You are only as good as the fuel you put in your body. Beyond training, proper nutrition is the key to obtain physical fitness goals. However, due to differences in body type, training activity, stage of training, and intensity of training there is no single nutrition plan for every triathlete.

transition-example-128x300

Even though nutrition is very individualized there are some basic nutritional guidelines that can help any triathlete during training.

  • Calories
    • Don’t skimp on calories because you are trying to lose weight. Skimping on calories may cause the body to break down muscle protein, which can hinder performance. Rather, gauge adequate calorie intake by having a stable weight where performance does not decline.
  • Power Mix
    • Packing the right amount of food is only half the battle. Packing the right combination of carbohydrates, protein, fat and fluid is key to a triathlete’s performance. Choose foods that are nutrient dense meaning the food items has more nutrients per calorie. For example: Ice Tea is a fluid that can help with rehydration but choosing low-fat chocolate milk is a better option as it provides the body with high quality protein, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates.
        • Protein
          • 6-0.9 grams/pound body weight
        • Carbohydrates
          • 1 hr/day exercise – 2.7-3.2 grams/pound body weight
          • 2 hr/day exercise – 3.6 grams/pound body weight
          • 3 hr/day exercise – 4.5 grams/pound body weight
          • 4 hr/day exercise – 5.4-5.9 grams/pound body weight

      water-snakcs

  • Hydration
    • Water leaves our bodies via breathing, sweating and regular use of the restrooms. Without adding other variables such as physical activity and changes in temperature our body requires 2.5 liters of water per day. Planning training and competitions in regard to hydration with help keep a triathlete at peak performance.
    • Fluid Intake Guidelines
      • Within 2 hours of exercise – 14-22 oz (water + carbs + electrolytes)
      • Within 10-20 minutes of exercise – 7-10 oz ( water)
      • During exercise – 6-12 oz every 15-20 minutes
      • After exercise – 3 cups for every pound of weight loss
  • Timing
    • Understanding how your body performs with food is of great importance to pre, mid, and post-competition consumption. Since triathlons occur over several hours and utilize several muscle groups it is important to make sure carbohydrates are available for energy replacement, fluids are available to hydrate and rehydrate, and protein is available for muscle repair, maintenance, and growth.

Bottom line, a peak performance diet plan is an essential part of every triathlete’s training program. While no two diets are alike, every diet plan should start with a balance of the essential nutrients: Protein, Carbohydrates, Fat and Fluid.