Periodized Nutrition for Endurance Athletes

Periodized Nutrition

Periodized nutrition is the best way to match our nutrition to our training goals.  Periodization: breaking something up into discrete blocks. We modulate intensity, volume, and frequency in our workouts. We should do the same with our nutrition. Periodization helps the athlete fit their nutrition to their goals and individual needs.

If you are reading this, you likely know the benefits of a ketogenic diet for health and longevity.  What many in the endurance field don’t know, you can get a performance boost too.  Periodized Nutrition is the best way to feel and perform your best.

Athletes like Zach Bitter and Romain Bardet breaking records using this approach.  I will let you in on a little secret.  They are still using carbs, but they are using them with precision. 

How would you like to use LEGAL performance enhancing drugs (PEDs)?  Timing your nutrition does that.  Matching your training with your nutrition will give you a performance boost.  Break your own records.  Keto-adapted athletes turn their body into the ultimate performance machine.

Periodized Nutrition Overview:

You will learn how to match your nutrition to each period of training.  This allows you to get the biggest health benefits and performance boost.

Periods of periodized nutrition:  

Prep, Base, Build, Peak, Race, and Transition

Prep Period:

2-6 weeks.  This is the start of your training season.  The training focus in training is to prepare the body for the upcoming training ahead.  The nutrition focus is training the body to use fat as its primary source of fuel.  All athletes, regardless of their goal, follow a full ketogenic diet during this period of training.  

Base Period:  

8-12 weeks.  The training focus is to establish appropriate fitness to build upon.  The nutrition focus starts to deviate depending on the athlete’s goals.  Athletes that have the primary goal of fat loss do not change their diet.  Athletes who have the primary goal of performance start adding in a small number of carbohydrates during training.  Performance focused athletes start testing types and quantities of carbohydrates to see what give them the best performance boost while training. 

Build Period:

6-10 weeks.  The training focus is to maintain volume and add in intensity.  Athletes with fat loss goals start adding in carbohydrates during training.  They follow a ketogenic diet outside of training.  Athletes who have the primary goal of performance start adding in a small number of carbohydrates outside of training and during training.  Performance and fat loss focused athletes start testing types and quantities of carbohydrates to see what give them the best performance boost. 

Peak Period:  

1 week.  The training focus during this period is getting ready to race. Intensity remains high and the volume decreases. Workouts are intense with generous recovery between workouts. The nutrition focus is lower the carbohydrates to increase insulin sensitivity. All athletes follow a ketogenic diet on rest days. This primes the body in preparation for race day or race days.

Race Period:  

1 day – 2 weeks (depending on the sport).  This is the big day or days that you have been focusing on! Focus on what you love doing.  The nutrition on race day is exactly what you practiced in the Build and Peak Period.  All athletes consume carbohydrates according to what they performed best at. You may perform best with no added carbohydrates or someone who needs 300+ grams. It doesn’t matter what the number is, the important part is that you have found out what works best for you.

Transition Period:

1 – 4 weeks.  This is the period of time where you allow the body to rest and recover.  The training focus should be relaxed and unstructured.  Any activity should be low intensity and low volume.  The nutrition focus is to put the body in a fat burning state.  All athletes revert back to a ketogenic diet.

Periodized Nutrition Summary:

Periodizing your nutrition is important for your optimal performance. Having a framework to follow allows you to figure out what works best for you.  It is an individual process.  Having a process and method for testing will allow you to figure out your optimal formula.  This will give you the opportunity to perform your best on race day.
I have had the great fortune to work with Peter Defty, creator of the Optimized Fat Metabolism Program (OFM). The book The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance by Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney highlights many athletes that Peter worked with directly. 
The periods in training match the Annual Training Plan in TrainingPeaksJoe Friel regularly reference the work of Tudor Bompa in regards to a linear periodized training plan. I have applied what I have learned to help my clients to help them achieve amazing results. I am sharing the information with you in order for you to perform your best.

Additional Resources:

If you are like me, you probably want to spend more time geeking out on the subject.  Check out these additional resources to becoming a fat burning machine.

Race Day Fueling for Multi-Stage or Multi Day Events

The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance by Drs. Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney

Zach Bitter’s Blog

Optimized Fat Metabolism by Peter Defty

Ketogenic Diet for Endurance Athletes

KetoEndurance Home Page

Thank you for reading!  To your health!

Coach Stephanie:)

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