How to fuel up your multi-sport tank (Part 1) by Ben Greenfield
Posted Feb 02 2009 10:44pm
Time to pull out some crazy long syllables.
Yes, that' s right, it' s time to talk about nutrition periodization. When
addressing nutrition, the word "periodization" refers to dividing your
yearly nutritional plan into several distinct segments that apply to daily,
weekly, or monthly cycles of training.
While there are many different ways
to put together your annual training plan, the basic idea behind nutrition
periodization is that your dietary habits should match your training habits,
which involves a bit more than a bigger bowl of ice cream after the really
Unfortunately, fueling your body for multi-sport training is not as simple
as fueling a car. With a car, you simply put fuel in the gas tank when
you' re running low or when you' re prepping for high mileage days. With
triathlon, however, you not only have several different physiological
systems, or "engines", that you' re fueling, but you also have three
different types of fuel: fat, protein, and carbs. The key to nutrition
periodization is to match the amount and timing of these three fuel types
with the volume and intensity of your training (which affect which "engine"
you' re using).
So you are essentially optimizing carbohydrate intake for glucose and
glycogen (my fancy name for "sugar") derived energy systems, optimizing
protein intake for lean muscle mass and immune system recovery systems, and
optimizing fat intake for long fuel source systems, physiological balance of
hormones and other fat dependent functions, like developing your brain
(that' s right, fat makes you smart).
The final key is to manage your body
weight (which ultimately affects your power:weight ratio) by adjusting your
total caloric intake on days or periods of physical inactivity. Sound
complicated? A little bit, but it can' t be any worse than dissembling and
cleaning your chain ring.
Let' s look at a few examples of NP (notice that I' m getting burnt out on
syllables and have quit typing the full words), using general terms to
describe each period of the multi-sport season.
This is the time of the season when you are laying down the groundwork of
aerobic conditioning. Workouts are typically long and intensity fairly low,
meaning that you' re using quite a bit of fat for fuel, and a good portion of
carbohydrates as well. Remember, the lower the intensity, the more fat is
used as a fuel for your "low-intensity engine", and the harder you work, the
more you turn to carbs as a fuel for your "high-intensity engine".
huge amount of speed and force work is taking place, and with this decreased
muscle repair demand, protein needs are lower (protein will be used to fuel
your "muscle-building engine"). A sample carbohydrate/protein/fat percentage
ratio might be about 50% carbs, 20% protein, and 30% fat. We' re not talking
about dragging a scale into the kitchen - just closing your eyes and imaging
no more than half of your day' s total intake coming from carbs.
* Please come back tomorrow for part 2: Build/Intensity/Preparation
Ben Greenfield is the Renaissance man of the sport of triathlon.
He' s a fast triathlete, a coach, a personal trainer, and much more more.
We recommend that you surf on over to www.bengreenfieldfitness.com, where he' s just released a very valuable podcast that talks about critters living in your gut. Yes, you heard right. Check it out, you don' t want to miss this one...