What are the most common nutrition mistakes for a triathlete?
Getting the balance right between training and nutrition can be overwhelming, so we’ve narrowed down the top mistakes made by endurance athletes and easy fixes for these.
Problem: Eating too little food to support training
The fix: Endurance athletes can cover a serious amount of mileage on the bike, run and/or swim each week and it can be hard to eat the appropriate amount of food to support this volume of training. Using a calorie counter app. can be a useful tool to ensure you are hitting your required amount of calories each week to support your training.
Problem: I keep getting sick and/or injured during the training season
The fix: The bulk of an endurance athletes diet should consist of carbohydrate based foods to provide the body with the fuel to perform high intensity activity. However if the majority of carbohydrate based foods are refined they are low in micronutrients or vitamins and minerals. Micronutrients support a multitude of important processes which support the health of the body while also play a role in many processes which are important for optimum performance. They ensure food is broken down properly to provide the body with energy, support a proper functioning immune system, muscle contraction, nerve impulses, reduce inflammation, and support bone health. Wholegrain breads, rice, pasta, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, fruit and vegetables provide the body with energy but are also packed full of micronutrients. Therefore, during training you should get your carbohydrate from these foods rather that more white and refined carbohydrates. Protein based foods such as; dairy, meat, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds also contain high volumes of micronutrients. In fact in a 2011 study it was found that cyclists who increased their protein intake to 3g of protein per kg body weight per day compared to those that consumed 1.5g of protein per day were able to maintain their immune function more effectively during a period of intense training. Therefore, consuming a high protein intake may be beneficial for the immune system during intensified periods of training. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey™ Protein is a convenient option to increase high quality protein intake around training.
Problem: Not recovering properly to sustain intensity during subsequent training sessions
The fix: Carbohydrate foods refuel the body while protein based foods provide the body with the building blocks to repair and regenerate damaged muscle. It is important to consume both of these macronutrients during the recovery period to optimise recovery. Traditionally endurance athletes thought that increased amounts of protein would lead to increase muscle mass. However, an increase in muscle mass can only be facilitated through an appropriate resistance exercise programme which is complemented by consuming protein. As the body cannot store protein providing the body with protein around exercise will ensure the muscle has the building blocks it requires to repair and regenerate damaged muscle fibres after training. Although we would always recommend getting the bulk of your macronutrients from food in some instances, particularly after training it is more convenient to get them in a supplement format. OPTIMUM NUTRITION Glycomaize™ is a great solution to increase carbohydrate intake after training to help replenish glycogen stores and combined with Protein you can hit two of the most important recovery goals; repair and refuel. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey™ Protein provides the muscle with a fast delivery of amino acids after training. Optimizing recovery through the intake of carbohydrate and protein will ensure the body is ready to train intensely for your next session. Proper recovery is the ultimate preparation for your next session.
Problem: Trying out new fueling strategies on the day of the race rather than in training is a common mistake.
The fix: Training is the time to experiment which types of foods and supplements support your race day performance maximally. It is important to trial each food you eat during race day and the timing of intake to avoid stomach discomfort and ensure you are maximising energy levels. You should simulate a race day a few weeks before the race; get up at the same time as you will on race day and each your breakfast and pre-race snacks before doing a session similar to a race. Practice your ‘during the race’ nutrition strategies continually during training and more frequently on the lead up race day.
The problem: Drinking too much or too little.
The fix: Maintaining hydration levels is essential for performance, both physically & mentally. It is important to start each training session and race well hydrated, take on-board the right amount of fluids during the event/training and restore hydration levels as soon as possible afterwards in order to replace the water and salts lost in sweating. It is important to evaluate your sweat losses and fluid needs during training. Drinking too much fluid can be as dangerous as not drinking enough. Keeping track of body weight before & after exercise and monitoring changes in urine colour for example can help assess hydration status. Try Gold Standard BCAA Train & Recover™ to top up fluid levels and help you keep going whilst supporting your immune system and reducing tiredness, so you can get the most out of your exercise and be ready to go again.
Williamson E., et al., 2016. Nutritional implications for ultra endurance walking and running events. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5117571/
Jeukendrup AE. 2005. Nutritional Considerations in Triathlon. https://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00007256-200535020-00005
Witard OC., et al. Effect of increased dietary protein on tolerance to intensified training. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20798660