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Carbohydrate periodization is it safe?

11 July 2019
carbohydrate periodization

Periodization of carbohydrates, What is it? Some studies have affirmed that diets high in carbohydrates, before and during a race produce a better performance. And it has certainly been proven that fatigue in the cyclist occurs when the glycogen deposits are depleted.

In order to delay fatigue as long as possible different adaptation strategies are carried out. These strategies seek to make changes in our metabolism in order to control the depletion of CH. There are studies that suggest a restriction of carbohydrates before, during and after endurance exercise.

This restriction would produce better results not only in the performance but in the state of global form. Precisely this strategy is known as "carbohydrate periodization"Or in English" train-low, compete-high "translated train-low, compete-high. This strategy is based on mixing periods of training with carbohydrate restrictions. Let's see more.

Periodization of carbohydrates

What is the periodization of carbohydrates?

The periodization of carbohydrates it consists in a reduction of the availability of carbohydrates in training. This is produced endogenously in glycogen stores and exogenously in carbohydrate consumption. Said reduction is carried out in order to obtain improvements in the long-term lipid metabolism.

The results are evidenced both at the muscular level and throughout the whole body obtaining a global improvement. In such a way that not only will improve the performance but the general results in competition. It seems that the carbohydrate periodization can get us interesting results in our cycling career.

Opinions found about carbohydrate periodization

The results that have been revealed by some studies may well confirm the efficiency of this strategy or disprove it. There are different opinions as to whether it is safe to get good results or not, with the carbohydrate periodization. Let's analyze what two investigations have shown and draw our own conclusion.

Study carried out by representatives of several countries in 2016

This study was carried out in 21 triathletes during 6 weeks. The first 3 weeks developed their usual training and during the following 3 weeks they went through an intervention process. In this process, not only was the periodization of carbohydrates, but the type of training was also controlled.

It was distributed to the athletes in two groups, one called the control group and the other intervention group. They performed 6 training sessions during 4 consecutive days, trained smoothly in the morning and in the afternoon HIIT training. The intervention group, after the afternoon HIIT training, had a dinner free of CH not to replace the glycogen.

This group also performed their morning training on an empty stomach and with low CH availability. After completing the morning's soft training, they proceeded to replace CH deposits. So for HIIT training in the afternoon if they had greater CH availability.

Meanwhile, the control group maintained their diet without restrictions so they performed their sessions with high CH availability. They did a race test in 10km, the result was that the control group did not get performance improvements. Instead, the intervention group achieved an improvement of the time in 3% and endured 150% of the maximum power.

Finally, the study showed that no athlete lost muscle mass. However, it should be noted that only the intervention group managed to decrease their body fat percentage. Therefore, the results show that the nutritional periodization It can improve performance, energy efficiency and body composition.

Study conducted by Med Sci Sports Exerc in 2017

This study sought to investigate the effects of carbohydrate periodization. He studied such effects on aerobic endurance performance using 26 athletes by 4 weeks of scheduled training. The elite athletes were divided into two groups, one of them with low carbohydrate consumption.

The program consisted of 1 morning hour of high intensity cycling exercise. Then a recovery of 7 hours while consuming isocaloric diets with highs or lows carbohydrates according to each group. Finally 2 hours of moderate exercise in the afternoon with or without carbohydrates. The results showed similar effects in both groups.

A test of 30 min from the time trial that the performance of both groups was similar. The researchers concluded that a periodic restriction in the training of 4 weeks does not cause differential effects on performance. This obviously comparing it to a training under no restriction.

Training methods with low CH availability

The "training-low" has different strategies adaptable to our training and schedule. If you decide to apply carbohydrate periodization Follow the suggestions below to include this strategy in your training.

Double training session

This method of carbohydrate cycling periodization it consists in carrying out a training session with the glycogen stores full. After a rest period, do a second training session with low CH availability.

Train on an empty stomach

Doing the training session before eating the first meal of the day could be a simple strategy. It is the easiest way to train with low availability of CH and to put into practice carbohydrate periodization. Obviously we will train with full glycogen stores after having dinner. But the production of fatty acids will be higher.

Seguir el método “Speed-low, train-low”

This method consists in carrying out an intense training during the evening to empty the glycogen deposits. Afterwards, we will not ingest carbohydrates in the post-workout meal so as not to replenish muscle glycogen stores. The next day a gentle fasting training will be applied.

This strategy is the most indicated to exercise with the least availability of carbohydrates. And there are many cyclists and riders who say that by following it they get notable improvements in their performance.

Warning about excessive carbohydrate periodization

Whichever method you choose, you should avoid chronic periods of carbohydrate restriction altogether. If you do not have moderate control, you could experience long-term consequences such as excessive muscle loss.

Periodization of carbohydrates

La carbohydrate periodization Uncontrolled can lower your performance in intensive workouts. In the worst case you could develop immunosuppression which would make you more prone to diseases. It is important to apply a guarded periodization at each meal so that we can increase the yield without the appearance of collateral problems. All this shows that it is important to maintain a balanced diet as well as the consumption of carbohydrates.