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Periodizing carbohydrate intake is a thing - is it for you?

Carb periodization, are cheap shoes good? Plus: nailing swimming head position

Good morning everyone,

Well, we’re starting to see a bit more daylight on this side of the world, and not coincidentally I’ve been able to do the most training in a while. It feels good to get back in a decent training rhythm, but my fridge is looking a lot more empty as a result.

In today’s edition:

  • 🍌 Carbohydrate periodization is a thing - but will it help you get faster?

  • 👟 Are cheap shoes just as good as expensive ones (ehhh kind of).

  • 🏊‍♀️ And how to nail a perfect swimming head position.

Thanks for being here.

-Matt Sharpe, newsletter editor

Headshot of Matt Sharpe

Have a triathlete in your life who can't stop swimming, biking, or running? Fire this off to them. Forwarded from a friend? Sign-up for free. 


Should You Be Periodizing Your Carbohydrate Intake?

Dr. Jeffrey Sankoff is an emergency room physician, triathlete, coach, and host of the TriDoc podcast. He breaks down the latest in multisport science to help keep you educated, healthy, and fast!

In the never-ending search for a competitive edge, Dave Brailsford’s Sky cycling team led the way in finding small things that would give their riders incremental benefits that when summed could mean significant differences. This strategy of so-called ‘marginal gains’ was to become the stuff of legend during the 2010’s and was thought to be instrumental in the team’s successes at grand tours throughout the decade.

  • Everything from clothing to tire pressure to bed sheets to training regimens was subject to scrutiny and tweaking to find every possible watt. 

  • Of course nutrition was also investigated and working together with physiologists and sport scientists, Team Sky developed a program based on some novel theoretical premises. 

Brailsford posited that while our bodies worked best with carbohydrates as their principal fuel source, over the course of long days in the saddle and especially over long events like the Giro or the Tour, there would be times when our muscles would invariably need to rely on alternate fuels like fatty acids or ketones. Physiologists had long known that it was possible to train our bodies to better utilize those fuel sources under certain conditions and now Brailsford had his scientists embark on a program to leverage that. 

  • Initial results were promising and Sky’s ‘carbohydrate periodization’ looked to be a winning strategy that other teams soon adopted. But a recently published study co-authored by none other than the coach of Tour De France winner Tadej Pogacar has once again thrown it into question.

What then is the truth?

The short answer: Carbs are king - our bodies love this fuel source and do best with it. The various fueling strategies designed to ‘fat-adapt’ our cells do not seem to improve performance.

The long answer: Our bodies are well-designed to metabolize different kinds of fuels for different needs. At low intensities, our cells can make use of fatty acids and ketones because burning those fuels does not produce large amounts of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and at lower efforts, we don’t need as much.

  • But at higher intensity when large amounts of ATP are needed, there is no substitute for carbohydrates as a fuel source since proportionally, so much more can be generated per gram of fuel.

Is there a way to augment metabolism by fat-adaptation?

Read the rest of the article and learn:

  • If you can improve metabolism through fat-adaptation.

  • If Keto Diets are appropriate for triathletes.

  • And if carbohydrate periodization can actually improve your performance.


👟 Cheap shoe thrills: We all know new shoes can be expensive, but is all that tech worth the price? This fun video reviews some reasonably priced entry-level shoes and shows they can (mostly) do the job. Except maybe not for really long runs! [Ben Parkes]

🤓 Nerd Belts now at The Feed: "It's without a doubt an advantage having a race belt that holds extra fuel and hydration, not just a race number. Hydrate, feel light." - Steve McKenna, pro triathlete, and Ironman Champion. [nerd belts]*

🏊 Swim head position: Slight changes in your head position can have a big impact on how fast you swim. This video has a few key insights on how to nail a correct head position. [GoSwim]

🐖 Prevent future fat: Want to prevent long-term body fat from sticking around in the future? According to a new study, running (and endurance training like triathlon) helped prevent significant fat mass later in life. Not really shocking to be honest. [Runners World]

🦵 Creatine scene: The word “creatine” can infer images of buffed-up gym folks flexing their massive pecs. But creatine CAN be beneficial for triathletes as it helps accelerate recovery and increases muscle output and strength - which is great for cycling! [TrainingPeaks]

*Sponsored post


Triathletes are competitive? Nooooo 🤣

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Here’s what Tempo readers thought about the PTO’s ability to deliver a successful T100 tour.

Reader: Obviously, it is great for the athletes (monetary-wise) but like any league that has tried to surpass the pinnacle of it's sport (XFL in Football, WHA in Hockey, and numerous other leagues and sports), Ironman will be hard to overthrow because of the recognition of past excellence and the best competing there. Very much why so many athletes are not drawn to the money but still focused on Kona.

Reader: Last time I raced a PTO , it was very obvious that they are commited to go over and beyond any tri race standards to offer a very high quality race

Reader: The cream will rise to the top so I think other triathlon organizations will improve to survive. Lastly, the real newsworthy story will be..."who can survive and be stil in the market/business in 2025? AGs have cash and without them, you are toast.

Reader: As you said, normally they'd have, at a minimum, all the locations locked down. Pulling together races like this is typically a multi-year endeavor so it's a stretch to say 2024 will come together anywhere close to smoothly.

Reader: Personally, I’m ok just seeing a few big names per race and I WANT the chance to see wildcards break out and into the spotlight. The more breakout athletes, the bigger this sport gets and I think with lots of high profile races, even without some of the top globally ranked competitors, this will be a successful ambition long term for the sport.


Triathlon streaming wars: Warner Bros, Disney, and Fox are planning to launch a joint sports streaming service. And with WB as a key investor in the T100 triathlon series we can more than expect to see future races on this yet-to-be-named service. [Hollywood Reporter]

Doping bust: The International Testing Agency has announced that Brazilian triathlete Derik Felix Afornali has received a two-year competition ban after testing positive for Clomifine. [ITA]

Hockey hero: National Hockey League legend Zdeno Chara [CZ] will be competing at the iconic Challenge Roth this summer. [Triathlon Magazine Canada]

British best: Six “yellow jersey” British Triathlon ambassadors will be sharing their unique triathlon journeys while representing Team GB at global triathlon events. [Endurance Sportswire]

Super triathletes: It’s Super Bowl weekend! And these former NFLer’s have competed in the big game and the big dance in Kona. [Triathlon Magazine Canada]


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