If you’re an athlete, fueling your body adequately is essential to enhance physical performance and recovery. More than that, fueling with the right foods at the right times can make all the difference when it comes to getting the most from your training session.For triathletes, training for three sports at the same places places a high demand on the body’s energy stores, making it important to fuel yourself so that you can sustain work through training and maintain energy overall. If you’re wondering what to eat for triathlon training, this article is a great first step!
Why fueling for triathlon training is important
Eating right and at the right time is crucial for optimal performance. But you also need to do it right to prevent delayed onset muscle fatigue, stabilise blood glucose levels, enhance and maintain concentration, aid recovery and support consistency in training. Making sure you have all these aspects covered will put in a the best position possible not only for training and prep, but for race day too.
The fundamentals of triathlon training nutrition
As your first port of call, your training diet should be varied and periodised depending on your training needs for specific days, weeks and phases of your training programme as a whole. Ensure you are fuelling for the work you’re going to do. Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred fuel source, so you would increase your carbohydrate intake for higher-intensity training sessions, days or phases. This is especially essential if you want to perform at a high-intensity for a prolonged session or throughout the week.
The second fundamental to consider is all about the WHEN. It’s important that you are selecting the right fuel source for the right time of day. Remember, these details will change the closer to training time. This is because food consumed closer to training will have less time to be broken down and stored by the digestive system, instead of used. Saying that, don’t eat too close to training time. Foods high in fibre, fat or protein that are eaten too close to physical activity can cause stomach upset, making it more difficult for the body to access the fuel it needs.
Here is a quick and simple formula you can follow:
2-4 HOURS BEFORE TRAINING – If you’re training later in the day, it will allow you to include a balanced main meal containing low-GI wholegrain carbs, lean protein, colourful fruit and veggies and a source of healthy fat beforehand. An example of this could be chicken, salad and avocado on a wholegrain roll. This will sustain your energy in the hours leading up to your session, and have adequate time to break down to be used for training. The ideal timing of this meal will depend on your, so do a few practice runs eating your main meal at different times before your training to see what makes you feel and perform at your best.
1-2 HOURS BEFORE TRAINING – This window is all about fueling with carbohydrates, while placing a minimal load on digestion. At this point, you want to include a high GI, high-carb snack, with a moderate amount of protein, fat and fibre. For example, Greek yoghurt, granola and fruit, or a fruit smoothie.
WITHIN 1 HOUR OF TRAINING – This is another window of opportunity to top up your carbohydrate stores. Since there won’t be enough time for complex digestion here, it’s important to keep this snack a high-GI choice, with low amounts of protein, fat and fibre. Some great options are a piece of fruit or toast with jam or honey.
Depending on the duration and effort required for your upcoming training session, you may only need one of the above-mentioned snack options, choosing the one that will fit into your schedule the most easily. If you know your session of going to be particularly long or challenging, then you can include the snack and the top-up snack.
Taking the time to plan your pre-training fuel in advance is a worthwhile labour of love. It has the potential to significantly enhance your performance. If you need more help and guidance, book your first appointment with Verde Nutrition and we can start working on it together.
Want more like this? Check out my grains for muscle grains article!