Ta­per­ing Your Diet in the Off-sea­son

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - Training Nutrition - By Brooke Brown

“Macca,you need to be fat in July to win in Kona. You’re rac­eready all year! That ap­proach does not win Hawaii or sup­port ath­letic longevity.” That was the sage ad­vice of Mark Allen to Chris McCor­mack in 2005. Of course, Macca would go on to be crowned world cham­pion in 2007 and 2010. He has since ad­mit­ted that there are times of the year when ath­letes should be heav­ier to op­ti­mize re­cov­ery, stave off ill­ness and build strength, but he also un­der­scores that gain­ing and los­ing weight healthily ne­ces­si­tates proper ada­p­a­tion. So what to do now that win­ter has ar­rived, the race sea­son is over and train­ing vol­umes tend to be lower? How can we al­low for this pe­riod of re­cov­ery and avoid weight gain?

Many triath­letes con­fess, “I train to eat.” What we eat, how­ever, should sup­port our train­ing and not the other way around. While high-vol­ume train­ing, ath­letes of­ten feel jus­ti­fied in eat­ing what­ever and when­ever they want, as if the ad­di­tional daily calo­ries have no ef­fect on weight. The ba­sic weight equa­tion is in­escapable: calo­ries con­sumed must meet calo­ries ex­pended. As we move into the off­sea­son, ath­letes of­ten con­tinue con­sum­ing just as much as they did dur­ing their peak train­ing. Fur­ther­more, the off- sea­son cor­re­lates with fall and win­ter hol­i­day sea­sons and th­ese of­ten in­volve in­dul­gent foods and drink.

Con­sum­ing 500 calo­ries a day more than you are burn­ing equates to one ad­di­tional pound of body weight a week. This trans­lates to four pounds a month and a whop­ping 12 pounds over a three-month pe­riod. Imag­ine start­ing next sea­son hav­ing to carry around this added weight.

The Yo-Yo-ing of Body Weight

Even more prob­lem­atic than this weight gain is the drive to lose it too quickly, not al­low­ing the adap­ta­tion that Macca refers to. Sim­i­lar to weight fluc­tu­a­tions of yo-yo di­et­ing, large vari­a­tions in body mass may have a neg­a­tive ef­fect on health and per­for­mance. Achiev­ing an ideal body weight can help im­prove spe­cific ar­eas of your over­all health such as in­sulin sen­si­tiv­ity, lipid pro­file and blood pres­sure, as well as give you that ex­tra boost of con­fi­dence and self- es­teem. Main­tain­ing your weight in the off-sea­son will bring you closer to your long term goals and min­i­mize strain on bones and joints as you spring back into train­ing. In­stead of en­ter­ing the pre- sea­son bat­tling to shed ex­cess pounds, you should fo­cus on a strong foun­da­tion of aer­o­bic en­durance, mus­cu­lar strength and build­ing a re­silient body.

What Is Diet Pe­ri­odiza­tion?

Ev­ery­day eat­ing is the blue­print of vi­tal­ity for your long-term suc­cess. Most of you fol­low a train­ing plan, whether coached or self-trained. Like­wise your diet should be in line with the phases of your train­ing and your over­all pro­gram goals. A pe­ri­odized nu­tri­tion plan is one of the best ways to achieve this. Pe­ri­odiza­tion is a strat­egy that di­vides your train­ing year into spe­cific cy­cles with spe­cific goals, each re­quir­ing a dif­fer­ent mix of vol­ume and in­ten­sity, to get you in top shape for your key races. Your nu­tri­tion plan should be aligned with each phase of your train­ing sched­ule. There­fore, sig­nif­i­cantly less calo­ries are needed in your off-sea­son than when you are do­ing high mileage or are in your com­pe­ti­tion phase.

Eat Healthy. Be One-Step Ahead of the Game for Next Sea­son.

Train­ing for a triathlon cre­ates nutritional chal­lenges. In or­der to reap the ben­e­fits of train­ing, you must meet th­ese chal­lenges head on. Nu­tri­tion can help you to achieve your op­ti­mal per­for­mance and with the right eat­ing plan your in­vest­ment in train­ing will be fully com­pen­sated.

En­joy the off-sea­son. Make good choices, eat healthy and tran­si­tion back into your train­ing sea­son in full force with en­ergy, con­fi­dence and stamina for an even more suc­cess­ful year.

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