Triathlon is an endurance sport, a long distance athletic race that consists of three phases. Training regimen for triathlon requires proper nutrition to boost energy as you spend hours biking, swimming and running. Food fuels up your body to maximize physical performance and stamina. What you eat spells the difference between success and failure when competition comes. So a healthy diet should be included in your lifestyle if you want your training to give you great results.
High Soluble Fiber Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are organic compounds which include sugar, starches and cellulose. When carbohydrates could not be fully digested in the form of insoluble fibers, they remain in the intestine. You may feel discomfort, lethargic, full or bloated while training because these insoluble fibers are not absorbed by the body.
On the other hand, soluble fiber forms a gel when it interacts with water. It slows digestion so you have stored energy to be used during the long hours of training. To develop full speed and stamina a week before the race, you may turn to simple carbohydrates that are easily digestible such as oats, white bread, white rice (0.8 gram of insoluble fiber per 1/2-cup serving), barley, skinless nuts and seeds. Avoid high insoluble fiber carbohydrates such as wheat bran, all bran cereals, whole grains and whole grain products.
Carbohydrates in the form of glucose are the main energy source of the body. It has the following health benefits: keeps the cholesterol levels in check, fuels different internal organs such as brain, heart, muscles, central nervous system; aids in digestion and weight loss.
Proteins are organic compounds made up of amino acids, the building blocks of body tissues. In triathlon training they improve memory, thinking ability and resistance to stress which keep you smart and sharp. For an athlete, it is important to make quick decisions and be alert. Just a few seconds of indecision and staying out of focus can cost you a winning moment. Proteins also rebuild muscles after the training and repair cells to maintain energy and vitality. Sources of lean proteins are:
- Seafoods – great sources of proteins because it is low in fat such as cod, flounder, salmon (good fat), clams, haddock, lobster, mahi-mahi, scallops, hake, tuna, shrimp.
- White-meat poultry such as chicken breast without the skin. Darker meat such as leg is higher in fats.
- Milk and dairy products such as cheese and yogurt not only are excellent sources of protein, they are rich in calcium as well and fortified with vitamin D. They keep bones healthy and strong.
- Eggs are best sources of proteins and rich in vitamins as well. Choose organic eggs from free-range chicken.
- Nuts and seeds – rich in proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats such as cashew, pistachio, walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds
- Protein shakes are an excellent way to boost your intake especially after a hard training session (click here for some recommendations)
More Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamins and minerals needed by the body for its metabolism and to function well. A daily dose of these nutrient packed foods lessen oxidative damage and inflammation caused by your rigorous training. Fruits and vegetables are another source of liquid the body needs to function well. Here are the list of highly recommended fruits and vegetables for triathlon training:
- Fruits – pears, berries, bananas, apples, avocado, peaches, plums, blood oranges, cherries, dates, raisins, grapefruits, cantaloupe, grapes, pineapple, mango, papaya, melons.
- Vegetables – celery stalks and roots, apricots, cabbage, kale, zucchini, spinach, squash, broccoli.
Eat Balanced Breakfast
Full and well-balanced breakfast in the morning can power you up to see you through in the morning. Steel-cut oats produce the most delicious and healthy oatmeal and top it with your favorite fruits, nuts, milk and hard boiled eggs. Try to use soya milk or coconut milk to have variety of flavor and nutrients.
To ensure you get your daily nutrition requirements, eat a lot of fruits and vegetables by turning them into smoothies or salad. Couple the salad or smoothie with protein such as oven baked chicken breast, grilled salmon or tuna, eggs and wash them with milk or fruit juices. Add some slices of bread, baked or boiled potato topped with sour cream, a couple of muffins or bagel and you’re ready to face the day.
Plan Healthy Snacks
Choose clean-eating snacks and create varieties so you can enjoy this healthy between meals food. You can pair fruits with Greek yogurt; slices of apples and cheese; banana drizzled with honey; peach and brie. As a source of protein, you can bring beef jerky, hard-boiled eggs, a small Ziplock bag of nuts and seeds. If you need to have more carbohydrates you can have fruits/vegetables muffins, energy bar or sandwiches.
Internal organs such as brain, heart, lungs, muscles and kidney contain 71 to 83 % water according to the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Liquid transports carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals into the bloodstream and allows cells to grow and reproduce.. During physical training, it acts as shock absorber of brain and spinal cord; helps deliver oxygen in different parts of the body, lubricates the joints and regulates internal body temperature through respiration.
Different body types have different water percentages ranging from 55% for women to 60% for men. Water consumption depends on metabolism, physical activities, weather and altitude. Aside from energy drink, stay hydrated by bringing along with you a bottle of water to drink as much as possible. Whenever you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated to a degree.
Proper hydration keeps you more focused, have greater clarity and energy. It affects brain functions which make you think faster and move quicker. So, keep hydrated at all times to maintain your concentration levels and energy.
Count Your Macros
Macronutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, are important to prepare and support you on the training and upcoming race. It is crucial to keep them in the right amounts based on what type of athlete you are, the intensity of the training sessions and your metabolism. Keeping tab of your macros ensure that you get your daily nutrition requirements to maintain desired body weight, body composition and your general wellbeing.