Fuelling Training Sessions And Races

Whether you are fuelling for training sessions or races the number of calories a person needs is dependent on their weight, body size, muscle mass, and activity level. Your body can only hold a limited amount of energy for glycolysis, a process that uses glucose as fuel for strenuous activities.

Athletes who are physically fit and have a good background in training are relying more heavily on fat reserves to support their exertions. We possess a sufficient amount of fat in our bodies to supply energy for lengthy stints of low-level activity.

Those who don’t have much of a cardiovascular foundation or runners who are looking to go beyond their usual level of exercise need to eat something to keep up the intensity or else they will get tired and eventually be unable to continue, which is often known as bonking or “hitting the wall”.

If you are going for a long jog or an extended period of strenuous running, sports nutritionists commonly suggest ingesting between 200-300 calories for every hour of the workout. Try eating or drinking 80-100 calories every 30-40 minutes.

What quantity is required will depend on how long and energetic the jog is and how large a person is. You should plan to incorporate these calories into your run. Do not wait until you start to feel fatigued.

Which kinds of calories you eat has an influence on how well you perform. The three essential macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates, and protein) are of utmost importance for maintaining a working and operating body. Yet, they’re not all needed for the same reason.

The Power and Role of Carbohydrates in Training

Studies persistently demonstrate the influence of carbohydrates on long-distance athletes. Analyses conducted in 2014 indicated that the majority of research (82%) reviewed revealed a connection between a heightened ratio of carbohydrates and both an extended duration of exercise and improved performance.

Also, exercising with plenty of stored glycogen in the muscles can enhance physical activity performance.

The reason? When running long distances, the body uses fat and glycogen as the main sources of energy. In tougher efforts, glycogen becomes the rate-limiting fuel source.

Carbohydrates consumed are turned into glycogen, which is kept in the liver and muscles providing a convenient way to generate energy. But our glycogen stores are limited.

The quantity of glycogen held in muscles usually falls between 300 and 700 grams. The liver stores anywhere between 0-160 grams. The amount of glycogen particles in an active muscle depends on:

  • body composition: more muscle mass means more glycogen storage
  • type of exercise: certain activities activate more muscles. For example, indoor biking uses fewer active muscles than trail running.
  • fitness level: untrained individuals store less glycogen. This is most likely related to muscle mass and how efficient their muscles are in using and storing glycogen.
  • diet: individuals eating a low-carbohydrate diet have less glycogen stored because we cannot store fat and protein as glycogen.

How long do glycogen stores last

The amount of glycogen stored in the body varies depending on the sort of physical activity done. The majority of individuals will have used up all their glycogen reserves after engaging in physical activity at a regular level for eighty minutes.

Carbohydrate use is directly correlated with intensity. You will use up more carbohydrates the faster and more intensely you move. Once your glycogen reserves have been exhausted, it is time to finish your workout.

The Roles of Fat 

Fat is an essential energy source for your body. The conversion of fat into exploitable energy is not effective, and it requires some time to be done. When you are performing the physical activity at a low intensity, your body will primarily use fat as its main power supply.

The extent to which you can use fat as an energy source is highly correlated to your aerobic fitness level. Exercising in zone 2 will boost your aerobic endurance and let you use fat more effectively as an energy source.

As the efforts being put in become greater, your body turns to carbohydrates as its energy source. Despite being well-educated in sports, athletes still make use of fat even after athletes who have not been trained as well have started to primarily rely on glycogen.

The great benefit of investing lots of time and energy in exercising at a low heart rate, in the zone 2 range, is evident.

How to maintain glycogen stores during exercise

It is essential to think about ways to keep your glycogen stored if you wish to have the same production level for a stated period.

One way to go about this is to lower intensity levels, which will result in a reduced burning of carbohydrates and increased use of fat. Consequently, you can keep your glycogen supplies for an extended period. This buys you more time at a lower intensity.

The second option is to consume carbohydrates during exercise. Athletes can generally begin with a snack or drink containing approximately 200-300 calories per hour of running. Try eating or drinking 80-100 calories every 30-40 minutes. What quantity you need will again depend on how far and intense you are running and your body size.

Daily Carbohydrate Needs for Endurance Athletes 

An essential part of keeping and restocking muscle glycogen is consuming the right amount of carbs each day before and after physical activity. This chart provides recommendations for daily carbohydrate needs. Here are a few key things to keep in mind:

  • One gram of carbohydrate is equal to 4 calories.
  • Your intake levels can vary depending on the type of training days. If you have easier, lower training days, decrease the number of carbohydrates on your plate and increase the protein. Take notice of how you feel when you change your plates based on your training levels.
  • Your total carbohydrate intake can include the carbohydrates you eat during your activity.
  • 1 kilogram of body weight is equal to 2.2 pounds. To convert, your body weight from pounds to kilograms, divide by 2.2.
  • An example: If a person weighs 160 pounds,
    • 160 lbs / 2.2 lbs = 72.7 kgs
    • For a moderate exercise day = 72.7 kgs X 5 grams of carbs = 364 grams of carbs per day or 1454 calories per day from carbohydrates

Recovery Foods and Drinks for Triathlon

It’s important to replenish with a blend of carbohydrates and protein immediately following each exercise session. It is advisable to eat or drink something that can aid in recovery within two hours of your exercise session. Studies have shown that a 30-minute time period right after a workout can be optimal.

You should refuel quickly because you need to replenish your glycogen reserves.

These stores provide us with vigour throughout the day and enable us to use our muscles effectively when engaging in physical activity. When your glycogen reserves are exhausted, it is referred to as “bonking.” Speaking from experience, it’s not fun.

Foods and beverages that are part of a recovery plan should incorporate protein, which helps muscles heal and rebuild after exercise. After exercising, your shakes or meals need to include a combination of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals.

Following the intensive physical activity, it is important to make sure you replenish your glycogen stores by eating an increased amount of carbohydrates. After a light workout, it’s beneficial to eat fewer carbs and more protein and fat to encourage the mending of your muscles.

Fuelling for Swim Leg

It is not possible to ingest any food or drink during the swimming part of a triathlon. However, this means that your pre-race fuelling is critical. Once you plunge into the water, you cannot partake in any form of nourishment until you have completed the swim.

It is suggested that you have a breakfast containing carbs about 3-4 hours before the beginning of your triathlon. This meal should emphasize carbohydrates, such as oats, cereals, and rice.

Rising in the middle of the night may be necessary in some cases, but you can always have a quick bite to eat and then return to sleep.

Before taking part in your competition, it is recommended that you consume an energy gel 20-30 minutes before the beginning. This will give your body proper time to metabolize the carbs and provide you with enough energy to get through the swim for more than 60 minutes.

Fuelling for Bike Leg

During a triathlon, the cycling segment is the ideal opportunity to consume a solid meal. It’s not possible to consume solid nutrition while swimming and it can get very uncomfortable when you attempt to have solid meals during a run.

Focus on having the right nutrition strategy when riding your bike, including getting enough calories and carbs through a mix of regular food, sports drinks, and energy bars or chews. It’s optional to eat solid foods, depending on the individual’s choice.

If your stomach and intestines can absorb all of the calories you need from liquids and pastes, you don’t need to make yourself eat solid foods.

You can consume 10% more calories while cycling since it is the easiest time for your body to absorb additional sustenance.

It is probably a given that you won’t be able to take in as many calories while running as compared to biking, so if you are successful in incorporating a 10% calorie increase plan while on the bike, then reduce the calorie goal while running, as your stomach calms down and you start to near the end.

Fuelling for Run Leg

Once you begin the running section of your triathlon, it is recommended that you consume only energy beverages, sports jelly, H2O, and an electrolyte solution. It can be extremely difficult to eat solid foods during a race, so it’s important to prepare your body’s digestive system to handle liquids, gels, and water.

Concentrate on meeting your dietary targets based on calories and carbs throughout your running stage.

It is most effective to take sports gels and electrolyte mix to remain energized during your running portion. This has the most advantageous balance between carbohydrates and liquids while being gentle on your stomach.

Dealing with Stomach Issues during a Triathlon

It is not unusual for stomach problems to arise during a triathlon. The triathlon puts a strain on your stomach because you must deal with the high intensity, a large amount of exercise, changing weather, and nutrition demands.

Nutritional issues will probably emerge in a triathlon’s biking or running stages when the greatest number of calories are consumed.

You should consume a variety of liquid sources of energy, such as gels, chews, electrolyte beverages, and water, following our suggested nutrition approach. We advise against the idea of having a single system for nutrition in which all of your calorie intakes is from one beverage or provider.

If you begin to feel nauseated, switch from drinking the electrolyte mix to drinking water instead. Be sure to make regular use of energy gels so you can have the carbs and energy you need to finish the event.

Drinking more water can assist in resetting your particular digestion by regulating osmolality. It shouldn’t be long before you feel better. Once your stomach has stabilized, transition back to using an electrolyte drink in combination with sports gels.

It is suggested that you keep your electrolyte mix and water separate from calories in case you get too thirsty and consume more.

We advise against employing a single overall dietary plan. If you feel uncomfortable in your stomach and stop consuming food and drinks containing calories, you will eventually run out of energy and “bonk”.

Triathlon Nutrition for Different Types of Workouts

Triathlon nutrition is not all created equal. You should alter your dietary regimen depending on how long and intense your exercise sessions are. Taking into account the length of time is straightforward and the variations will be visible in our nutrition calculator shown earlier in this post.

It is essential to modify the number of carbohydrates, fat, and protein you consume according to the type of exercise you are performing. Nevertheless, the differences each exercise necessitates can be quite significant.

Nutrition for Speed Workouts

When it comes to preparing for speed workouts, the focus needs to be on consuming carbohydrates. You don’t need to eat as much as you would at a Thanksgiving feast. Concentrate instead on the number of carbohydrates consumed before and during your high-intensity exercise.

Workouts that focus on increasing speed usually consist of brief, intense exercises which are aimed at boosting speed over a certain distance.

It can be tricky to eat substantial meals when doing an intense speed workout, so this is a great chance to train yourself for using sports drinks, energy gels, and electrolyte mixes to get energy.

Most speed workouts last for 60 to 90 minutes, so you should have enough stored carbohydrates in your body to get through it. This presumes that your muscle glycogen is already stocked up at the commencement of your exercise routine.

You should have a meal that is high in carbohydrates before your rapid workout. We’ll look at a precise amount of carbs as we start forming your triathlon nutrition plan.

Nutrition Tips 

Pay attention to your overall nutrition

Eating a healthy, regular diet will enhance your running experience. It’s essential to consider the carbs, fat, and protein ratio.

It is preferable to keep up a steady plan than to pursue a rigorous eating regimen that eliminates or severely restricts one of the three major dietary components.

Document your trials and errors

Discovering the best kind and quantity of food for your own body when running necessitates some experimentation. Sometimes you’ll get it right. Occasionally, you may experience digestive problems indicating that something did not go as planned.

Drinking your calories counts too

If you find that consuming solid foods causes your digestive system to become agitated while running, try getting your nutrition in liquid form. Make sure to look at the nutrition label to identify the correct beverage for you. Drinks that are high in carbohydrates can make sure you get enough energy during a jog.

Set timers

It’s really easy to get lost in thought while running and completely forget how long it has been since you last ate, particularly if the trail you’re on is really enjoyable. Program your watch to go off in 30 minutes to remind you to eat your food.

Taking it all in

You desire that your dietary intake aids you in experiencing optimal well-being and sustains your vigour. These basic strategies give you a good starting point. It is important to take into account the duration, strength, distance, and kind of calories when constructing a reliable dietary regimen.


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