Complement your training cycles by "periodizing" what you eat based on Terrapins strength coach Barry Kagan’s conditioning plan.
You might think that you’re eating adequately to support your training needs, but you may not be eating the right nutrients at the right times—a concept I call “nutrition periodization.” The idea is to eat to support your training program, so it is as effective as possible in getting you bigger, faster and stronger. As you begin each conditioning cycle, what and how much you eat should change significantly—particularly when you transition into the season.
The early-summer portion of Kagan’s plan focuses on improving your aerobic fitness. Throughout this cycle, stay well hydrated by drinking about 20 ounces of fluid three to four hours before practice and another 10 ounces one hour before.
Make sure you also consume moderate amounts of carbohydrates and protein and low amounts of fat. And rather than eating a few gigantic meals, eat every three to four hours so you have a steady intake of calories. Here’s how it can break down:
Breakfast: Whole grain cereal with skim milk, raisins and a banana
Snack: Apple and string cheese
Lunch: Turkey sandwich on rye bread, lettuce, tomatoes, mustard and pickles; apple; Triscuit crackers
Snack: Banana with peanut butter
Dinner: BBQ chicken breast; broccoli; brown rice, skim milk
Around mid-summer, your training will shift to shorter, more intense workouts to build your anaerobic threshold. Integrate a sports drink into these grueling sessions to load your body with more carbohydrates and electrolytes. On higher intensity days, eat antioxidant-rich foods, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Also consume additional carbohydrates, because you need more fuel for your muscles due to the intensity of workouts. If you intend to spend more time in the weight room, increase your protein intake, but still eat a modest amount of fat. Your daily eating guide during this anaerobic training can include:
Breakfast: Omelet with tomatoes, bell peppers and cheese; whole grain toast with jam; 100 percent OJ
Snack: Skim milk and fruit smoothie [add non-fat milk powder for extra calories and protein] Lunch: Chicken fajitas with avocado; brown rice; kiwi
Snack: Mixed nuts [e.g., walnuts, almonds, cashews] Dinner: Pasta with chicken, mixed vegetables and olive oil; skim milk; fruit cobbler dessert
Right before the season starts, training becomes less rigorous, allowing your body to rest before entering the toughest season—game season. Keep hydration a part of your nutrition plan, and consume a moderate amount of carbohydrates and protein, but less fat. You won’t need as many calories during this milder training cycle, and eating too much can lead to unnecessary weight gain. Try the following sample meals:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with skim milk, frozen blueberries and banana
Lunch: Salad with tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers and chicken strips; orange
Dinner: Salmon with lemon and dill; mixed vegetables; quinoa
Bob Seebohar is the author of Nutrition Periodization for Endurance Athletes: Taking Traditional Sports Nutrition to the Next Level. Contact Bob at email@example.com or fuel4mance.com