Periodization for GS, Part 7 (Nutrition)

A very often overlooked part of periodization, is nutrition periodization. In weight making sports such as kettlebell sport or grappling sports it can be make or break! Correct planning of nutrition can help ensure you’re in the desired weight category and may help with training/adaptation. In my experience, getting the nutrition side of things right can be an individual thing, much like peoples goals. This is where long term planning of nutrition may play a role. In the past I’ve made some mistakes that have negatively effected my performance. I naturally sit at around 82-84 kg, the first time I competed under 80 kg I weighted in at 77 kg! I went way overboard which really effected my strength levels. At the moment I’m trying to compete with 32 kgs bells, so I would prefer to be heavier as strength is a bigger limiting factor than endurance. The plan I outline below is just something I have been playing around with currently. It may or may not work for you, however it should give you some food for thought and encourage you to experiment (not for important comps) to find what works best for you.

We can loosely break down the phases of nutrition to correspond with GPP, SPP and making weight. During the GPP phase is the best time to make a real changes to body composition. The SPP phase is about training and providing fuel to train the specific energy systems involved in. Lastly, the weight making phase should ensure you weight in ok.

If you need to lose some weight or gain muscle the GPP phase is a better time than the SPP phase as you want to avoid making things more difficult during competition preparation.  You can look at this a few ways – you can eat normally and maintain your weight, fat loss/fat adaption (build work capacity), relaxed eating or eating what you want as a mental recovery. Whatever you do, you don’t want to make more work for yourself during the SPP phase.

There are many ways to lose weight or lose fat, and there are many diets that will help you achieve this goal. If you don’t want to lose muscle you should ensure you get adequate protein, manipulate other macronutrients (protein/fat/carbs) around that and not rush things! One additional benefit of going with a high fat diet in the GPP phase is that it may make you fitter. Low carb training increases signalling for mitochondrial biogenesis (telling the body to increase the number of mitochondria, which are the ‘power house’ of the cell), but reduces training intensity. However, in the GPP you may be doing higher volume lower intensity work thus it may not be a huge deal as you won’t need to be at your peak performance. If you don’t want to go low carb for the whole cycle you could try carb cycling or fasted training. Both carb cycling and fasted training mean you will be able to do sessions with low carb ability, but you will be able to refill later on. You may find you need a boost during this time, caffeine (from green tea or black coffee) may help you utilise fat at high intensities. Also, if your teeth are up to it, a carb mouth rinse might be helpful. The idea behind the carb mouth rinse is that it tricks your body into thinking carbs are coming into the system, and may help with performance.

At the end of your GPP phase, if you still need to lose a small amount of weight (say 1 kg over 8 weeks), you may wish to place a greater emphasis on of course cleaning eating and incidental exercise. A good way to increase you incidental exercise is to try to walk as much as possible after you train, which also adds in active recovery sessions, or first thing in the morning. Planned active recovery sessions may also be useful,

Being better at burning fat may be useful in long training sessions and for fat loss. However, in (10 minute) GS competition carbs are the main fuel used. Common sense, and the limited testing and playing around with a metabolic cart I’ve done would suggest this. The respiratory exchange ratio or RER indicates that carbs are the only thing being utilised. An RER value of 0.7 means only fat is being burnt, whilst 1 means only carbs are burnt, all the testing resulted in 1 or more. However, with relatively short efforts this is common knowledge. If you are one of those crazy people taking part in kettlebell marathons, especially if it’s over 90 minutes, both fat and carbs may be important fuel sources. So my general advice during the SPP phase for 10 minute sets of long cycle or biathlon is to avoid restricting carbs. However, carb stores will not last much longer than 90 minutes, so if you take part in marathons over 90 minutes in duration then using carb cycling or high fat/low carb diets may be useful as they will improve your ability to use fat as fuel. That being said, mind set will play a large role in pace.

Often when it gets time to taper people freak out if they are 1-2 kg over their goal weight. If you have reliable scales and the comp has reliable scales this last acute weight cut can easily be made by some minor diet changes that you should practice beforehand. These diet changes can be either a low residue diet or very high fibre diet. The idea is that when you come to weight in your faecal matter is minimised. This way you don’t need to dehydrate yourself or anything crazy like that, additionally it may help you have a deeper rack position.

The take home message is to eat for optimal body composition in the GPP phase, then eat for performance body comp maintenance or a slight improvement. At the end of the taper you can implement an acute diet that you have practiced to make weight. You should practice this to get a good idea of how your body responds and how much you lose.


optimal body composition/training base optimal training/performance Acute cut



Nice video by Dr Jeukendrup –


Effect of a carbohydrate mouth rinse on simulated cycling time-trial performance commenced in a fed or fasted state


The effect of carbohydrate mouth rinse on 1-h cycle time trial performance.


Nutritional modulation of training-induced skeletal muscle adaptations



My name is James Ross, I’m a qualified personal trainer, strength & conditioning coach and sports scientist. I am a founder and coach at The Richmond Gym in Melbourne and started the website

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