Weight Loss

Triathlon Diet Tricks to Optimize Efficiency – Kelly Jones Diet

Between swimming, operating, biking, power coaching, stretching, and brick exercises, there’s lots that goes right into a triathlon coaching plan. Sadly, with a lot time and power invested into staying in peak form as a multi-sport athlete, it may be simple to miss diet and the vital function it performs in reaching your targets as a triathlete. On prime of that, diet misinformation can lead even the triathletes who are prioritizing diet down a path that truly harms their efficiency. On this publish we’ll cowl the fundamentals of triathlon diet, together with frequent diet points triathletes face, what to eat earlier than, throughout, and after a exercise, and how you can optimize diet for efficiency on race day.

Frequent Triathlon Diet Points

As a result of triathlon coaching and competitors is so taxing on the physique, correct diet is important not solely to gasoline your efficiency but additionally to facilitate restoration. Just a few diet points that generally come up for triathletes embody underfueling, dehydration, and GI misery.


Not consuming sufficient to assist your exercise degree (also referred to as low power availability) can result in not solely the dreaded bonk, but additionally to a variety of long-term penalties for psychological well being, bodily well being, and efficiency together with:

  • Elevated harm danger
  • Decreased glycogen (the carbs saved in your physique that gasoline your exercises)
  • Irritability, nervousness, and melancholy
  • Poor bone well being
  • Gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and menstrual dysfunction
  • Decreased muscle power and endurance efficiency

triathlon nutrition underfueling

Due to the excessive power output related to triathlon coaching, underfueling can simply happen unintentionally, which is why prioritizing enough consumption on a day-to-day foundation is important. Moreover, a heightened give attention to “race weight” can set off disordered consuming and/or power underfueling. To be taught extra about how restrictive diets can hurt efficiency and well being, take a look at this publish on Ditching The Weight loss program Mentality for Efficiency.


With any type of endurance coaching comes an elevated danger of dehydration, and when you’re coaching in a scorching setting, that danger is even increased. Sustaining enough hydration standing is important not solely in your common well being and nicely being, but additionally for maximizing bodily efficiency. 

When fascinated about the function of hydration in your triathlon diet plan, counting on thirst alone isn’t going to chop it. Thirst is much less delicate if you train and received’t kick in till you’ve misplaced 1-2% of your physique weight in fluid, at which level, you’ll already be experiencing a decline in cardio efficiency means, a lower in blood quantity, and problem releasing warmth by way of sweat (because you don’t have as a lot fluid to lose). On prime of that, consuming simply sufficient water to quench your thirst isn’t sufficient to fully rehydrate you. In gentle of this, it’s important for athletes to anticipate their thirst by staying hydrated all through the day, maintaining loads of fluids available throughout a exercise, and replenishing post-workout. A straightforward method to assess your hydration standing is to guarantee that the coloration of your pee stays comparatively gentle or pale yellow.

hydration for triathlon

To make sure optimum hydration, be sure you change not solely water, but additionally the electrolytes misplaced by way of sweat. Sodium is misplaced within the best quantity, however different electrolytes together with potassium, magnesium, and calcium are misplaced in sweat in smaller quantities, too. Consuming enough carbohydrate can also be vital for correct hydration, since every gram of carbohydrate saved within the physique holds on to three ml of fluid. Sports activities drink powders from manufacturers like Skratch and Clif present each carbs and electrolytes that may make it easier to keep away from dehydration and its signs. Nuun and Now make hydration dietary supplements that present solely electrolytes, which is usually a good choice if you’re ingesting simply digestible carbs together with it, like on this Electrolyte Restoration Smoothie recipe. Some further suggestions for hydration are included within the graphic above – and when you’re coaching with lengthy length and/or excessive depth, these apply year-round, not simply in the summertime!

GI misery

There’s nothing worse than setting out for a tough coaching session or race and discovering your self crippled by gastrointestinal (GI) signs like belly ache and cramping, nausea, bloating, vomiting, and diarrhea. GI misery is a typical concern for triathletes, however happily, enjoying round with what and if you eat earlier than your exercises might be extraordinarily useful in managing and stopping GI signs. Within the subsequent part, we’ll cowl how you can construct pre- and intra-workout fueling into your triathlon diet plan in addition to how you can prepare your intestine to keep away from abdomen discomfort.

What to Eat Earlier than, Throughout, and After Triathlon Coaching

Now that you just’re conscious of a few of the most typical triathlon diet points, let’s dive into some particular issues and examples for pre-, intra-, and post-workout gasoline. We’ll give attention to meals right here, however fluids and electrolytes are additionally vital in any respect three of those levels to keep up hydration standing.

Pre-workout triathlon diet

Since carbohydrates are probably the most environment friendly supply of power in your muscle tissue throughout a coaching session, you’ll need to devour loads of simply digestible carbs pre-workout. Meals excessive in fats, fiber, and protein, then again, are an vital a part of your each day weight loss plan however take longer to digest and should trigger some GI misery if consumed in massive quantities too near a exercise. 

Along with your macronutrient steadiness, the timing of your pre-workout gasoline can also be important on the subject of optimizing power ranges and avoiding GI signs. Should you’re planning on consuming a full meal pre-workout, achieve this not less than 3 hours earlier than you head out to offer your physique time to digest. About an hour earlier than you prepare, take into account topping off your power shops with a carbohydrate-rich snack that’s decrease in fats, fiber, and protein. Should you’re lower than half-hour away out of your exercise time, you’ll need to decide for easy carbs solely.

energy balls pre-workout snack

Listed here are some pre-workout meal and snack concepts that put the following tips into observe. Take into account that power wants and digestion time range from individual to individual, so there might be a point of trial and error to find out what works greatest in your particular person triathlon diet plan. Moreover, the optimum timing for pre-workout gasoline might differ relying on the game. For instance, you could discover {that a} snack consumed an hour prematurely sits tremendous with you on the bike however that you just require extra digestion time earlier than a swim exercise.

  • 3-4 hours earlier than a exercise: Eat a meal that features carbohydrate-rich meals paired with reasonable quantities of fats, fiber, and protein. Some examples embody eggs with toast, a pesto grain bowl, or a tuna sandwich. Serve this stuff with carbohydrate-rich sides like fruit, crackers, or a glass of soy or dairy milk.
  • 60-90 minutes earlier than a exercise: Select a carbohydrate-rich snack with a little bit of protein or fats, like a banana with nut butter, pita with hummus, or selfmade snack bites.
  • <30 minutes earlier than a exercise: Keep on with easy carbs like 100% fruit juice, a honey packet, or a sports activities gel for straightforward digestion.

Intra-workout triathlon diet

Many years of sports activities diet analysis exhibits that consumption of carbohydrates throughout endurance train is linked with enhanced efficiency. Primarily based on the out there proof, the Academy of Diet & Dietetics place paper on diet for athletic efficiency recommends 30-60g carbohydrate per hour of endurance train and as much as 90g per hour throughout ultra-endurance actions lasting greater than 2.5-3 hours. That is along with consuming a carbohydrate-rich snack pre-workout.

Some merchandise that may make it easier to meet your intra-fueling wants embody: 

Should you’re not used to fueling throughout your exercises, construct up slowly to fulfill the suggestions. Should you go from consuming nothing in any respect throughout exercises to consuming 60 grams of carbs per hour of exercise, you could expertise GI discomfort — this doesn’t imply you can’t tolerate intra-workout gasoline, however slightly that your physique wants time to regulate. Carbs are important for optimum triathlon diet, so when you’re struggling to include them throughout your exercise, take a look at our publish on Coaching Your Intestine for Athletic Efficiency and the graphic beneath for some sensible methods.

training your gut for endurance exercise

Submit-workout triathlon diet

The macronutrients to prioritize post-workout are protein for muscle restore and carbohydrates to refuel you. The advice for post-workout protein consumption varies based on physique dimension and composition, however round 20 grams is an effective body of reference. If you need a extra exact estimate, use the vary 0.25-0.3 grams per kilogram of physique weight. 

Pairing carbohydrates with protein will assist your physique correctly get better and refuel in your subsequent exercise. Carbs additionally serve a protein-sparing operate, which means that by offering your cells with the power they want, they allow protein for use for muscle synthesis and restore slightly than for power.

Ideally, you’ll begin refueling inside 1 hour of ending your exercise. Listed here are some post-workout snack concepts that can make it easier to get protein and carbs in rapidly and tide you over to your subsequent meal: 

Should you discover that your urge for food is suppressed after exercises, strive a smoothie — it’s an effective way to devour the vitamins you want post-workout in a format which may be simpler to get down. The graphic beneath from our sister website Scholar Athlete Diet exhibits the parts of a balanced post-workout smoothie.

post-workout smoothie

Should you’re hungry for a meal post-workout and have time to make one immediately, you’ll be able to at all times bounce straight to that, too! Listed here are some recipes that present loads of protein and carbs:

Race Day Diet for Triathletes


All the triathlon diet issues mentioned above apply on race day, too, however an important factor is to stay to acquainted meals that you tolerate nicely. Should you normally have oatmeal earlier than morning coaching classes, follow oatmeal —  race day is NOT the time to strive one thing new. 

Should you don’t normally prepare early within the morning, you could discover it useful to observe doing a high-intensity morning exercise a few instances within the weeks main as much as the race. You should utilize these coaching classes to see how your physique responds to totally different fueling methods very first thing within the morning and see what works greatest for you. Some concepts for pre-competition breakfasts that are usually nicely tolerated are proven within the graphic beneath. 

race day breakfast triathlon

Intra-race fueling & hydration

The identical recommendation goes for fueling throughout your race — follow sports activities fueling merchandise you tolerate nicely, and observe utilizing them in your coaching classes. See the part above on intra-workout fueling for steerage on how a lot carbohydrate you need to be taking in primarily based on the anticipated length of your race. 

intra-race fueling triathlon

You’ll want to have a plan for each hydration and fueling. Place water bottles in your bike prematurely and resolve how you’ll retailer any sports activities gels, chews, or bars throughout the race. Many athletes tape their gasoline to the body of their bike or use the pockets of their triathlon equipment. You might also take into account getting a fueling/hydration belt for longer races when you don’t need to rely solely on assist stations for water throughout the run. If the race is in a warmer local weather than you might be used to, you’ll need further fluids and electrolytes to compensate for elevated sweat losses.

Carb loading

What in regards to the night time earlier than the race? Is carb loading crucial? Must you eat pasta and nothing else the night time earlier than? Sure and no. You’ll need to eat a carbohydrate-rich meal the night time earlier than a race, but it surely’s not essential to eat solely carbs. Stability out your plate with a little bit of protein and fats, too. 

carbohydrate loading

Moreover, take into account upping your carb consumption for 2-3 days earlier than your race, not simply the night time earlier than. Analysis signifies that consuming 10-12 g/kg/day carbohydrate for the 48 hours main as much as a race might enhance efficiency, notably for longer distance races that final 90 minutes or extra (suppose Olympic distance triathlons, Half Ironmans, and Ironmans). This could equate to roughly 750 grams of carbohydrate per day for an athlete who weighs 150 lbs and roughly 1,250 grams of carbohydrate for an athlete who weighs 250 lbs. For reference, an apple or banana incorporates round 25 grams of carbohydrate, two slices of bread incorporates round 30 grams of carbohydrate, and a cup of cooked grain incorporates round 50 grams of carbohydrate. By incorporating further carbohydrate into your triathlon diet plan within the days main as much as the race, you might be maximizing the quantity of carbohydrate saved in your muscle tissue as glycogen, which can profit your power ranges throughout the race. Moreover, carbohydrate loading enhances hydration, since glycogen holds water within the physique.

Take into account that the kind of carbs issues, too. The cliche of consuming pasta is heading in the right direction since pasta offers easy carbohydrates which are simply digestible. Rice, bread, tortillas, fruit, oats, and potatoes are additionally nice choices for carb loading. Keep away from very excessive fiber sources of carbohydrate like beans, lentils, and cruciferous greens which will put extra stress in your GI tract main as much as the race. Pairing carbs with wealthy meals like cream sauces or deep fried objects can also be taxing on the GI system the day earlier than a race, so follow easy sides and sauces.

Triathlon Diet: Key Takeaways

Triathlon is an intense sport each bodily and mentally, and consuming enough power by way of balanced meals and snacks is important to optimize efficiency. Diet wants are nuanced and extremely individualized, however listed below are some key takeaways:

  • Underfueling, dehydration, and GI misery are a few of the most typical diet points triathletes face, however might be averted with cautious planning.
  • Concentrate on carbs for gasoline instantly earlier than and through a exercise and carbs + protein for restoration after a exercise. In any respect different meals and snacks, devour a steadiness of protein, carbs, fats, and fiber.
  • Keep on with acquainted meals on race day, and take into account growing carb consumption for 2-3 days beforehand to prime off power shops.

Want assist creating an individualized triathlon diet plan? We’d love to assist! Study extra about our 1-1 diet teaching providers right here.


Journalist specialized in online marketing as Social Media Manager. I help professionals and companies to become more Internet and online reputation, which allows to give life to the Social Media Strategies defined for the Company, and thus immortalize brands, products and services. I have participated as an exhibitor in various forums nationally and internationally, I am the author of several articles in digital magazines and Blogs.

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