Maintaining energy and vitality during a training cycle
Keeping your nutrition on point, during a training cycle, is the best way to help you maintain your training strength, energy levels and recovery alongside a solid sleeping pattern. If we misstep in our diet and nutrition, we can succumb to muscle fatigue, mood swings and health issues to name just a couple of the negative effects.
Every one of us is unique and our nutrition, as well as our physiology, are as well. We need to be especially wary of how we are fuelling ourselves if we are training more than usual or harder than we have been used to – so how can we manage this? Or make sure we avoid common mistakes? Firstly let’s lay out the pitfalls that we can fall into.
Let’s start with a simple one; structuring a training cycle. When structuring a training cycle, you need to make sure you have the caloric intake, to support it, and also the rest and recovery time your body needs especially if you’re pushing yourself strength and power-wise.
Then you might prefer training at a certain time of day, we need to make sure our caloric reserves are being used at the right times, so a meal time structure is a nice and solid foundation to build upon. Snack, meal, training session, protein snack, meal, snack, meal might be ideal for those expending a lot of calories in a day, whilst others might not enjoy snacking or not have time for Breakfast, so 2 large meals with a training session in between might be better. Whatever your way, do your research from scientific principals and be thorough. Also always consult a qualified dietician before making whole scale changes to your diet.
As each of us is different, each of us responds differently to different forms of nutrition, and subsequently how we use energy. Carbohydrate/s are the building blocks of energy so structuring your macronutrients correctly for your training is also key. For example, a cardio heavy routine needs more carbohydrate. And resistance training needs more protein to rebuild and repair our muscle fibres, plus as an added bonus protein keeps us more full for longer. Either way carbohydrate is very important and a good supply of grains, fruit and veg is going to be key in helping keep your carbohydrate intake where it should be. Sugar is a naturally occurring thing, so don’t be scared of including it in your diets, just moderate your intake and try and keep to natural sugars where possible. This natural type of sugar is broken down by the body more efficiently and tends to last longer and provide more energy when broken down.
If you feel fatigued during the week or after sessions, try modifying your sleep pattern by going to bed a little earlier, or if that doesn’t change anything, keep your carbohydrate intake and hydration on point and with a combo of all of these, you should feel much less drained. Remember, we are supposed to drink up to 3L of water a day, so stay hydrated!
Sleep is key to recovery and rest periods. There are a lot of sleep tracking options out there, so if you feel you’re getting enough hours of sleep for you and you still feel groggy, try monitoring your sleep and see if your REM sleep quality is good.
Protein after training is key for helping your body and muscles recover, so make sure to have a more protein heavy snack or shake from 15 mins - 2 hours after training. This way the body avoids breaking down tissues catabolically, you need to fuel muscle repair, otherwise your current muscle tissue just breaks down instead.
There are a tonne of strategies out there you can use or tailor to your own specific needs. Always make sure to use scientific research and data to build upon, and don’t be afraid of asking for help and guidance. How do you think professional athletes and actors do it? Have a read of this article by Jeffrey Bytomski if you want to explore the technical factors and get your macro on point: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5753973/
So why don’t you go ahead on get started on planning out your next training cycle, and seeing how you can boost your own performance!