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The role of Nutrition in Triathlon

The role of Nutrition in Triathlon

Let’s have a talk about the things most recreational athletes always intend to do… but never get around to!

There will be four parts in this series, as I firmly believe that there are four things that are overlooked which are just as important as the sport themselves, from my point of view, the swim, bike and run.

Part 1 is Stretching.
Part 2 is Strength Training.
Part 3 is NUTRITION.
Part 4 is Bodywork/Maintenance.

Ah, nutrition. The most argued about thing around at the moment (that’s if you pay much attention to endurance sports media).

Low carb diet, no carb diet, vegetarian, vegan, Atkins, shake diets, high fat, low fat…

Oh. My. God.

Everything that is put out there can be backed up by a “scientific study” because if you pay someone enough money… you can make a study and manipulate some results to say anything. I know that sounds pessimistic, but it’s true. It’s about reading through a lot of bull(stuff) and using some good old common sense.

But why should every day nutrition be important to endurance athletes? Don’t we do enough training to eat whatever we want?

Well, no. At the same time though, I am not going to tell you what the best diet is, because it’s not the same thing for every single person. What works for one won’t work for another, or someone won’t like some elements of a particular diet… so what on earth do we do??

A concept that isn’t that hard.

Eat. Real. Food.

  • Don’t eat too much processed crap.
  • Eat plenty of veggies and fruit.
  • Don’t cut out things that you like, because that’s a recipe for disaster, but just eat little bits of it.
  • Eat lean meats, of any kind you like, red, white, fish, or….
  • No meat at all if you don’t like meat, but make sure you consider high protein alternatives like eggs, tofu etc.

And most of all don’t be scared of any food group. Take the time to learn the nutritional value of the things that you eat, whether you need to spend some time counting calories or points or keeping a food diary.

Know that when you train, your carbohydrate needs increase, and don’t be scared of them. If you have a rest day, don’t eat as many carbs, and if you are training for 6+ hours you are going to need SOME sort of carbs to keep you going and help you recover.

And on that note… recovery? What do I eat to recover properly?

So many things suit here. But there are a couple of things that stand out:

  1. Enough protein to assist in muscle repair
  2. Carbohydrates to help replace depleted glycogen from your muscles.

Studies have shown that 20g of protein every couple of hours post exercise is perfect for recovery (particularly if you are training again soon after the completion of the exercise session).

My go to for recovery is flavoured milk. Not even kidding. Great ratio of protein in the milk, carbs in the  milk and flavouring. But you can use other things, like protein bars, a full meal, things like that. If you plan to have a meal straight after your session then you have meat, carbs and veggies and it’s perfect, but you should be ingesting something pretty soon after the workout for recovery.

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