Thursday, October 31, 2013

Metabolic Efficiency and Nutrition Periodization

I am asked quite often what the difference is between my two concepts: Metabolic Efficiency and Nutrition Periodization.  Here's the down low on the differences.

Nutrition Periodization is the overall concept that is utilized as the foundation of any athlete's sport nutritional needs.  Each athlete will follow different training cycles with altering volume, intensity and energy expenditure and because of this, their nutrition program should support these alterations.  That is the basic idea behind Nutrition Periodization: support the body's energy needs with varying training load shifts in order to optimize physical training performance.  Irrespective of the sport, gender, position or class of athlete, Nutrition Periodization is the cornerstone of athlete nutritional planning.

Metabolic Efficiency is based on the premise of controlling and optimizing blood sugar.  There is not one time that an athlete should not have the goal of doing this.  The reason behind this concept was to eliminate GI distress in athletes who were prone to having this during training and competition.  However, not all athletes experience GI distress so these athletes have argued that they do not need to be metabolically efficient.  Unfortunately, they may not know that there are very positive ancillary benefits to improving their metabolic efficiency such as blood lipid improvement, decrease in risk factors for certain diseases, improvement in recovery and sleep patterns and weight loss/fat loss.

Metabolic Efficiency is a component of an athlete's overall Nutrition Periodization program.  At certain times throughout the competition year, an athlete may wish to manipulate their body weight and composition or improve health markers.  This is where the ancillary benefits of Metabolic Efficiency come into play.  Every athlete should have the number one goal of controlling and optimizing blood sugar.  It is just a matter of timing in regards to when they implement the different approaches to Metabolic Efficiency.

The most basic way to begin the metabolic efficiency path is to watch your carbohydrate to protein ratio.  In brief, if a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio of carb to protein is maintained at meals and snacks, it will optimize blood sugar thus reaping the benefits of hormonal control.  From there, it is up to the athlete on how to progress their metabolic efficiency.  There are a handful of additional dietary strategies that the Sport Dietitians at Fuel4mance implement based on the athlete and their individual needs.  This is also taught in the Fuel4mance Metabolic Efficiency Training Specialist Certification.

For now, the take-home message is that Nutrition Periodization is the guiding nutrition principle for athletes and Metabolic Efficiency is a sub-concept within the overall nutrition plan.  Metabolic Efficiency can have significant positive ancillary results aside from just blood sugar optimization and I recommend athletes get a good Sport Dietitian on their performance team to help guide them through the process.

Coach Bob