowls with rice as a base, adding a scoop of shrimp and glaze on top. Add cucumber salad plus any other desired toppings of choice and enjoy.

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