Triathlon is a very demanding sport regardless of which version you choose. It requires plenty of endurance, long hours of training and smart refuelling. The longer your training and chosen distances, the more you should eat, but the principles remain the same.
1. Planning your meals is crucial to make sure you get enough energy and nutrients in a day, particularly if you have more than one training session daily. You should have three to four main meals and snacks in between – and during training too.
2. Endurance sports require an increased intake of carbs so make sure you base your main meals around oats, brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, wholemeal bread, sweet and regular potatoes and corn. And snacks should include fresh and dried fruit, oat and rice cakes, oat and fruit bars, smoothies and popcorn. Before competitions, carb-loading – higher-than-normal carb intake – helps to maximise the glycogen reserves in your muscles.
3. Your muscles are working hard so you need some extra protein. Post-training, you should eat/drink 20-40 g dose of protein for muscle recovery. This could be a protein shake or smoothie, or you can add protein powder to a bowl of muesli, have a protein bar or feast on a can of baked beans and wholemeal bread.
4. Hydration is crucial. Burning a lot of energy also means using up a lot of water. If you don’t replenish lost fluids, you’ll get tired sooner. If you train for an hour, water is enough but for longer training, an isotonic drink can be a lifesaver.
5. As triathlon training is both demanding and time-consuming, you may need to increase the nutritional value of your meals to make sure you’re getting enough energy. This can mean adding nut butters and oats to your smoothies, adding extra beans or lentils in your soups and stews, thickening sauces with tahini (simply stir it in), increasing the sizes of your meals or having an extra snack before bed.
Inspiration: Stefhan Andersen, Antoine Jolicoeur Desroches, Ben Dame, Sebastjan Gergoric, Brendan Brazier, Rich Roll, Melissa Sundermann, Madi Serpico
Rich Roll, ultra triathlete and pioneer: “Adopting a plant-based lifestyle restored my vitality. It returned me to my fighting weight and kept me there. It supplied the fuel and enthusiasm to return to competitive athletics in my 40s and 50s.”