Fuel For A Full-Throttle Season
Now is the best time to examine your nutrition program and make sure it will optimally support your training.
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The Big Picture
As goal events approach, many folks who are following structured, periodized training programs are moving from a Preparation Period to a Specialization Period. The nature of training shifts from longer intervals targeted at increasing sustainable power, to shorter, very-intense intervals designed to address race-specific demands. The number of training races or hard group rides tends to rise, and the overall intensity of a week?s worth of training increases over past months?.
When you start to spend a higher proportion of your training time at higher intensity levels, you?re changing the demands placed upon your energy systems, and as a result, the fuels you?re burning for energy. When you were out doing long, moderate-paced rides in the early spring, you were burning a pretty balanced mixture of carbohydrate and fat, with a little protein thrown in for good measure. While those workouts improved the power output your aerobic system can support, the harder workouts that lead to racing success demand energy faster than your aerobic system can deliver it.
To meet the demands of your harder workouts, your sleek and efficient aerobic system has to call upon the body?s version of the Hummer: the very powerful but gas-guzzling anaerobic system. In terms of fuel efficiency, the human anaerobic system even makes an M1 Abrams tank look good. As you go from moderate to maximum intensity, the rate at which you incinerate carbohydrate stores can increase fivefold. With that in mind, it?s easy to see how transitioning to the harder workouts, faster group rides, and races that characterize the Specialization Period increases the total amount of carbohydrate you utilize for fuel, and hence the amount of carbohydrate you need in your diet.
When it comes to optimal performance, it?s not enough to just consume the same high-calorie, low-fat diet year-round. Such a nutrition program often means eating more than you need when training intensity is low, and yet not enough to perform at your best during the height of the season. Ensuring that athletes? carbohydrate intake and total calories progress alongside their training is the cornerstone of the Carmichael Nutrition Program (CNP), and I?ve found it to be very effective at eliminating portions of the year when energy intake and expenditure are significantly mismatched.
What The Big Picture Means For You
Increase Carbohydrate Consumption:
Carbohydrate is the fuel behind the high-speed, high-power efforts you rely on during intense training and competition, which is why it?s so important that you get the right amount. During the rest of the year, active individuals should consume between