(A basic overview as nutrition relates to training, for more detailed &
personalized information on diet see a Registered Dietitian)
Most of us know the basics of eating well, if you have a balanced healthy
diet there is no need to change your eating habits when you start tri
training. If you feel like your regular diet is lacking then you may want to
consider making some positive changes in your diet as well as your
training! A healthy diet is particularly important for athletes to fight off
colds and flu, maintain good energy levels and avoid injury.
Water: the essential nutrient
H2O is necessary in daily life but even more so while you are training. It is
key to figure out a hydration strategy that works for you, there are loads of
products out there to help you hydrate on the run – a basic sports water
bottle will fill most needs.
How much water to drink? Check out your pee – if it’s dark yellow you
need more water, if it’s light you are properly hydrated.
This is the time for easily digestible carbs. The best time to eat is about 2
hours before your workout – this is not always practical so make sure you
know a few things you can eat before training that sit well in your
Water, sports drinks and sports gels. Your main goal is to replace lost fluids
and electrolytes. In shorter distance racing you don’t need to worry too
much about replacing calories – training nutrition becomes extremely
important during longer distance races. Sodium losses from shorter
distance training can be replaced by most sport drinks, supplements may
be needed in extremely hot temperatures or during long distance training
and racing. Keep in mind that some gels and chews have caffeine in
them, if you don’t drink coffee or ‘use’ caffeine in your regular life then be
wary of trying a caffeinated product while you’re working out.
Immediately after exercising try and take in a recovery drink of fast
digesting carbs (chocolate milk works great!) this will restore some of the
muscle glycogen you just used up and start the recovery process. Then
within 60-90 minutes eat a good meal with wholesome carbs and protein.
This window is important, after 90 minutes your body is far less receptive
the absorbing the nutrients and you will take longer to recover.
A note about Carbohydrates.
Triathletes should appreciate that carbs are the body’s major source of fuel, the low/no-carb lifestyle does not often work well with training. If your carbohydrate intake does not provide a sufficient amount of fuel for your workouts and recovery you will not perform at your best. Don’t break out the wonder bread just yet! There are many ways to eat a diet rich in carbs that is also low in gluten and sugar.
A carbohydrate can be simple (one or two molecules) or complex (with up to thousands of molecules). Simple carbs, often called “sugars” are easy to digest and have their place especially while training or racing. While simple carbs have been demonized they are not all bad a more useful way of distinguishing carbs is between refined and wholesome. Fruits contain simple carbohydrates but are jam-packed with nutrients. Whereas products made from refined white flour contain complex carbs but far fewer vitamins and minerals.