Periodized nutrition is the best way to match your nutrition to your running goals.  Periodization: breaking something up into discrete blocks. We modulate the intensity, volume, and frequency of our workouts. We should do the same with our nutrition. Periodization helps the athlete fit their nutrition to their goals and individual needs.

If you read this, you likely know the benefits of running for health and longevity.  Many endurance athletes don’t know you can get a performance boost, too.  Periodized Nutrition is the best way to feel and perform your best.

Athletes like Zach Bitter and Romain Bardet breaking records using this approach.  I will let you in on a little secret.  They are still using carbs, but they are using them with precision. 

How would you like to use LEGAL performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs)?  Timing your nutrition does that.  Matching your training with your nutrition will give you a performance boost.  Break your records.  Runners turn their bodies into the ultimate performance machine.

Periodized Nutrition Overview:

You will learn how to match your nutrition in each period of training.  This allows you to get the biggest health benefits and performance boost.

Periodized Nutrition - Eat Real Food
Periodized Nutrition – Eat Real Food

Periods of Periodized Nutrition:  

Periodized Nutrition
Periodized Nutrition

Prep, Base, Build, Peak, Race, and Transition

Prep Period:

2-6 weeks.  This is the start of your training season.  The training focus is to prepare the body for the upcoming training.  Nutrition focuses on training the body to use fat as its primary fuel source.  Regardless of their goal, all athletes follow a low-carbohydrate diet during this training period.  

Base Period:  

8-12 weeks.  The training focus is to establish appropriate fitness to build upon.  The nutrition focus starts to deviate depending on the athlete’s goals. 

Runners with the primary goal of fat loss do not change their diet.  Athletes with the primary goal of performance start adding in a small number of carbohydrates during training.  Performance-focused athletes start testing types and quantities of carbohydrates to see what gives them the best performance boost while training

Build Period:

6-10 weeks.  The training focus is to maintain volume and add intensity.  Runners with fat loss goals start adding in carbohydrates during training

They follow a ketogenic diet outside of training.  Athletes who have the primary goal of performance start adding in a small number of carbohydrates outside of training and during training. 

Performance and fat-loss-focused athletes start testing types and quantities of carbohydrates to see what gives them the best performance boost. 

Peak Period:  

1 week.  The training focus during this period is getting ready to race. The intensity remains high and volume decreases. Workouts are intense with generous recovery between workouts.

The nutrition focus is to lower the carbohydrates to increase insulin sensitivity. All athletes follow a ketogenic diet on rest days. This primes the body in preparation for race day or race days.

Race Period:  

1 day – 2 weeks (depending on the sport).  This is the big day or days that you have been focusing on! Focus on what you love doing. 

The nutrition on race day is exactly what you practiced in the Build and Peak Period.  All athletes consume carbohydrates according to what they perform best at.

You may perform best with no added carbohydrates or someone who needs 300+ grams. It doesn’t matter what the number is; the important part is that you have found out what works best for you.

Transition Period:

1 – 4 weeks.  This is the period of time where you allow the body to rest and recover.  The training focus should be relaxed and unstructured.  Any activity should be low intensity and low volume. 

The nutrition focus is to put the body in a fat-burning state.  All athletes revert back to a ketogenic diet.

Periodized Nutrition Summary:

Periodizing your nutrition is essential for your optimal performance for runners. A framework allows you to figure out what works best for you. 

It is an individual process.  Having a process and method for testing will allow you to figure out your optimal formula.  This will allow you to perform your best on race day.

I have had the great fortune to work with Peter Defty, the Optimized Fat Metabolism Program (OFM) creator. The book The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance by Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney highlights many athletes that Peter worked with directly. 

The periods in training match the Annual Training Plan in TrainingPeaksJoe Friel regularly references the work of Tudor Bompa regarding the linear periodized training plan. I have applied what I have learned to help my clients achieve excellent results. I am sharing the information with you so you can perform your best.


I would love to talk to you!

Need Help Adapting?

Additional Resources:

If you are like me, you probably want to spend more time geeking out on the subject.  Check out these additional resources to becoming a fat burning machine.

The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance by Drs. Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney

Ketogenic Diet for Endurance Athletes

Thank you for reading!  To your health!

Coach Stephanie:)

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