Periodizing Nutrition: Part 3 - Specified Phase

In part 1 and part 2 of this series of posts, I spoke about how I structure my nutrition when my targets are rest, low volume, and peak base. This post will describe how I periodize my nutrition during the specific phase in my training.

During this phase there are two main targets. These targets are a combination of aerobic threshold and higher shorter intensity workouts. Since I am training for ultramarathon distance races the more specific of these two targets is aerobic threshold. However, I think they are both important in maximizing running economy; especially when coupled with the terrain you will race, so I don't neglect either. I typically do the higher shorter intensity work a bit earlier in this phase than I would if I were training for something shorter like a 5-10 kilometer race, and lean heavier on the aerobic threshold work as I get close to the taper and race day.

These two targets resemble the highest intensity phases of my training. With these intensities in place it isn't uncommon that I hit 20 hours of total training (running specific workouts, strength and mobility work). This is the phase where my nutrition hits its highest level of carbohydrate intake. As I mentioned in my first post, I don't demonize carbohydrates, but rather view them as a tool. A tool with a margin of diminishing returns when weighing out the benefits of hard work, recovery, and longevity. This is the area most critical in terms of looking at lifestyle variance as I personalize my Dr. Volek personalized atkins protocol.

My macronutrient ratios continue to have a base in fat as fuel. This means that despite the increase in carbohydrate intake when hitting these targets fat will still be my primary source of macronutrient intake.

From my experience, timing is important for this phase. Hitting the carbohydrates at the right time and in the right quantity allow me to maintain metabolic flexibility. A fat burning machine with the capability of utilizing carbohydrate efficiently when needed during high intensity work, and when hitting the gas during a race.

The macronutrient framework during this phase is approximately 15-30% carbohydrate, 10-20% protein, and 50-75% fat. This framework has a bit more range than the previous two target phases. The reason being is there are more variables being addressed.

Days where I am pushing the hardest are typically in close proximity of the times where I reach my highest carbohydrate intake. Days in which I am recovering from the higher intensity workouts are close in proximity to times in which my protein and fat hit the higher ranges in this framework.

I always aim to include a fatty source of fuel along with any of the concentrated sources of carbohydrates during this phase. I want to continue to encourage my body to maintain a sense of fat as being the primary fuel.

Similar to my experience during the peak base phase of training, I have experimented with a variety of different frameworks of macronutrient intake. This is the one that has routinely provided me the right balance of consistent energy and the ability to reach higher gears. It is individual to me and I have worked with people who have found variance in what they personally need. There are many variable to consider both inside and out of the training itself. People all have a unique set of stressors that need to be considered when weighing in all the variables of life.

When working on these targets I am able to get a bit more liberal on what carbohydrate choices I make. Typically, I'll keep the concentrated carbohydrate choice from my peak base phase in place, but add a couple new options, such as cooled organic red potatoes, apples, and on occasion some from the fourth macronutrient; red wine or whisky.

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, red potato (cooled), granny smith apple, berries, melon, fermented organic non-GMO corn.

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