I Only Eat Once A Day And Still Gain Weight N Is for Nutrition in Triathlon Training

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N Is for Nutrition in Triathlon Training

Triathlon training nutrition is probably one of the most important yet overlooked aspects of recreational triathlon. Professional triathletes are hypersensitive to the need for nutrition during both training and competition. Amateur triathletes, however, tend to be careless in their nutrition or don’t plan their nutrition well enough and therefore suffer the consequences of poor performance. To truly be successful in triathlon, you need to focus on your nutrition for best results.

PERIODIZATION

The first aspect of nutrition is periodization. It is very difficult to follow a strict diet while training all year round. I personally have to have moments where I “slacken my belt” and enjoy a good cheeseburger. So, understand that just as there is periodization in your training, there is periodization in your nutrition. For example, when you’re restricting on race day, you might get really strict on your diet about 8-12 weeks before race day. This gives you plenty of time to shed any extra weight you’re carrying and to maximize your workout days with quality foods. After the race, you might take a week’s worth of eating some extra food or enjoy a meal that just isn’t in your strict training diet. You shouldn’t feel bad about this time of cheating and enjoy a big desert. Once this cheat week or cheat day is over, jump right back into your stricter diet to prepare for your next race. In the off-season, it’s important to enjoy some foods that aren’t so stiff, but be aware that you can gain too much weight in the off-season.

NUTRITION FOR TRAINING

Every athlete is very different in terms of what they eat during training. Some of the basic components of a good diet are quality carbohydrates (no McDonald’s), quality proteins such as fish, chicken and lean meats, fruits (often overlooked), and vegetables. Some triathletes get so neurotic about these different aspects that they measure everything. As a very busy person this is hard to do, however once you find a good eating plan you will be able to implement a good training diet. Don’t go on a “diet” as you minimize calories so much that your exercise sessions end in weakness or “breakout”. Eat 6-7 times a day with quality snacks such as fruit, low-fat cheese sticks or protein bars. Make sure you drink plenty of water as your workout will require extra amounts of water to avoid dehydration. Finally, pick a nutritional pattern and stick with it instead of trying so many different fads.

BREED NUTRITION

For every triathlon you compete in, you’re going to have certain nutritional issues that you’ll need to address. For sprint and Olympic/international distance races, you’ll probably only need a pre-race meal. For long course races such as half ironman or full ironman, you will not only need a pre-race meal, but also a nutrition plan during the race. Currently, I have 2 250 calorie juices around 2:30-3:00 on race day. I eat a whole cinnamon raisin bagel an hour before the race. So I use the PowerBar Powergel tangerine flavored gels before the race and during the race. I usually use a gel every: 45 minutes on the bike and every: 30 minutes on the run. I also use Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes pre-competition and at each of the above gel intervals. I also use Hammer Nutrition’s FIZZ in my water bottles for the bike. The process of finding this nutrition mix has taken the past 6 years. Sometimes you discover things by trial and error like my need for Accelerade during this last year’s race.

Nutrition is so important to overall performance. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Find some best practices and start the trial process for your needs.

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