Diet plan for triathlon training is an important component of training for a triathlon. If you’re not eating right, you won’t be able to train at your best or race at your potential. This article is going to get into the details of what diet is needed for triathlon training, as well as strategies you can use to make sure you’re getting everything your body needs. I’m also going to cover some things that aren’t necessary, and some mistakes people make when they start on the triathlon diet plan.
Diet Plan For Triathlon Training
To fuel their training and recovery, triathletes require a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
Triathlon training is demanding and frequently calls for two exercises per day. Triathletes must find time to create and adhere to a triathlon food plan in addition to their training sessions, obligations to their families and employers, and other commitments.
What to eat before a triathlon plays a significant role in helping you build the strength and endurance you need for training and competition, whether this is your first triathlon or your tenth.
Consume Carbs for Fuel
You may not be eating enough carbohydrates if you find it difficult to complete your workout. According to the current dietary recommendations for Americans, you should consume 45 to 65 percent of your daily calories as carbs because they are your muscles’ preferred source of energy.
For instance, 900 to 1,300 of your daily 2,000 calories should come from carbohydrates. You should aim for 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates per day, with each gram containing 4 calories.
According to a January 2011 article from the British Journal of Sports Medicine, you’ll need 30 to 60 grams of carbs per hour (or 0.7 g/kg of body weight) when you’re out for a vigorous training session in order to keep your blood glucose levels stable.
The ideal source of these carbohydrates would be whole grains, fruits, beans, and vegetables. These foods not only give your body energy but also the vital nutrients it requires for healing and good health.
Pack on Protein for Muscle Recovery
Protein is a crucial part of a triathlete’s food plan since it provides the amino acids your muscles require for growth and recuperation. A June 2016 study from PLOS One found that protein demands varied from 1.2 to 1.4 grams protein/kg, depending on the volume and length of your training.
For instance, a 150-pound (68 kg) athlete who works out frequently needs between 81 and 95 grams of protein per day. Choose lean meat selections, such as poultry and fish, beans, nuts, seeds, and low-fat dairy items, to enhance your nutrient intake.
Fit in Fat for Optimal Function
You may be cautious about eating too much fat as a triathlete because you want to stay lean, yet proper fat consumption is necessary for training. Essential fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins, and energy are all provided by fat.
If there are any calories left in your diet after accounting for carbohydrates and protein, they should come from healthy fat sources such nuts, seeds, avocados, fatty fish like salmon, and vegetable oils.
In triathlon training, drinking water is just as crucial as eating the appropriate foods. According to the American Council on Exercise, you should drink 16 to 24 ounces of water for every pound of body weight you’ve lost after your event and between 17 and 20 ounces of water for every hour before exercise. You should eat 7 to 10 ounces every 10 to 20 minutes while competing in your triathlon.
Put Together Your Triathlon Meal Plan
Knowing how to put your triathlon meal plan together is crucial now that you are aware of what to consume. According to a report published in the Journal of Sports Sciences in August 2011, you should consume a high-carb, low-fat meal 2 to 4 hours prior to training. But, how you divide your meals depends on your schedule and tastes.
As noted earlier, longer training sessions will require 30 to 60 grams of carbs every hour. That equals: according to USA Triathlon.
- 2 to 2.5 grams per pound of your body weight for 60 minutes
- 2.5 to 3 grams per pound of your body weight for 75 to 90 minutes
- 3 to 3.5 grams per pound of your body weight for over 90 to 120 minutes
- 3.5 to 4 grams per pound of your body weight for 2 to 3 hours
And afterwards, to improve muscle recovery, eat a high-carb meal with a moderate amount of protein.
What to Eat Before a Triathlon
“Nothing new on race day” is the cornerstone of triathlon fueling. On the big day, avoid experimenting with novel foods or timing techniques.
Instead, you should practice these day-of timing and feeding techniques while you are exercising. Then, on the day of your triathlon, you’ll be fully aware of the foods that will settle in your stomach the fastest, the foods and drinks you’ll like most while racing, and your favorite foods for recovery.
- The night before: Eat a low-fiber high-carb meal, such as grilled chicken with white rice.
- The morning of: Eat a light, high-carb breakfast such as toast with egg whites and diluted juice. Drink a carb-containing sports drink one hour before the race.
- During: If your race lasts longer than an hour and a half, drink another carb-containing sports drink during the cycle portion of your race.
- Immediately following the race: Eat a carb and protein snack, such as cheese and crackers, to help with recovery.
- Throughout the day after the race: Eat a high-carb snack or meal with protein every 2 to 3 hours, such as cheese and fruit or fish with vegetables and rice.
What are the basic diet requirements for triathletes?
- Basic nutritional requirements are the foundation for healthy eating.
- When you eat enough food to meet basic requirements, you provide you body with just enough nutrients for energy and to maintain health and normal function.
- Growth, tissue damage, repair and stressful environments can increase nutritional needs.
What happens if triathletes are not meeting basic diet requirements?
- If triathletes are not eating enough food to meet basic diet requirements their bodies will not get enough nutrients and nutritional inadequacies may start to occur.
- Symptoms include chronic tiredness, frequent illness, poor concentration, poor performance and poor recovery.
What are the nutrients a triathlete needs and what do they do?
Provides the superior fuel source for muscles during physical exercise. Carbohydrate is stored in limited amounts only and needs to be continually replenished.
Helps keep bowels regular and can help reduce blood cholesterol. Triathletes may need to decrease fibre pre-competition to prevent gut problems.
Essential in the growth and repair of all body tissues, including muscle and bone; hormone and enzyme production; optimal immune function. Protein is also a minor source of energy.
Provides the most concentrated and largest source of energy. Fat provides most of the energy for daily activity. Required for normal growth and healthy skin, production of certain hormones, structural component of body cells, supply of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
Prevents dehydration, helps cool the body and acts as a transport medium. Stored in the body in limited amounts.
Vitamin B Complex
Involved in carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism. B12 and folate are required for red blood cell production.
Enhances iron absorption, acts as an antioxidant (antioxidants mop up free radicals, preventing cell damage), increases energy production, is necessary for the synthesis of collagen for the formation of connective tissue and bone.
An antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are substances that cause cell damage. As a result of greater oxygen uptake athletes have higher levels of free radicals. Antioxidants mop up free radicals, preventing cell damage.
Required for the formation of haemoglobin and myoglobin, the oxygen-carrying components of red blood cells and muscle cells respectively. Required for energy reactions to take place.
Required to build and maintain strong bones and teeth, essential for muscle function, blood clotting and nerve transmission.
Essential for normal growth, reproduction, immune system function and energy production in muscle cells.
Guidelines to meet basic triathlon training diet requirements
Each day, eat a variety of foods from all four major dietary groups (breads and cereals; vegetables and fruits; milk, dairy products and milk substitutes, especially low-fat varieties; lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and meat substitutes like lentils, chickpeas, soy beans and other beans).
Make meals with a minimum amount of salt and added fat (particularly saturated fat).
Choose prepared foods, beverages, and snacks that are low in salt and fat (particularly saturated fat).
Keep a healthy body weight by engaging in regular physical activity (marathon runners shouldn’t have any trouble with this!) and eating well. To learn more about triathletes’ weight management
Drink a lot of water every day.
Drink alcohol sparingly if you do. Learn how drinking affects how well you perform in sports.
Keep in mind that the aforementioned nutritional principles are broad ones and serve as the cornerstone of a balanced diet. Before working on your diet for training and competition, triathletes need to get their fundamental nutrition under control.
To make sure you consume the nutrients your body requires, triathletes should consume a wide variety of foods from each of the dietary groups (breads and cereals; vegetables and fruits; milk, dairy products, and milk substitutes; lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and nuts). You’ll also eat meals that are enjoyable and fascinating if you do this.
See a table with illustrations of serving sizes for the main food groups and the daily amount required to meet your basic nutritional needs.
7 Day Meal Plan For Triathletes
You likely spend a significant amount of time planning (and anticipating!) your diet, including your upcoming meals and snacks, as a hard-charging triathlon. The goal is to have a meal plan that is both time- and health-effectively satiating. This seven-day plan can help you pleasantly eat your way to the appropriate race weight by taking the guessing out of meals.
The Meal Plan
Although the seven-day plan is intended for one person, it is simple to modify for more diners. In order to save you time and money on ingredients for subsequent meals, meals were designed with leftovers in mind. The serving sizes are estimates for someone weighing between 130 and 160 pounds but may vary from person to person. The purpose of this meal plan is to provide you with ample servings of seasonal produce, which, in most cases, fills up at least half of your plate. Protein and carbs make up the remaining half of the body. If you require larger portions, start by adding more produce or protein; if you need smaller portions, reduce the amount of protein or/and carbohydrates.
Triathlete Diet: Day 1
– 1 cup quinoa breakfast cereal
Cook 1½ cups quinoa with 2½ cups unsweetened almond milk, 2 tablespoons agave and 1 teaspoon vanilla (makes 2 servings).
– ½ cup Greek yogurt
– 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
– 1 turkey burger
Grate 1 onion into 20 ounces 93 percent lean ground turkey, with 2 tablespoons ketchup, 1 tablespoon each cumin and chili powder, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper (makes 4 servings).
– 1 cup sautéed chard
– 2/3 cup brown rice
– Turkey tacos
Crumble one turkey burger into 2 corn tortillas, top with sautéed chard, fresh salsa and avocado.
Triathlete Diet: Day 2
– 1 cup quinoa breakfast cereal (use other serving from Day 1)
– ½ cup Greek yogurt
– Sliced persimmon and 1 T nuts
– 1 turkey burger on whole-wheat bun or bread
– Top with whole-grain mustard and pile high with favorite veggies.
– 5 ounces baked salmon
Place two 5-ounce pieces salmon into foil with sliced lemon and orange, wrap tightly and bake 15–20 minutes at 400 degrees (makes 2 servings).
– 2/3 cup quinoa
– ½ cup each roasted carrots and broccoli rabe
Tip: If you simply don’t have the time to prepare the whole menu fresh, fill in with store-bought items, like pre-made brown rice, already prepared chicken or fish, or grilled veggies from the deli. Don’t be afraid to modify or swap ingredients—the menu is just a guideline for the general amounts of macronutrients recommended.
Triathlete Diet: Day 3
– Turkey scramble wrap
Scramble 2 eggs with remaining turkey burger (crumbled), and ½ cup seasonal veggies. Serve in whole-wheat or corn tortillas.
– Salmon bowl
Combine other serving of salmon with 2/3 cup brown rice, ½ cup each roasted carrots and broccoli rabe, and 2 tablespoons favorite Asian sauce.
– 5 ounces herb grilled chicken
Marinate four 5-ounce pieces of chicken breast with chopped parsley, rosemary, thyme, olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill or roast chicken (makes 4 servings).
– 1 cup roasted butternut squash
– 1 cup roasted Brussels sprouts
Triathlete Diet: Day 4
– Granola parfait
Layer ½ cup granola with 1 cup Greek yogurt, kiwi and pomegranate seeds.
– Fig salad
Toss 2 cups mixed greens with 2 fresh figs (sliced), 2 tablespoons goat cheese and 1 tablespoon pecans. Top with 1 leftover chicken breast; serve with whole-grain roll.
– Kale pesto
Combine ¼ cup prepared pesto with 1 cup sautéed kale in a blender. Toss with 2 cups cooked pasta and 1½ cups choice of roasted/steamed vegetables, and top with sliced leftover chicken breast (makes 2 servings).
Triathlete Diet: Day 5
– Sweet potato hash
Sauté 1 cup diced sweet potatoes/yams with ½ cup each diced carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, salt and pepper. Then scramble with 4 eggs and toss with freshly diced green onion (2 servings).
– Remaining serving of kale pesto from Day 4
– 5 ounces grilled sirloin
– 1 cup baked sweet potato or yam fries
Give your yams or sweet potatoes a good scrub, then cut them lengthwise into ½-inch fry-like pieces. Toss with olive oil and salt, bake on a sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray at 425 degrees for 10 minutes per side.
– 1 cup sautéed carrots, mushrooms, broccoli and chard (or choice vegetable mixture)
Tip: Train in the morning? A hearty breakfast ensures you use those necessary calories to fuel your effort. A post-workout snack is integral for recovery and satiating hunger. Taper your lunch and then dinner, as fewer calories will be needed during those meals.
Triathlete Diet: Day 6
– Remaining serving of sweet potato hash
– Rotisserie chicken, cranberry and kale wrap
Toss 1 cup kale with juice of 1 lemon and 2 tablespoons prepared low-sugar whole cranberry sauce, and let sit 20 minutes. Serve in a whole-wheat wrap with ½ cup rotisserie chicken breast.
– Farro, cauliflower and cranberry bowl
Combine 2 cups roasted cauliflower, 1 cup chopped kale and 2 cups cooked farro. Toss ¼ cup prepared cranberry sauce, juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley and 1 tablespoon olive oil with remaining rotisserie chicken breast. Add this to the farro, veggie mixture (makes 2 servings).
Triathlete Diet: Day 7
– 1 cup farro porridge
Cook ½ cup farro with 1 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk, 2 teaspoons real maple syrup and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon.
– ½ cup plain or Greek yogurt
– 2 T nuts
– Remaining serving of farro, cauliflower and cranberry bowl
– Fish pocket
Place 6 ounces white fish (such as halibut, tilapia, sea bass) on a large piece of foil or parchment paper. Cover with 2/3 cup sliced fennel and leeks, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold sides of foil or parchment up and pour ¼ cup white wine in for steaming. Cover completely and bake at 400 degrees for 15–20 minutes.
– 1 cup turnip purée
Boil 1 small (peeled and diced) turnip and rutabaga until soft. Drain in colander, pressing any remaining water out. Combine (in food processer or blender) with 1 tablespoon light sour cream, 1 teaspoon olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Serve fish and broth over the top.
– ½ cup choice steamed veggies
Triathlete Diet: Snack Smart
What to eat between meals
– Cut up jicama and cucumber, squeeze fresh lime juice and sprinkle salt and chili powder on top.
– Make deviled eggs by combining hard-boiled egg yolks with a dollop of Greek yogurt, capers, dill and chives.
– Keep smoked salmon on hand to nosh on with cut-up veggies or rice crackers.
– Soften half an apple or pear in the microwave for 90 seconds to 2 minutes and top with Greek yogurt, cinnamon and a sprinkle of nuts.
– Try one of the new nitrate- and/or gluten-free jerkies or savory meat bars.
– Grill a batch of veggies to keep in the fridge (try zucchini, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli rabe/rapini).
– Make a tray of persimmon, grape, feta and basil skewers for a refreshing sweet-savory snack.
– Whip up chia pudding by combining ¼ cup chia seeds with 1 cup almond milk and 2 percent Greek yogurt (each), and choice of sweetener. Let sit overnight, divide by four, and top with pomegranate seeds, kiwis or persimmons, and nuts.
– Satisfy a salt craving with a serving of stone ground or blue corn chips with fresh salsa and a ¼ cup guacamole.
– Slice up fresh figs and pair with a dollop of part-skim ricotta and a drizzle of honey.
– Toast an English muffin and top with almond butter, banana and agave.
– Curb hunger with a brown rice sushi roll.
– Make your own trail mix with your favorite assortment of nuts, dried fruit and dark chocolate chips.
– Use whole-wheat tortillas to make turkey/roast beef and cheese roll-ups.