Carbohydrate periodization

If you’ve been reading my past blogs, then you know that carbs are key for optimal performance. Carb requirements are not static. How much you require will change day to day depending on how much you training. As a general rule of thumb, on days when you are training less, your carb needs will also be less, whereas on days when you are training more, your carbs needs will be more. When I work with athletes, I determine the carb needs based on three things 1) amount of training performed 2) goals of that training 3) body weight. Based on these three factors, carb needs are going to vary day to day and also from athlete to athlete. As such, the carb recommendations I make are personalized to an athlete.

Below is an example of my carb intake for a day where I did an easy run of approximately 1 hr. I required about 330 grams of carbs (6 grams of carb/kg body weight).

Breakfast: 1 cup dry oats, 1 cup yogurt, ½ cup raspberries

Morning snack: Homemade muffin, 2 cups watermelon

Lunch: Chicken stir fry with 1 cup cooked rice, 1 apple

Afternoon snack: Fruit smoothie made with 1 banana, 1 cup strawberries, and 1 cup yogurt

Dinner: 10’ inch tortilla with ground turkey and spinach salad with ¼ cup fresh blueberries and ½ cup dried cranberries

Evening snack: 1 cup yogurt with 1 cup All-Bran

I distribute my carb intake evenly across my meals and snacks, using the “Athlete’s Plate Model” as a general reference. An important thing to note is that if you are trying to determine the carb content of the food you are eating, you must subtract the fibre content. Otherwise, you’ll be thinking that you are eating more carbs than you actually are. Fibre is a type of carbohydrate, but it is not broken down, so it can’t be used by the body for fuel. For instance, on the label below you will see that for 1 cup of this cereal there is 33 grams of carbohydrate and 3 grams of fibre. This means that there is 30 grams of available carbohydrate per cup of cereal. This is determined by subtracting the fibre from the total carbohydrate content listed.

A final point is the timing of carb intake, which I’m going to discuss more in my next blog. This is mainly determined by the second factor mentioned: the goals of that training. In some situations, an athlete may restrict carb intake to train in a state of low carbohydrate availability. This can be achieved many different ways, which I will highlight in next week’s blog.

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2020-09-16T16:48:16-04:00 September 16th, 2020|

About the Author:

Learn to fuel your health and performance with Megan Kuikman, Registered Dietitian. Megan provides professional nutrition advice that you can trust. To work with Megan, call: 519-802-9445 or e-mail megankuikmanRD@gmail.com.