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Triathlon Nutrition

Triathlon Nutrition is an important part of any well-designed training plan. When you are training for a triathlon, you are putting a lot of stress on your body and it is important that your diet contains the correct amount of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and other essential components. Otherwise, you could find yourself feeling run down, or tired and listless, and not benefiting properly from all of your hard training.

By following a varied and healthy diet, with proper triathlon nutrition, you will be able to maintain your good health while training and reap the maximum training effect. On race day this will lead to a better performance than you could get on an unhealthy diet.

Eat Your Greens

For years, medical advice has been to eat at least five portions of fruit or vegetables every day. For someone who is training hard this is even more important. The selection should be as varied as possible and can include fresh, frozen, pureed or dried fruit or even 100% fruit juice. By eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, you will ensure that you body is supplied with the majority of the vitamins and minerals it will need while you are exercising.

Vary Your Diet

There are seven basic foods groups, all of which should be eaten regularly to ensure that you are eating correctly. These food groups are;

  • Vegetables (4-5 servings/day)
  • Fruit (3-5 servings/day)
  • While grains (6-8 servings/day)
  • Beans, Legumes, Nuts and Seeds (4-5 servings/day)
  • Dairy (3 servings/day)
  • Eggs, Lean Meats and Poultry (1-2 servings/day)
  • Fish (3-6 servings/week)

By eating food in these proportions, and a variety of food in each category, your diet will be as good as it possible could be. Following this advice would supply your body with the best possible triathlon nutrition. When you are planning your meals, try to eat little and often throughout the day and start and finish eating as early as you can.

Limit Processed Food

As nice as it often tastes, your body has not evolved to eat unnatural, processed foods. Try to avoid foods with added sugars or processed grains and foods that are fried in "trans fats". These have been linked to increased cholesterol and high blood pressure and blocked arteries. It is also worth trying to avoid artificial additives, colorings and preservatives. If you have a choice, always try to eat organic foods rather than the non-organic equivalents, if only to avoid ingesting the chemicals and fungicides that can be used in the production of the food.

Know Your Body

To improve your performance, you need to maximise the potential in your body. By losing any excess weight that you are carrying it will make it easier to complete your triathlon in the fastest possible time. Rather than cutting out food and trying to crash diet down to the correct weight, plan to lose any excess fat steadily by eating healthily and gradually increasing your training. You might even want to invest in a body-fat monitor to help measure your relative body fat.

Just as recovery is important for your training, it is just as important to eat and drink properly to aid your recovery. Timing is everything, and you need to make sure that you eat a balanced meal or snack within a two-hour window of completing a training session. Sports drinks are very good for providing water, carbohydrates and electrolytes in an easy to digest form. Hydration is just as important as nutrition, and you need to make sure you have enough water or sports drink to take a drink whenever you feel thirsty.

Race Day

After months of controlling your diet while you are training, make sure that you don't over-eat during the taper phase and on race day. You can only ingest one liter of liquid and 100 grams of carbohydrate per hour while on the bike, and about half that while running. Any more could leave you with digestion problems that might ruin your race.

A triathlon is not something to undertake lightly. The training and race will take a lot out of your physically and mentally and you need to make sure that you supply yourself with the correct triathlon nutrition to make race day as good as you possibly can.

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