Nutrition for triathlon, what to keep in mind

Nutrition for triathlon, what to keep in mind

Jul 24, 2023

When your swim-bike-run training is going well and you decide to register for your race, you need to start thinking about how you want to tackle your race nutrition. If you read the previous blogs, you already have a lot of knowledge, but let’s resume what you need to consider before toeing the start line.

Ask yourself the following questions…

… To determine your pre-race fuel;

  1. “Do I get gut upset from specific foods?”

Do you have any intolerances or allergies? If yes, avoid them at all costs the days before and the day of your race, even if that means you need to eat one sided for those few days or skip the ‘healthy’ stuff like raw veggies and high fiber foods.
You want to go easy on your gut, so you don’t experience problems during the race.

For example, if you’re sensitive to gluten, focus on eating rice-based meals. If you get easily bloated from certain fruits or (raw) vegetables, don’t eat them. Pre-race nutrition doesn’t need to be ‘healthy’ to be good for you in that moment. 

  1. “How is my current nutrition going?”

Do you have a favorite pre-race or pre tempo session meal that gives you long lasting energy and feels good in your stomach and gut? Good, you found your pre-race meal!
If not, test out some different meals +/- 3 hours before some key tempo sessions.
Some examples;

  • White rice with honey and chicken
  • White toast with jam and cottage cheese
  • White pasta with ketchup and chicken

Note that all these examples have a mix of slower carbs, faster carbs and a small amount of protein to prevent a fast rise (and afterwards a dip) in blood glucose levels. The meals are low on fat, because fat slows down digestion.

  1. “How long am I estimating to race?”

If you are estimating to race longer than 1,5 hours, carb loading comes into the picture. Together with reducing your training volume when tapering the week before the race, you can start to focus specifically on foods that are rich in carbohydrates (like grains, bread, and sweet toppings/drinks). This way, you are filling up your glycogen stores and fill your ‘fuel tank’ maximally. If you have access to a counting tool, reach for 8-10 grams of carbohydrates for each kilogram of your body weight per day (so 560-700 gram for someone of 70kg). Try to spread this out over multiple meals and snacks during the day. 

The last 2 days before the race, you can focus on foods that are low in fiber or fat to ease digestion. Don’t overdo it, listen to your fullness cues.

  1. “What is the weather going to be like?”
Of course, you always need to be fully hydrated before the start, but if the weather will be hot and humid, you might slip in some extra electrolytes, like the Amacx hydro tabs, the days before the race and before the start.

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