Periodizing Nutrition: Part 2 - Peak Base

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In the first post of this series I spoke about how I structure my nutrition during rest, low intensity, and relatively low volume. I broke down how my nutrition goals during those targets are structured.

This post is aimed at highlighting my approach to nutrition when moving into the peak phase of base training. In this phase I target hitting peak mileage, but retain a lower intensity. At times I hit training volume of upwards to 20 hours per week which includes running, strength work, and mobility work.

As I mentioned in the first post, my training targets change throughout the year based on the race(s) I am targeting. Hence, my nutrition isn't consistently the same throughout the year. Much like my energy demands and workout types.

Keep in mind that these numbers, training intensities, and volume are all specific to me. Lots of it has taken years of consistent training and experimentation with fueling.

The biggest change during this targeted phase in training is the volume. The target switches from the primary goal shifting from recovery towards building a strong base that can be leaned on when race specific workouts are later introduced.

Historically, during this phase I aim to average approximately 20 hours a week of running, strength work, and mobility work. My targets also include getting a lot of the volume into a more specific heart rate range. For me, this tends to be in the heart rate range of 140-155 beats per minute range, or a perceived effort of between 2-4 of 10. My experience has shown me that having a base at those intensities sets me up best for future race specific workouts.

These new training targets change my nutritional targets a bit. The foundation remains the same with a focus on Dr. Volek Keto / Personalized Atkins being the basic framework. The biggest change is accounting for the additional caloric demand I take on from the increase in volume. When adding more food to my daily intake, I sprinkle in a couple concentrated carbohydrate sources along with some additional fat and protein. It's not an extreme shift, as my primary fuel source remains fat, but I don't avoid concentrated carbohydrate altogether.

Timing of the concentrated carbohydrate is key during this phase. I tend to focus the majority of carbohydrates when I will have a string of days where my volume will be the highest. I do this is by including some concentrated carbohydrate sources into meals/snacks that also include fat and sometimes protein. Here are a couple examples:

Snack: coffee or yerba matte with coconut milk and raw honey

Sample Meal 1: eggs, sweet potato, clarified butter, spinach

Sample Meal 2: grass fed beef, sauerkraut, steamed broccoli, blueberries, raspberries

During this training phase my macronutrient intake shifts a bit. Since I have been doing this for nearly six years I can usually feel things out quite intuitively and I trust my body to tell me when I should drop in a bit of carbohydrate and when I can leave them out.

The macronutrient framework during this phase is approximately 10-15% carbohydrate, 10-20% protein, and 65-80% fat.

In the past, I've tried many other combinations of macronutrient intake during this phase from high carb to simply continuing the <5% carbohydrate approach in the first post. This is what I have found gives me consistent energy, speedy recovery, and deep quality sleep.

Here are a few of my favorite choices. I definitely eat a wider array of these types of foods, but this list reflects the foundation I enjoy, and will give a glimpse at what I target.

Peak Base Grocery List

Protein/Fat: grass fed beef, chicken (whole), liver (beef & chicken), salmon, rib-eye, eggs, uncured bacon

Protein/Fat/Carbohydrate: almonds, pumpkin seeds

Non-Starchy Vegetables: broccoli (florets & sprouts), spinach, arugula, beet leaves, cabbage (purple), cauliflower (purple), cucumber, sauerkraut, fermented carrots, fermented beets, kim chi

Fat: coconut oil, coconut milk, clarified butter, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, MCT oil

Carbohydrate: raw honey, sweet potato, berries, melon, fermented organic non-GMO corn.

Spices: himalayan pink sea salt, oregano, parsley, turmeric, garlic, black pepper, cinnamon