Training Nutrition Periodisation

CATALYST DIETITIAN: Food for racing, resting, and everything in-between


Nutritional periodisation is the adjustment and fine-tuning of the diet and what a typical meal looks like based on specific exercise goals at any time during the year. It can also mean altering the types of foods and macronutrients at certain meal times to match a daily training schedule or a health related goal. Periodisation isn’t just for elite athletes either; in fact, those who can improve their body composition or race times the most stand to benefit the most.

Nutritional periodisation in sports is important to consider because training types differ greatly (think about an easy morning jog compared to a hard interval session) and the types of fuels used change based on those differences. Proper nutritional periodisation is like using different shoes for different runs; when you want to run long and slow you need a volume trainer with plenty of cushioning, just as you would need more energy (kilojoules) in. When you want to race you need a shoe that is light and flexible, just as you should prioritise less energy in and more carbohydrates for performance and speed.

At any level of distance running, from casual to elite, a proper nutrition plan will match the athlete’s training or lifestyle goal by taking into account the specific training block as prescribed by the coach or training plan. For instance, a runner who is in the offseason or is in a low volume block should have a diet that matches the lower energy output. This can be done by reducing the total amount of energy in to balance intake and output, and by moderately reducing carbohydrates as they aren’t needed in high amounts when training volume is low. A runner who is in the base block and is getting ready to train for a goal or race is usually doing the most total kilometres out of any training phase. This is the time when the potential to burn fat as an energy source is at its best, and so the diet should be relatively high in energy and can include relatively more healthy sources of fat compared to other times of the year. A runner who is nearing a race, typically called the race-specific or race-preparation phase, should have a training plan which focusses on intensity, and similarly, a diet which allows the best possible results from this. Energy intake can be reduced slightly if weight loss is a target, however a high carbohydrate intake should be the highest priority to ensure the body has all the fuel it needs to perform at its greatest aerobic capacity.

Nutritional periodisation can also help to reach lifestyle or exercise goals by matching a daily training schedule. Just as certain fuels can be prioritised at different times of the year, the diet can be modified to prioritise fat burning during low intensity periods of the day, or maximise carbohydrate availability for a higher intensity training session.

If you want to know more about how nutritional periodisation can help you reach your lifestyle or exercise goals, contact an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) and book in for a personalised plan.



To find out more about this topic, please get in touch with the team of Accredited Practising Dietitian’s at Catalyst Dietitian. See their website HERE or get in touch via email