How to Periodize Nutrition for Optimal Performance

Zev Weisdorf
3 min readOct 24, 2023
Photo by Mark DeYoung on Unsplash

In the realms of strength and conditioning, periodization is a cornerstone concept. Athletes carefully structure their training cycles to amplify performance and mitigate injury risk. Yet, often lurking in the shadows, an equally significant aspect awaits its moment to shine: nutrition periodization. By tailoring one’s dietary intake based on training phases or even seasons, individuals can create a synergy between physical exertion and nutritional support.

At its core, nutrition periodization recognizes that our nutritional demands are not static. For example, during a pre-season where the emphasis might be on building muscle or enhancing endurance, the diet should adequately mirror these aspirations. Increased caloric intake, especially from protein and complex carbohydrates, becomes paramount. On the contrary, the in-season or performance phase would prioritize maintaining energy, stamina, and muscle tone. This calls for a diet that’s rich in quick energy sources and recovery nutrients — a harmonious blend of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Then, as the curtain falls and off-season begins, the spotlight shifts to recovery. Reduced caloric intake, but with a focus on nutrient-dense foods, becomes the order of the day. Transitioning between these phases also has its own unique dietary rhythm, often a blend between the two adjoining phases.

Photo by Caju Gomes on Unsplash

Yet, the symphony of periodized nutrition doesn’t stop at mere calorie counting or macronutrient balancing. Delving deeper, we find micronutrients playing their intricate melodies. These essential vitamins and minerals are the unsung heroes behind energy production, muscle contraction, and overall vitality. Ensuring a diverse diet or, where necessary, supplements, can guarantee these tiny powerhouses are not overlooked.

And, where would we be without mentioning hydration? A fluid that ebbs and flows based on training intensities, surrounding temperatures, and even individual sweat rates. Every drop counts, and adjusting fluid intake is a must.

Photo by Boxed Water Is Better on Unsplash

As we wade deeper into the waters of nutrition periodization, we might occasionally encounter the islands of strategic refeeding. Sometimes known colloquially as ‘cheat days,’ these are the days where a purposeful uptick in calories or carbs reinvigorates both the body and mind. These moments can act as metabolic catalysts, reignite glycogen stores, and even offer a mental respite from stringent dietary routines.

Yet, amidst all these intricacies and structures, one guiding principle stands tall: listening to your body. Our bodies often whisper their needs, and occasionally shout their discontents. Persistent fatigue, nagging injuries, or protracted recovery intervals are all beckoning calls for a nutritional audit.

To encapsulate, periodizing nutrition transcends mere dietary adjustments. It’s about creating harmony between one’s physical endeavors and nutritional intakes. When done right, the dividends are manifold: soaring performances, swift recoveries, heightened mental clarity, and a safeguard against overtraining. In the grand tapestry of fitness, a well-woven nutrition strategy is not just complementary but integral to achieving peak potential.



Zev Weisdorf

Strength Coach, Learner, Creator, Investor, Jewish, Brother to 4 incredible siblings, currently in London Ontario! Join me for the ride.