Kickstart Your Periodized Nutrition Plan

Jan 19, 2024

This article first appeared on the AGD Ready Blog on January 20, 2024.  

Kickstart Your Periodized Nutrition Plan

By Tactical Dietitian - Susan Lopez MS, RDN, CSSD, LD, TSAC*F

Nutrition talk often lends itself to only discussing calories and meal plans. This is a disservice not only to you, the tactical athlete, but also is insulting to performance nutrition itself.

The reality of what nutrition means in the world of performance is the difference between winning and losing. In the tactical world, your nutrition plays a role in your ability to go home each night.

As a tactical athlete, your performance is not just a product of intense training but also the result of energy available to express your physical potential - that’s the nutrition piece.

In this short article, let’s walk you through the essential steps to get started with your personalized periodized nutrition plan. This by no means is exhaustive as we will just be hitting on the broader definitions and items included with a periodized nutrition plan.

Defining Periodized Nutrition

Periodized nutrition involves tailoring your dietary intake to match the specific demands of different phases in your training cycle. It recognizes that your nutritional needs vary during periods of intense training, recovery, and performance evaluation.

In the unpredictable landscape of military life, mastering periodized nutrition is a strategic advantage. Whether adapting to the daily rigors of training, navigating weekly intensity variations, or tailoring nutrition to monthly training phases, the key is adaptability.

Aligning your nutrition periodization program with your strength and conditioning program is crucial for optimizing performance and achieving your goals.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to integrate these two elements effectively:

  1. Understand Your Training Phases:
  • Identify distinct phases in your strength and conditioning program. Common phases include hypertrophy, strength building, power development, and recovery. Even with a conjugate or concurrent training program you are likely going to be adjusting efforts during training cycles.
  1. Match Nutrition to Training Goals:
  • Hypertrophy Phase: Increase overall caloric intake with a focus on protein to support muscle growth. Moderate carbohydrate intake for sustained energy during workouts.
  • Strength Building Phase: Maintain a slight caloric surplus, emphasizing protein for muscle maintenance and repair. Adjust carbohydrate intake based on the intensity and volume of strength workouts.
  • Speed or Power Development Phase: Prioritize nutrient timing, especially around workouts, with an emphasis on carbohydrates to fuel explosive movements. Ensure sufficient protein intake for muscle support.
  • Recovery Phase: Adjust nutrition to facilitate recovery, focusing on protein and incorporating anti-inflammatory foods. Hydration is crucial during this phase.
  1. Macronutrient Adjustments:
  • Protein: Keep protein intake consistent throughout all phases to support muscle maintenance and recovery. This macronutrient is the one least likely to change drastically. Most athletes can suffice on 0.8 to 1.2 grams per pound of bodyweight.
  • Carbohydrates: Modify carbohydrate intake based on energy demands. Increase during phases with higher training volume and intensity, and decrease during lower-intensity phases or rest days.
  • Fats: Maintain a steady intake of healthy fats for overall health. Adjust quantity based on caloric needs during different training phases.
  1. Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition:
  • Pre-Workout: Tailor pre-workout meals to the specific demands of each training phase. Emphasize easily digestible carbohydrates and moderate protein for energy and muscle support.
  • Intra-Workout: Consider intra-workout nutrition, especially during high-intensity phases, with sources like sports drinks or energy gels for sustained energy particularly during efforts over 90 minutes.
  • Post-Workout: Prioritize post-workout nutrition to maximize recovery. Include a mix of protein and carbohydrates in the post-training meal or shake. The goal here is to enhance recovery by adequately replenishing glycogen, your body’s stored fuel source for moderate and high-intensity training.
  1. Hydration and Timing:
  • Hydration: Adjust fluid intake based on the intensity and duration of your workouts. Maintain proper hydration throughout the day, considering factors like sweat rate and environmental conditions.
  • Timing: Align nutrient intake with your training schedule. For example, consume a balanced meal or snack 1-2 hours before workouts and prioritize post-workout nutrition within 30-60 minutes after training.
  1. Monitor and Adjust:
  • Regularly assess your performance, energy levels, and recovery.
  • Be open to adjustments based on your body's response to the nutrition and training plan.
  • Consider working with a nutrition professional or dietitian for personalized guidance.
  1. Periodize Your Overall Plan:
  • Sync your nutrition periodization with the broader periodization of your strength and conditioning program.
  • Plan phases of higher and lower intensity in both training and nutrition to prevent burnout and optimize long-term progress.
  1. Recovery Emphasis:
  • Prioritize nutrition during recovery phases to enhance the body's ability to repair and adapt to the training stimulus.
  • Incorporate anti-inflammatory foods and supplements to support recovery.

By integrating your nutrition and strength and conditioning programs cohesively, you create a synergistic approach that maximizes your training adaptations and supports your overall goals. Adaptability and consistency are key, so continuously assess and adjust based on your unique needs and responses.

Interested in learning more? Follow @tactical.dietitian



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