Nutritional periodization is a dietary strategy that involves modifying nutritional intake to meet specific goals based on the different phases or periods of an athlete’s training or competition schedule. This approach involves adjusting the composition of the meal, nutrient timing, and quantity of food and nutrients based on an athlete’s training goals and competition schedule.
The concept of nutritional periodization is based on the idea that athletes will have different nutrient requirements during different phases of their training and competition schedule. However, because an athlete’s needs vary from sport to sport it is not always as easy as categorizing nutritional plans or phases based on an off-season, re-competition season, or competition season.
Adopting a nutritional periodization approach, in a way that allows individual athletes to both assess and optimize their nutrient intake to support their training goals and any point in their training schedule allows the athlete to focus more on their metabolic needs as those needs relate to their current training block.
There is also a need to allow athletes to easily access the nutrition plans they need based on the training plan they’re on.
With this approach, an athlete knows at any point the objective of their nutrition plan and what to expect from their ongoing assessments. Based on those assessments and the athlete’s adherence to the prescribed nutritional strategies of that phase, they can play an active role in pivoting their nutrition phase.
The overall purpose is to improve performance, reduce the risk of injury and illness, and maintain an ideal body composition. At no point should the goal to enhance performance negatively impact their immune function or overall health and well-being.
Restore Phase: The goal of the Restore Phase is often to establish a nutritional baseline and restore the body’s overall health and well-being. The Restore phase may occur early in an athlete’s off-season or transition period for reduced training intensity. During this phase, individuals consume a slight surplus of calories with an emphasis on nutrient-dense foods to support recovery and restore metabolic function. The restore phase is often a great place to start if an individual has been dieting for an extended period of time.
Build Phase: The Build Phase will vary among athletes based on the specific goals they have at that time. The build phase is often used by athletes who wish to increase body weight or muscle mass. Training programs that are focused on athletic performance or building muscle will often recommend nutrition plans categorized in the build phase. During a build phase, the goal is to optimize nutrient intake to support muscle building and strength gains. The nutrition plans categorized in this phase will most likely recommend an increase in calories with a diet high in protein and quality carbohydrates to support muscle growth.
Cut Phase: The Cut Phase will vary based on both the length of time in a caloric deficit and athletic performance needs. The goal of any nutrition program in a Cut Phase is to reduce body fat and optimize body composition. Nutrition Plans in the Cut Phase will often recommend a reduced caloric intake and increased protein intake to support muscle retention while reducing body fat. In addition to increasing protein, a Cut Phase will most often increase dietary fat intake while also reducing overall carbohydrates.
Reverse Phase: The Reverse Phase is similar in purpose to the Restore Phase, however, will occur during periods of intense training or competition. The goal is to support recovery and transition into a calorie surplus without gaining unwanted body weight or increasing body fat composition. All nutrition plans in the Reverse Phase focus on consuming a balanced diet with an emphasis on nutrient-dense foods to support recovery, reduce inflammation, and maintain muscle, while also maintaining body weight and body fat composition. All nutrition plans used in the Reverse Phase are intended to promote weight management and support metabolic function.
The Keys to Nutritional Change
Learn the key strategies to gradually adopt a healthier eating regimen and seek out improved alternatives for your preferred food choices. [Read more…]