Nutrition Periodization

Today we have a guest blog post from Elizabeth (Beth) Mansfield, MSc, RD. Beth is a Registered Dietitian, CSEP-Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist and sport nutrition specialist. Through her company Peak Performance ( she specializes in bridging the gap between the sciences of nutrition and exercise and the practices of healthy eating and active living.

Beth integrates sport nutrition into training programs for athletes competing at the international, national, provincial, regional levels. She is currently working on her PhD at McGill University to answer the question: Does exercise  attenuate age related weight gain in vigorously active women?

Periodize Your Nutrition To Meet Your Monthly Training Goals

Are you physically and mentally prepared for your sport but nutritionally challenged? If so, you need to take a serious look at your nutrition and put some structure into your eating. The most successful endurance athletes pay attention to nutritional details, including

  • Adequate hydration and electrolyte replacement;
  • A diet of whole foods (not supplements), emphasizing vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes and low fat sources of protein rich foods;
  • Timing of pre and post workout snacks and meals;
  • Using optimal foods and fluids throughout training and competition situations; and
  • Periodizing their nutrition to meet their monthly training goals.

Nutrition periodization is meant to provide your body with the needed amounts of nutrients and fluids at the right times throughout the different cycles of your training program. You will have slightly different nutrient needs based on matching the nutrient needs of each cycle.

Here are some nutrition principles that you can apply year round:

  1. Eat more vegetables – include one cup of leafy green veggies (broccoli, kale, spinach, swiss chard, beet greens) and ½ cup of bright orangey red veggies (squash, peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots) every day.
  2. Kick start your refueling and enhance tissue repair by using protein rich foods (e.g. milk, yogurt, legumes, nuts/seeds, meat, poultry, fish and eggs) as part of your post work refueling plan.
  3. Take advantage of nutrient timing – earlier is better for refueling. Consuming water, carbohydrate and protein rich foods as soon as possible following exercise enhance their uptake and delivery.
  4. Reset your biochemical balance and get post workout inflammation under control by including Omega-3 fats (e.g. flax seed, micro-encapsulated fish oils available in yogurts and fruit juices), and flavonoids (in brightly colored berries, fruit juices, and apples) daily.
  5. Meet with a registered dietitian ( who specializes in sports nutrition for endurance athletes when you feel that you need a more comprehensive eating plan or you seek more knowledge about nutrition.

Beth will be posting regularly in this space about food, nutrition and fuelling. Be sure to visit her website and to follow her on Twitter.