Posted by: Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes | August 24, 2009

10 Big Nutrition Mistakes #8: NOT Periodizing Your Eating Habits

You’ve probably heard of periodization before.  It is a frequently discussed training concept based on the idea that athletic performance is maximized by dividing an annual training plan into specific time blocks where each block has a particular objective and provides the body with different types of stress.  I have posted several articles that describe the periodization process, specifically as it relates to cycling (Improve Your Cycling Performance with Periodization: Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3, and Periodization Tips for Cyclists).  However, you may not be familiar with the concept of periodization as it applies to nutrition.   Simply stated, nutrition periodization is about modifying your eating habits based on the volume and intensity of your training regimen at a given time of the year.  This is especially important for competitive athletes because your training changes throughout the year.  For instance, as a competitive cyclist, I am coming to the end of the racing season.  For the past 4 months I have been engaged in very high intensity training and racing.  This requires the ingestion of high amounts of calories, primarily in the form of carbohydrates.  This includes lots of high glycemic carbohydrates before, during and after sessions to facilitate the recovery process.  About one month from now, the cycling season will be over and my cycling volume and intensity will decrease for awhile.  If I continue to eat the same volume of food, I will put on a lot of weight!  Nutrition periodization recognizes the need to make dietary modifications throughout the year.  To get started, simply think about how your nutritional needs may change from one part of the year to another.  During a competitive season you will need more calories.  Once that season is over and you are recovering from all of your hard work, you will need significantly fewer calories.  When you start to ramp up your training in preparation for the next competitive season your caloric needs will increase.  Keep in mind that this is easier said than done.  It’s not easy to change eating habits, but it is necessary if you want to maximize your performance.

NEXT POST – August 31, 2009

10 Big Nutrition Mistakes #9: Trying to Lose Weight During the Competitive Season

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