Triathlete’s Training Nutrition

You dedicate countless hours to perfecting your swimming moves, analysing the newest carbon materials out there, and using up numerous pairs of running shoes. Do you put the same amount of energy and commitment into your diet?

Many of us make the mistake of consuming whatever we feel like without pausing to question if our diet is suitable for the training we are doing now that it is a certain season.

Periodized Nutrition

Enter periodized nutrition. Basically, this nutrition plan is tailored to your physical training schedule and intensity, which is divided into four parts: Base, Build, Competition and Transition.

The start of this program will be at the beginning to middle of January, reaching its peak near the beginning of June when the triathlons are held (although it can be adjusted depending on the starting date of your season).

A general estimate is that the Base Phase takes about three months from January until April, the Build Phase takes two months until June, and the Competition Phase encompasses the first six weeks of the racing season.

This period covers the last weeks of competition and continues up until the beginning of the new year when the Base Phase resumes.

No matter the season, there are constant nutritional guidelines, mentions Bob Seebohar, author of the book “Nutrition Periodization for Athletes”.

Seobohar advises picking foods with beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc to bolster immune system function. Pick polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats rather than saturated fats, and if your eating habits are not good, start to improve them by keeping a record of what you eat for three to five days.

Keep in mind that this is real life, so you should stick to the 80:20 rule – that is, 80% of your food should be nourishing, with 20% given over to what you choose. Right, onto that 80%…

Base Phase Nutrition

The ringing of Big Ben remains in your memory – along with the sound of people munching mince pies, drinking Glenfiddich Whisky and hearing the voice of Graham Norton.

It has been discovered that Christmas has a tendency to tear apart the aims of triathletes, as research has revealed the average person will gain five pounds during the holiday.

According to sports nutritionist Drew Price, body composition is an essential part of the initial phase. Now is an excellent opportunity to reduce your weight because the intensity of your workout should be low.

It is not only important to reduce weight, but it is also essential to enhance your aerobics capacity. This can be accomplished through long exercises conducted at an intensity that allows the body to produce energy using oxygen.

This nutritionally translates to being able to cut down on carbohydrates consumed during intense activities and replace them with energy from foods containing protein and healthy fats.

Price says that the number of carbs you should be consuming daily can vary from 6g-9g per kilogram of your body weight, depending on how much you train. “Athletes who are training less and have a higher body fat percentage should aim for six.” The amount of protein should be between 1.2 and 1.6 grams per kilogram, while fat should be in the vicinity of 0.9 to 1 gram per kilogram.

It may appear that eating fewer carbohydrates and more fats is contrary to shedding weight, however, consuming too many carbs can be turned into fat in the body. Fats that are beneficial to your health such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds will make you feel more satisfied for a longer period than eating carbohydrates.

Base Breakdown

According to Price, the base period is the ideal time to experiment with various whole foods. This time is defined by a limited consumption of carbs, which has been replaced in the dietary balance with increased protein, fat and fibre.

Increase your consumption of antioxidants to protect yourself from common winter illnesses and try not to snack too often. When you do have a snack, try healthier options like almonds instead of Pringles.

Alex Lawton, who was crowned the winner of Helvellyn 2014, enjoys a nutritious breakfast every day which is worth emulating. During the base period, I prefer to enjoy porridge made out of the water (though I occasionally use milk for higher calorific needs), and this includes oats, pumpkin seeds, sultanas, cherries, blackcurrants and grapes.

Build Phase Nutrition

You’ve laid your aerobic foundations and refined technique. Now, it’s time to increase the velocity of your training by boosting the intensity of your workouts. To put forth more effort, you must access additional short-term energy sources – which necessitates an increase in carbohydrates.

Sports nutritionist Drew Price recommends that during the build phase, the number of carbs taken should be between 8-12g per kg. “Protein intake also increases to around 1.5g-2g per kg. Fat remains around the 1g per kg mark.”

Be careful to avoid the temptation of reducing carbohydrate intake if you haven’t yet achieved your desired weight for a triathlon. Alan Murchison, a chef and athlete, has observed that attempting to intensify a diet comprised mainly of low-carb foods leads to fatigue, sluggishness, and the risk of becoming sick.

The rise in carbohydrate consumption comes mainly from three practices: eating more grains like noodles and rice, a larger emphasis on healthy foods between meals (to maintain glycogen stores and performance during two-a-day workouts), and more reliance on energy-dense snacks made specifically for athletes (which will keep you going during intense periods).

Professor John Hawley states that people previously believed that protein was only beneficial for those wanting to build muscle, but in fact, it has wider uses. My coworker who was into bodybuilding was down the hall and always had a strong smell of canned tuna. He’d be feeding protein throughout the day.

It was found in a study last year that it is better to consume protein in the form of 20g doses rather than in one large serving. Yet, it is favourable to consume proteins earlier in the day, as it will help to repair any muscle damage experienced as a result of hard training during the day.

Protein Increase

Contemplating the high impact that running has on your body, it is wise to amplify your protein intake to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Particularly, when going downhill, it intensifies the lengthening of your stride.

As temperatures increase and exercise intensity grows, becoming properly hydrated becomes more of a concern.

The beverages you consume before, throughout, and after your exercise regimen have an effect on the efficiency of your efforts. Weighing yourself just before and after your session is still considered to be one of the more reliable indicators of how much fluid you should be drinking.

It is not necessary to consume energy drinks for workouts that last less than 60 minutes.

Finally, don’t ignore sodium requirements. “Think about salt tablets,” says coach Bob Seebohar. In a long-triathlon race, it may be beneficial to consider the environment and distance. Test yourself during extended bouts of running and biking to observe your performance.

Build Advice

This is an ideal opportunity to up the ante and incorporate more high-grade complex carbohydrates and protein into your diet. Test out different types of food and find the ones that are easy to eat a lot of and not too hard to digest, and make sure you are getting enough calories to match being more active.

Alex Lawton reports that when he is in this stage, he usually consumes an extra 300-500 calories per day due to snacking between workouts.

Generally, I would choose between a banana with peanut butter, wholegrain brown rice cakes with peanut butter and a couple of bananas if I was really hungry, or a small bowl of muesli with milk.

Staying hydrated is important, and you can accomplish this with liquids as well as by eating certain foods.

Triathlon Nutrition Training: Swimming

Choosing an appropriate diet for a triathlon competitor is widely considered to be advantageous– predominantly due to the difficulty of handling training, employment, family, and social activities while still having the capacity to eat healthily.

A lot of athletes get up early and swim before work, so triathletes will often have a small breakfast such as toast with peanut butter, and then a more substantial meal afterwards containing the right balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats (e.g. an omelette with vegetables and toast, or porridge with yoghurt and fruit).

If you are anticipating an extensive practice, you might want to bring along a bottle of water or sports drink on the poolside. Don’t forget that you sweat while you swim!

Triathlon Nutrition Training: Biking

For trips that are 90 minutes or less in duration, it is probably not necessary for you to consume a lot of food (except if you have just engaged in another exercise routine or have not eaten for a few hours before the trip).

Bring along a bottle of water or an electrolyte-filled beverage and try to drink about 16 ounces per hour. However, how much you consume can rely on your personal hydration needs, so it’s best to experiment to figure out the ideal quantity for you.

It might be a good idea to take on calories, in addition to staying hydrated, for bike rides lasting 90 minutes or more. There is a multitude of options for achieving this. If you are inexperienced with the activity, inquire other participants for their advice and suggestions on what they favour.

Do not assume that complex energy bars or energy chews are the answer. Many simple, natural foods like bananas, nuts, or homemade snacks can also provide adequate energy.

Dr Stacy Sims, a sports nutritionist, advises cyclists taking long rides to consume 1.5 to 2 calories for every pound of their weight each hour, made up of a balanced mixture of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. This will help ensure a consistent level of energy and prevent the complete depletion of glycogen.

She noted that it is better to consume multiple small portions of food instead of a large number of calories all at once. Examples of healthy snacks include small boiled potatoes seasoned with salt, whole wheat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and homemade energy balls.

Triathlon Nutrition Training: Running

Many triathletes find it difficult to eat while running, and unless they are participating in an extremely long race, they don’t need to consume anything while running. Eating properly and drinking enough water before and after the race should be enough.

The optimal eating plan for triathletes should be relatively low in fibre before extensive running activities (and on competition day) to reduce the chance of gastrointestinal troubles. Joggers often suffer from stomachaches in a long run, which they discuss openly with other sportsmen.

If you are looking for an energy source during a running workout, the preferred alternatives are often fluids (such as electrolyte beverages or energy drinks) or energy chews or jellies. The main thing to focus on is making sure your blood sugar stays high and any digestion problems are kept to a minimum.

If you’re planning to be active for a longer period with an increased load, such as two hours or more, you could consider getting a hydration vest for yourself. Take note that if you do more intense and lengthy exercises, you must replace the fluid and electrolytes that you are losing through sweat.

For workouts longer than an hour, it is necessary to consume extra salt in addition to drinking water.

The Triathlete’s Diet: Eating for Recovery

A well-planned diet for those who are training for a triathlon should include a substantial amount of protein and carbs. This is not only advantageous for providing energy during training, but for recovery as well.

The healing process can only start effectively once you are supplying the nutrients that your body requires to adjust, reconstruct, mend, and get ready for your future plans.

Eating a good amount of protein, anywhere from 20-30 grams, in the 20-30 minutes following a tiring or difficult workout can help your body to recuperate quicker by prompting protein creation in the muscles. Examples of food to consume for protein refuelling could be eggs, yoghurt, kefir, cottage cheese and protein drinks.

It is essential to have more than just protein; carbohydrates are necessary to revitalize your energy and will top off the supply of glycogen. Post-workout carbs might include items such as sweet potatoes, quinoa, any other grain, and different kinds of fruits and vegetables.

It’s best to combine proteins and carbohydrates after exercising, and some athletes decide to have a snack that is low in calories but high in protein shortly after working out and then make sure they eat a balanced meal with both protein and carbs within 90 minutes.

Making sure that you are consuming adequate amounts of food, especially following a workout session, can considerably contribute to maintaining a good state of wellness. Triathletes should be careful not to prioritize weight goals or body composition targets over making sure they are consuming the right amount of food and liquids to fuel and refuel.

This can potentially cause issues like the Relative Energy Deficit in Sports (RED-S) to surface, which can decrease performance, disrupt immunity, cause menstrual issues for female athletes, weaken bones, and be linked to overtraining as the body would be unable to recuperate. It can also lead to longer-term health problems.

Matt Fitzgerald, the coach and writer of Racing Weight, created an article called “The Great Race Weight Debate”. It provides three significant pieces of advice for all triathletes, from novices to professional athletes.

‘This article entitled “The Do’s and Don’ts of Getting Leaner” presents some helpful advice for achieving a healthy balance between working out and losing weight safely.’

Nutrition During a Triathlon Race

Many triathletes will state that what you consume during your competition can have a tremendous influence on how successful your day is. If you make the right decisions, it is likely your day will be filled with luck, and you might even have a noteworthy accomplishment.

If you don’t get it right, you may experience bloatedness and heaviness – or in an even worse scenario, be stuck in port-a-johns not knowing what has just taken place.

The type of food consumed during a competition will be contingent on how long the event is. Dr Stacy Sims has provided us with a thorough quick set of instructions for race-day nourishment that are modified specifically for the sprint, Olympic distance, 70.3, and full-distance competitions.

Eat, Drink, and Race Well

If you think of the body as an engine, then the athlete’s diet can be expressed as “quality fuel.” Quality fuel will ensure the most optimal performance is achieved.

It is commonly said that exercise cannot make up for a poor diet. Eating well before, during, and following exercise as well as competitions will guarantee you reach the best possible results.


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