ONE of the most exciting developments in sports nutrition over the past 10 years is the concept of carbohydrate periodisation.
PERIODISATION is known as the systematic planning of athletic or physical training to ensure that performance peaks in time for competition. It has only been recently that certain boxing coaches and/or nutritionists have begun to strategically periodise the nutrition of their boxer in line with their training goals, fight-night schedule and specific body-composition goals.
This concept of nutritional periodisation means that you are essentially manipulating the type, timing and the total amount of foods being eaten in line with the type, intensity and volume of training being undertaken. As previously fighters may have eaten the same types and amounts of foods at the same time of day every day, which may have actually been counter-productive from a performance and body-composition perspective.
It is specifically carbohydrate periodisation that has received the most attention as by changing the type, amount and timing of carbohydrate intake around training sessions and fight night can provide the nutritional basis for promoting training adaptation (how the body changes and develops to meet the demands of the training session), achieving a desirable body composition/weight and ultimately maximising performance.
GIVEN that the intensity and volume of boxing-specific training, conditioning and sparring will change on a daily and weekly basis, with some sessions including high-intensity exercise whilst others consisting of moderate or low-intensity exercise, this means that a boxer’s diet should also change to meet the energy demands of the aforementioned sessions to help achieve the intended body composition goals of the fighter, whether that is losing or gaining weight whilst providing enough energy for the session.
For example, recent research has suggested that by deliberating restricting carbs around carefully chosen training sessions, i.e. before morning runs or in the recovery period (up to two hours) after carefully selected training sessions, this can actually enhance training adaptation and potentially promote fat loss. But then of course when it comes to key training sessions whereby high intensities are needed to be maintained for prolonged periods of time or in the 24-48 hours (depending on weigh-in time) leading up to fight night it is important to ensure adequate carbohydrate intake.
Also, if you are having a rest day is it really necessary to consume large amounts of carbohydrates? The answer would typically be no. Similarly, late at night when you will not be that active but are instead relaxing or resting, it may not be necessary to consume carbohydrates at this time – as these carbohydrates may potentially contribute to fat storage due to the inactivity of the individual before bed.
ABOVE are only two of the many examples by which an individual can manipulate their carbohydrate intake in line with what their day-to-day training schedule looks like. When this is performed over the week then fighters are beginning to periodise their nutritional intake with their weekly training schedule, and the same over months. However when periodising carbohydrate intake it is important to consume and maintain a high intake of different protein sources on a daily basis to promote muscle growth and repair as well as contributing to a number of other essential factors.
Finally, the idea of periodising nutrition depends on a number of factors, such as, what your goals are, the length of your training camp, the duration, intensity and volume of your training schedule and your injury status to name only a few. These factors should therefore always be considered when creating a well-structured, individualised and periodised nutritional plan.