Periodizing Nutrition: Part 1 - Rest and Low Intensity

A question a frequently get when discussing nutrition is, "how many carbs do you eat", or "what are your macronutrient ratios?" Much like training volume and intensity it depends. It depends greatly on my current training target. The way I like to preface an answer to this question is by explaining that it reflects my lifestyle at the moment. If I did the exact same workout everyday then the answer would be much more cut and dry, but when peaking for an A race this simply isn't the case for me. Some days I am training very hard and metabolizing 2-3 times my resting metabolic rate, while other days I am in complete recovery and doing very little physical activity. This amount of fluctuation in energy demand requires a variance in nutrition.

This series of posts on periodization of nutrition is my attempt to break down my training/lifestyle into various targets and explain how I address each of these targets nutritionally.

The first targets I am going to break down include; recovery or rest, and low to moderate volume base building.

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 portion of the year that include this target are after a race or heavy training block. This low intensity and relatively lower energy demands offers up an opportunity to also hit the reset button on fat adaptation. I view carbohydrate as a tool not a demonized food group. It is a tool used for massive amounts of energy demand and fine tuning the intense parts of training and racing. When I am not targeting these variables I don't require as much of this high octane fuel source. Rather, it behooves me to use these phases to remind my body that fat is a valuable and readily available fuel source. Although I never venture away from fat being my primary fuel source, this target area is when it hits its peak in ratio to carbohydrate.

These target times I refer to as Dr. Volek Keto or Personalized Atkins phases. If you are more curious about Personalized Atkins/Volek approaches I'd highly recommend listening to any podcast interviewing Dr. Dominic D'Agostino (my favorite one).

During this target period carbohydrate intake drops to 5 percent or less. Protein intake can vary between 10-30 percent, but more often than not is closer to 15-20 percent. This leaves fat intake between 65-85 percent. When I am really dialed in during this phase I try to keep the fat percent up near the higher range of 65-85 percent.

The length I stay in this target phase depends on the purpose. If it is after an A race, I might hang out in these ratios for 1-2 months depending on when I need to begin more specific training for my next race. Throughout my heavier training periods, I will sprinkle in a couple days of these ratios when taking an easy week after a big block of training.

There are so many options that can be chosen from in hitting even these more rigid ratios, but 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.

Dr. Volek Keto / Personalized Atkins Style Grocery List

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

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

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