If you are training for a triathlon, know that your body will be seeking out extra calories as you increase workouts the put muscles to the test. This does not give you the green light on overindulgence in ice cream sundaes and pizza. Getting your body ready for the intense training needed to prepare for a triathlon means fueling it with building blocks that will support and drive your body at maximum efficiency.
Since you will be burning more calories than normal, hunger pangs will set in often. Be wary of what you eat, and how much you eat. Both are essential. Otherwise, you will find yourself easily taking in more than you need.
Here are some triathlon nutrition tips to help you fuel up the right way, so your road to the triathlon is triumphant, successfully delivering you to the finish line.
1. Carbs Are OK
Since you working out more, your body is burning more calories. To ensure you have the fuel you need to get through your workouts, it’s ok to add about an extra 200 calories per day in carbohydrates. Just make sure the carbs you choose are whole grain, high fiber sources. These types of carbs will process slowly as you train, providing a sustained source of energy.
Simple sugars just before training are ok in limited amounts. They will give you the energy you need over the next hour or so, and you know you will burn them off; but, don’t make them the bulk of your carb intake.
2. Make Breakfast Count
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for anyone. As a triathlete, this rule applies tenfold. This meal should be carb-rich but not necessarily high in fiber. Choose foods your body works well with. Some suggestions are fruit, yogurt, granola, or eggs with some toast or English muffin. You want to fuel up without weighing your body down.
3. The Evening Ritual
Dinners should close out the day with nutrition and muscle building protein. You have worked your muscles at maximum levels, so breakdown of fibers need to be mended. Keep dinner before 6 to 7 p.m. so it is well digested long before you hit the sheets. This will allow you to sleep well and recuperate from the day’s training.
Dinner on the eve of the triathlon should finish by 6 p.m., so you are in the clear for the next day.
4. Pre-Race Power Up
On race day, have breakfast at least two hours before the start of the race. Again, this should be filled with energy-rich carbs that are easy for you digest. Avoid high fiber on this day. You cannot afford a bathroom break mid-race. Just before the race, give your body a mini snack boost with an energy-dense snack. Most triathletes avoid eating just before, but you have three events to get through. Suggestions for snacks include a powerbar, oatmeal and raisins, pita bread with 1 tablespoon of nut butter, or granola with dried cranberries.
5. Finish Strong
After completing the grueling three-event competition, you may not feel like ingesting anything. If you can’t muster up the will to eat, make sure you rehydrate well and rest. Sports drinks and coconut water go a long way to replenish lost electrolytes. Once you start to feel hunger pangs, go ahead and indulge in a treat. You worked hard for this, but remember to get back on track the next day.