Sunday, October 13, 2013

Eat Like a Triathlete

Ever wonder what it's like to eat like a triathlete? Three sports in one means you can eat whatever you want, right? Ironman Kona was yesterday, and when you think about the Ironman you think about the hours and hours of hard work these athletes have put towards achieving their goals. I however, tend to think about the thousands among thousands of calories that these athletes consume each week to support their lifestyle and optimize performance and recovery. Eating enough is crucial to maintaining an appropriate weight and ensuring adequate energy to support the training, but what goes into those calories can often determine the ultimate success of the athlete.

The November issue of Triathlete Magazine features this article highlighting the nutritional approaches of five different triathletes and dietitians and of course I just HAD to share!

Click to access full article: PDF sourced from

Thank you Triathlete Magazine for a little RD love!

Other than the fact that a little photography magic can make healthy food look amazing, here are a few of the main takeaway points:

  1. Training keep you busy? Crock Pot meals can be a useful tool to make sure you have a healthy meal ready at the end of those long training sessions.
  2. A little planning goes a long way! Brainstorm ahead of time your meals and fuels of choice for the week. Grab and go on the fly usually results in less than stellar nutritional choices, not to mention more stress.
  3. Planned leftovers can help keep portions in check and work to streamline efforts in the kitchen!
  4. Focus on eating a variety of whole foods from different food groups. Balance is key. Choose to snack on nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and whole grains over processed 'energy bars' and convenience foods.
  5. Quality over quantity. Good nutrition is less about nutrition and more about choosing quality fuels to meet the high demands of training. Making wise choices from each food group, balancing calories and nutrient timing are simple nutritional strategies to reach peak performance. 
  6. Race specific: It may be a good idea to limit fiber in the days leading up to races. Too much fiber can keep things from moving along as they should!
Check out this article to learn more about what Mirinda Carfrae, the 2013 Women's Ironman World Champion, eats in the days leading up to an Ironman!
Picture from

What's the biggest takeaway I found from this article?

Everyone's fueling needs and ideal approach to meeting them is different. Just because one athlete is successful following a certain nutrition plan doesn't mean it will work for you. It's important to identify your specific needs and rely on reputable resources to find the best approach to optimize fueling (a dietitian can help!)...and don't forget to practice, practice, practice during training!

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