What To Eat When Training For a Triathlon

Nutrition Tips for Triathlon Training

The time has come. You have decided to cross off another item from your bucket list.  You’ve decided to participate in a triathlon! But, now what? Where do you start? How can you begin preparing for one and making sure you are getting the right nutrition to support your training?

Triathlon competitionsAn important element when preparing for a triathlon is to have proper energy going into your body. There is no magic diet when preparing for a triathlon. The main aim should be to eat healthy with a good balance of nutrients. Getting your triathlon training nutrition right will make all the difference to your performance however. So follow these diet tips and you’ll soon see your energy and endurance levels increase even more, ensuring that you are in tip top condition for your upcoming triathlon!

  • Stay Hydrated. Staying hydrated is very important in triathlon nutrition. Drink lots of water. Water increases blood volume and lowers body temperature through hydrating your muscles, which results in improved exercise performance. Sport drinks are another alternative to water since they contain additional nutrients that are more absorb-able and have a better retention rate. Just check their sugar content first – you don’t want to be drinking lots of calories.
  • Eat Every 3 Hours. Eating small, nutritional meals every 3 hours is much better for your body when on a training diet. Make sure to eat a small meal before an early morning session too so that you don’t pass out. The small meals give your body constant energy, without weighing you down and making you feel too full to move.
  • Eat Enough Calories. A common myth is that calories should be restricted when training for triathlons.  The culprit probably being the constant praise society gives those who are super skinny. The opposite is actually true. If you’re training for a triathlon, you should be getting enough calories for your body to function at its optimal level. For those preparing for a triathlon, you’re training several hours a day. A person getting ready for a triathlon needs more calories so the body can function correctly. When you are training, you burn through calories. Aim for low GI foods, good carbohydrates and you’ll be well on your way to ensuring that you are getting enough calories.
  • Eat Carbohydrates and Proteins. Triathlon athletes need to consume more proteins and carbohydrates, as these foods contain calories that are essential for the production of energy. Since low carb foods are the current fad many people think that they must lower they’re carbohydrates intake. This is false and you need to change your way of thinking when training for a triathlon. When selecting carbohydrates for your meals don’t eat junk carbohydrates like cake or high-fat pastas. Instead focus on eating healthy carbohydrates.  These can include, whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pastas, fruits, vegetables, and beans.  Protein is an essential nutrient in a triathletes diet as well because it is required for growth and muscle repair. Examples of good sources of protein are grass-fed beef, albacore tuna, almonds, skinless & boneless chicken, chocolate skim milk, and eggs.
  • Reduce consumption of refined foods. While preparing for a triathlon there is no room for compromise on what you put into your body. Triathletes should stay away from high-fat junk foods like burgers, fries, candy, high-fat dressings, and fried foods.  Refined foods do not provide the necessary energy levels that are required for triathlon training. They cause inflammation of the muscles and joints. Refined foods contain sugar alcohols that the body absorbs rapidly, and they are of no value in terms of nutrition per calorie. Processed foods also tend to stimulate blood-sugar levels, and this can be detrimental to an athlete’s health.

Training for a triathlon is hard work, but being on the right diet plan can work wonders. Concentrate on eating a well-balanced diet and your body will function better and your endurance will improve too.  Good luck!

Don’t forget to cool down and warm up before each training session as well. You don’t want to damage any of your muscles before you get into the race. Follow up your triathlon with a soothing massage as well, this will release any tension in your muscles and increase muscle repair. If you are competing in a triathlon on the Gold Coast, keep an eye out for us, because we’ll be there!

Photo Credit: Jimmy Harris