When it comes to eating, there is no question that triathletes eat VERY well. I reckon the tri family could put some of the rugby teams to shame in terms of what goes down in consumption on a daily bases, even more so when the training volumes are at their peak.
As triathletes, we are all so diverse and it can be said that there is no one-of-a-kind diet/nutritional plan that will suit each and every one of us. We have the “see” food guys and girls who literally eat anything and everything. The vegetarians are out there and growing by the number as are the vegans. Each to their own we say.
No matter what sort of diet plan or regime you follow, there are some simple tricks and dishes you can try to ensure you maintain your tri-fitness. We like to compare the triathlete’s human body to that of a finely tuned sports car. The “sports car”, no matter what type of powerful engine it possesses under the hood, can only go as fast as the essential fuel it is fed. The same rule of thumb applies to you as an athlete. All the training and preparation in the world can come to nought if you do not feed yourself the right fuel.
Here are some of our suggested tips on fuelling your next workout:
Take in some carbs and limit the protein all within around 90 minutes pre-workout.
A typical sandwich or filled roll can work the magic
Avoid eating anything heavy in fiber if at all possible before a workout.
No sense in getting that stomach “upset” before pushing it into the red zone
Don’t allow yourself to go into the workout hungry.
If you are hungry before the workout – chances are that you are going to blow-out sometime during the session – snack on an energy bar for example if time is scarce and you are battling to find the time to sit down and eat something more substantial.
Hydration along with food is just as important.
If you are thirsty pre-workout this normally means you are semi-dehydrated already, which will have an impact on your workout performance plan for the day. Keep a juice bottle nearby and keep on sipping at regular intervals to ensure you don’t go thirsty
Avoid a heavy-fat food intake at least 2hrs pre-workout.
Something like pizza or cheese is not a great way to prep going into a hard workout – heavy fats take a longer time to digest
Eat a pre-workout snack 30 mins prior to starting.
This can be something as simple as a banana or granola bar.
Focus on replenishing the carbs and protein post-exercise.
Normally within 60 minutes after having exercised.
Have a hydration recovery drink post-workout.
Nothing does the job better than a chocolate milkshake if you can get your hands on one!
The tips listed above, pretty much cover the “see” food brigade who can eat almost anything. What about the vegetarian triathletes out there. What sort of nutritional priorities should they be looking for?
TRI Vegetarians Priority List
Getting in enough calories.
Plant-based diets are not generally jammed with vast amounts of calories so it does take quite some effort at times, to ensure that the body is fed enough to sustain it for the longer training sessions. While an intake of fewer calories might result in initial weight loss (a definite objective for some athletes) the longer term effect would actually be negative; The recovery time needed after a workout would be increased and the body would eventually adjust to the “less calorie” intake and eventually burn fewer calories
Keep a tab on the fiber intake.
Plant-based foods are high in fiber which will often result in bloating, gas and a GI. Be aware of this when choosing your food types and restrict a mass intake of fiber if at all possible – especially just before a workout or race event
Ensuring Adequate Protein intake.
Plant-based foods are also low in protein and as we know, protein is an essential nutrient when it comes to recovery after a hard workout or event. A protein supplement taken in either tablet or powder form may be recommended, especially when you are busy with harder and longer training building blocks
Sufficient Iron intake.
Without enough iron in the system, fewer red blood cells will be produced. This will then result in decreased hemoglobin levels. This results in less oxygen to the muscles, which will then decrease performance levels. An iron supplement in tablet form is often recommended for vegetarians that participate in an endurance sport such as triathlon.
What food types would a typical Vegan athlete eat during the course of the day?
A true vegan who competes in endurance sport may not have it easy when it comes to supplying the body with enough calories to ensure peak performance during training sessions. What sort of food types would be recommended for a vegan endurance athlete?
- Oatmeal topped with almonds and goji berries would be one simple meal that comes to mind
- A blender is one essential kitchen appliance that a fully-fledged vegan cannot live without. Becoming a smoothie connoisseur is part of the fun when it comes to whipping up a few different smoothie options on a daily basis. Packed with a vast array of nutrients, a smoothie also allows the body a “rest” from always breaking down the food intake as the smoothie appliance normally does this job for you
- Macro-nutrients. This energy (calorie intake) forms the basis of a vegan’s fuel intake and consists of 3 basic groups in the form of carbohydrates/proteins and fats. Macro dense foods also contain your micro-nutrients consisting of vitamins and minerals
- Probiotics are especially essential for endurance athletes as they are used as a recovery tool. This is an essential friendly bacteria that help to promote a healthier immune system. They assist with antioxidant absorption and help the body fight free radicals. This is most important after a workout routine. They will also support the immune system. This then protects you from falling ill and helps fight off those ill-health intruders.
5 Plant-based foods packed with probiotics:
- Miso – a staple in Japanese cuisine
- Kefir – a popular health drink
- Kimchi – a spicy Korean condiment similar to sauerkraut
- Kombucha – A raw, fermented, probiotic naturally carbonated tea
A typical ‘see’ food recipe that triathletes tend to appreciate
If we did not know any better, we would assume that the sport of triathlon originated in Italy. It can be quite staggering how much pasta we consume at times! There is no pre-race function without the obligatory PASTA PARTY. We eat huge amounts of pasta on the run-up to an event. As a quick-make meal at home for the time-pressed athlete, the pasta dish is seen as a regular weekly dietary meal in the majority of triathlete homes the globe over.
Download our recipe book now, which is filled with plenty of pasta dishes, as well as other recipes to aid training and recovery. Whether you’re vegetarian or gluten-free, we have you covered!
There are so many different recipes that one could follow. The lists are endless! Hopefully, some of the recommendations contained herein might just tick the box for your next tri-fitness meal