Taking on the right nutrition can have a big impact on your performance. Some athletes will add (or reduce) certain macronutrients in their weekly training programme to match the effort they put in. It’s known as ‘periodised nutrition’ or ‘fuelling for the work required’ and can be a great way to help improve your performance.
Fuelling for the work required
Simply put, this is an athlete’s carbohydrate intake manipulated day to day (or even meal to meal) to match their training. It’s further defined as “CHO availability being adjusted in accordance with the demands of the upcoming training session(s)/competitions (Impey, et al. 2018). So, the quantity of carbohydrate in your meals is adjusted to suit your training schedule – some meals will be high carb, others will be low carb. It all depends on your needs as an athlete. For example, one day you might have a double training session which requires high amounts of carbohydrate. And then later in the week you might have a rest day, so you’ll need less in your diet. The main advantages of fuelling for the work required are:
- Maintaining or changing body composition
- Optimising performance
- Adaptations to exercise
“Some meals will be high carb. Others will be low carb – it all depends on your needs as an athlete.”
For many athletes, it’s important to maintain an optimal power to weight ratio, so that their body is in shape without running a deficit of energy. If your carbohydrate intake is controlled and periodised to complement your training schedule (varied depending on whether you are in a high intensity, low intensity, or rest phase), you can maintain your target weight without sacrificing performance.
Protein can also be periodised
Maintaining adequate protein levels for athletes is essential for muscle protein synthesis as well as recovery from intense and strenuous sessions. However, a player may need (or want) to reduce body composition levels and increase lean muscle mass. So they might increase their daily protein intake and reduce their carbohydrate levels on lower intensity training days. This is just another example of how nutrition can be periodised based on goals.
Impey, S. G., Hearris, M. A., Hammond, K. M., Bartlett, J. D., Louis, J., Close, G. L., & Morton, J. P. (2018). Fuel for the Work Required: A Theoretical Framework for Carbohydrate Periodization and the Glycogen Threshold Hypothesis. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 48(5), 1031–1048. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-018-0867-7