In most sports, athletes periodise their training. There may be a base phase after the off-season in which high volumes of training are used to regain conditioning or to gain muscle mass. This may be followed by a transition phase and competition preparation, then competition, recovery and the start of a new cycle. Within these macro cycles, there are micro cycles with sessions of different duration, intensity and purpose—hard day, easy day, etc. Clearly, as your exercise needs change, your nutrition needs do too.
In the previous section, we promoted the idea of setting up some baseline eating routines and scaling up or down with extras and training-based snacks according to your workouts and their goals. Energy needs will go down during periods of inactivity, while protein and carbohydrate needs will increase as you train more. This is the simplest way of periodising your nutrition.
However other approaches are being tried. One involves trying to adapt endurance athletes to high-fat diets to make them better at ‘fat-burning’. Even the leanest of athletes carries several kilograms of body fat that can be used by the muscles as a fuel for exercise. The training undertaken by these athletes helps them to use this fuel instead of muscle glycogen. This is an advantage since it allows the limited glycogen stores to last longer before they are depleted and the athlete gets fatigued.