The seasons change and the trees use more or less water. Winter approaches and bears gorge on salmon to sustain hibernation. As our environment changes so do our nutritional needs. For years fitness experts and trainers have been periodising training programmes to meet the demands of each sporting season and ensure maximal performance at critical points. Our diets should be tailored to suit these changes in training duration and intensity too. Naturally as our training load changes so too should our fuel. Similarly as our goals for each point in the season change so our diet should adapt.
Off season is essentially a time for sportsmen to hibernate, keeping moderately active and recovering from competition. Our nutritional needs change as our requirements drop during this period. We don’t want to lose sight of things too much however or pre season training becomes that much more difficult.
Preseason training may involve a rapid change to an increase in training intensity and volume. Whether our preseason goals involve a change in body composition or merely an improvement in physiological state or fitness, our nutrition should help us achieve these changes and facilitate recovery during this time period. This is also a good time to experiment with nutritional strategies such as new products, timing of intake etc that you can carry over into competition. Don’t wait for your first race or match to try something new. Train the way you play.
The competition period requires our diet to change again to meet training demands and the recovery time available in between competition or training sessions. We want to be in peak condition and maintain this for as long as possible, returning to this point as quickly as possible after each session or any injury. Recovery nutrition is the most crucial here with a focus on carbohydrate and protein timing without jeopardising your baseline intake.
Periodisation in a nutshell involves tweaking the macronutrient (carbohydrate, protein and fat) distribution of your diet and altering the timing of intake of these nutrients to meet the goals at each stage. Don’t think that a one size fits all approach will work. Stay flexible and get some guidance from those specialising in the field.