Diet Plan For Triathlon

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Diet plan for triathlon helps with endurance, and proper use of energy for your workouts. The diet helps your body recover faster and also helps with dropping unnecessary weight before the race and also helps in increasing the speed. A diet plan is a combination of food that helps in improving the health of your heart.

Diet Plan For Triathlon

Nutrition plays an important part in being active, whether you are a novice taking your first steps in the sport, or an Olympic or Paralympic athlete bidding for gold. Below are some useful meals that will help you with maintaining energy, recovery and performance.

As a triathlete, you’re asking a lot from your body. Take these 5 nutrition tips on board to help you achieve peak performance this year.

Plan your meals

For athletes with specific performance goals, planning ahead is very important. Plan your meals for the week and make a shopping list detailing what you’ll have to buy. If you’re busy during the week, meals can be prepared in advance during the weekend. You’ll be surprised how much time and effort your food prep will save you!

Don’t skip meals

Your body needs food throughout the day. Skipping meals may result in poor energy availability for training and longer recovery times which can impact on training adaptation.

Long periods of low energy intake through skipping meals can also impact on your immune function and well being which can then effect the consistency of your training. Regular meals throughout the day will ensure a good supply of nutrients to allow the body to recover and be ready to go again.

Optimal nutrient intake

Carbohydrates and healthy fats are important sources of energy required by the body. It is also important to get regular good quality protein throughout the day to help your muscles recover and rebuild. Including plenty of vegetables, berries and fruits in your diet will help ensure your intake of vitamins and minerals is sufficient. Good quality food intake will help to maximise your training gains.

Variety of food

Variety is important! Firstly, variety will ensure you get a range of different nutrients that your body needs and secondly you won’t get bored of eating the same foods day in and day out. Why not try out a new vegetable or fruit this week?

Enjoy your food

Many athletes are proper foodies and taking the time to have some nice meals with family and friends between all your training and other commitments will be good for both body and soul.

The meals have been broken down into Breakfast, Lunch, Evening meals and Snacks, each of which will help you achieve – whatever your goals.

Eating well is all about having a regular consumption of nutritious food and drink. If you as a triathlete give your body the proper fuel, you will have more energy for training, work and education, friends, family and other everyday activities.

Breakfast

After a good night’s sleep it’s been several hours since you’ve last eaten and your body is in need of energy. This is especially important if you’re training in the morning. Good breakfast alternatives are for example smoothies, porridge and yoghurt with cereal and berries.

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Why not try one of the following:

  • Poached egg on wholemeal toast – 2 eggs, 2 toast (369 kcal – Carbs 33g – Protein 20g – Fat 13g)
  • Porridge with fresh fruit – Semi-skimmed milk, 50g porridge, fresh fruit (450kcal – Carbs 50g – Protein 32g – Fat 7g) If you’re in need of a more luxurious porridge try adding some honey and yoghurt .
  • Whole wheat cereal biscuits with a sprinkling of mixed seeds – 3 Weetabix with semi-skimmed milk and seeds (347 kcal – Carbs 40g – Protein 15g – Fat 16g)
  • Omelette with tomato and Cottage Cheese – 2 eggs (273 kcal – Carbs 4g – Protein 27g – Fat 16g) For a simple Omelette recipe and some more ideas for fillings .
  • Hard boiled eggs on seeded wholemeal toast – 2 eggs, 2 toast (432 kcal – Carbs 28g – Protein 28g – Fat 20g)

Lunch

Time for some food again! A delicious omelette, chicken salad or salmon wrap are good alternatives for lunch. Remember to include some fruit and vegetables.

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Why not try one of the following:

  • Chicken Salad within a wholemeal wrap – 100g chicken (391 kcal – Carbs 37g – Protein 39g – Fat 11g)
  • Tuna Salad and a wholemeal pitta bread – 150g tuna chunks, 1 pitta (448 kcal – Carbs 58g – Protein 20g – Fat 13g)
  • Three Bean and Red Pepper Soup – 400g (347 kcal – Carbs 40g – Protein 15g – Fat 16g) With root vegetables in abundance throughout winter look at using them in a Spiced Swede Soup or a classic Country Vegetable Soup.
  • Feta Cheese and Cottage Cheese Salad with Light Balsamic Vinegar (229 kcal – Carbs 11g – Protein 23g – Fat 8g)
  • Wholemeal Pittas with Chicken and Mixed Salad – 2 pittas, 100g chicken (410 kcal – Carbs 56g – Protein 37g – Fat 3g)

Evening Meal

For many athletes, an evening meal is one of the most important meals as it gives an excellent opportunity to fuel whilst spending some quality time with friends and family. If you have an afternoon or evening training session and don’t  have an evening meal you might find it harder to recover before your next training session. Your evening meal can be varied endlessly – why not try homemade pasta Bolognese served with salad and bread rolls?

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Why not try one of the following:

  • Sirloin Steak with Mushrooms and Sweet Potato – 200g Steak, 140g Sweet Potato (448 kcal – Carbs 39g – Protein 57g – Fat 12g) If you want to marinade your steak why not try this Balsamic Steak  for a fresh twist.
  • Seasoned Chicken with Mediterranean Vegetables – 140g Chicken, 200g Veg and 50g Cous Cous (474 kcal – Carbs 35g – Protein 45g – Fat 15g)
  • Chicken and Prawn Paella – 400g (453 kcal – Carbs 74g – Protein 25g – Fat 5g)
  • Chicken and Peanuts Stir Fry – 100g Chicken, 160g stir fry veg, 100g egg noodles, 60g peanut sauce (486 kcal – Carbs 42g – Protein 40g – Fat 17g)
  • Salmon Steak with Mixed Vegetables and Potatoes – 100g salmon, 160g veg, 200g new potatoes (452 kcal – Carbs 44g – Protein 35g – Fat 15g) For a simple way to spice up your salmon try adding some Cajun Seasoning .

Snacks

The favourite word of many athletes. The word ‘snacks’ make eyes light up, helps fight hunger and keeps blood sugar levels steady. Fruit, nuts, yoghurt and energy bars are good alternatives. 

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Why not try one of the following mid-morning, mid-afternoon or evening:

  • Large Handful of Mixed Nuts, Raisins and Sultanas – 40g (209 kcal – Carbs 40g – Protein 8g – Fat 13g)
  • Cottage Cheese on Crisp Bread Crackers – 120g (162 kcal – Carbs 30g – Protein 16g – Fat 2g)
  • Reduced Fat Peanut Butter on 2 Multigrain Crisp Breads – 30g (250 kcal – Carbs 23g – Protein 8g – Fat 13g)

Plus, a piece of fruit

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  • Banana (116 kcal – Carbs 27g – Protein 1g – Fat 0g)
  • Orange (62 kcal – Carbs 15g – Protein 1g – Fat 0g)
  • Apple (95 kcal – Carbs 25g – Protein 1g – Fat 0g)
  • Grapefruit – 100g (32 kcal – Carbs 8g – Protein 1g – Fat 0g)
  • Pear (96 kcal – Carbs 26g – Protein 1g – Fat 0g)

N.B. All nutrition information is a guide and will vary depending on source and brands

Training diet for long course triathletes

The training diet for a long course triathlete needs to be varied and periodised to the training needs for that day, week or phase in their program. As many triathletes train more than five days per week—often multiple times per day—food should be prioritised to promote recovery, daily energy levels, and optimise training adaptations.

During the off-season, food can be adjusted to reduce reliance on sports foods and carbohydrate intake moderated to reflect the lower training load. Protein should continue to be prioritised to assist in meeting daily requirements, maintaining lean mass and optimising muscle repair following training.

A consistent intake of healthy fats and a variety of fruits & vegetables will promote a healthy immune system over the winter months, while also assisting with training adaptations. The off-season is the ideal time to focus on optimal body composition for the upcoming race-season with the support of an Accredited Sports Dietitian for individualised advice.

During the competition season, the training diet should be adapted to reflect the higher training load and need for high quality training with increased speed and power. Carbohydrate intake needs to be sufficient to balance daily fuel needs, but still periodised to match the training demands of the day. Protein should be prioritised around training sessions to assist in optimal muscle regeneration, immune function and recovery.

Choosing foods with healthy fats will also help boost recovery and help meet energy requirements. Despite the need for a higher energy, it is important to still include a variety of fruits and vegetables to ensure adequate intakes of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals are achieved.

Hydration needs

Fluid requirements vary between individuals depending on sweat rate and sweat composition, weather conditions and ability to tolerate fluid while training and competing.

Athletes should start races well hydrated and continue to optimise hydration throughout the race. Obviously this presents a challenge in the swim leg, but can to be maximised on the bike leg. As the intensity of racing is lower compared to shorter distance races, more fluid can usually be consumed and tolerated.

Dehydration, both in daily training and racing, can lead to fatigue, loss of concentration and impaired performance due to loss of power and intensity. Subsequently fluid should be prioritised as a component to an athlete’s nutrition. Due to the length of training sessions and races, a combination of water and sports drinks is common.

Eating before competition

Effective carbohydrate loading can be achieved within 2-3 days prior combined with reduced training load. This loading should not be achieved through simply eating more food, but rather targeted intake of more carbohydrate rich foods or fluids. Consulting with an Accredited Sports Dietitian to assist with this will reduce risk of gut upset and optimise muscle glycogen stores.

Long distance triathlons most frequently start in the early morning anywhere between 6-8am. Eating any more than 2 hours before the race can be a challenge and pre-race nutrition needs to be modified to suit this. Ideally a pre-race easy to digest, carbohydrate-rich meal should be eating 90-120 mins before the start. Suitable options include cereal, porridge, bircher muesli, crumpets, English muffins or toast. For athletes struggling with poor appetite and nerves, liquid meal options may be better tolerated – for example fruit smoothies or liquid meal replacements.

Top up snack/s such as banana or sports bars can then be eaten over the 30-60mins before the race start. Small serves of sports drink or a sports gel 10-15 min prior to swim start will assist in fuelling the swim. This strategy however is highly individual and will be dependent on the athlete, their tolerance and intensity of racing.

Eating and drinking during competition

For events longer than 3hrs, there is a correlation between increased carbohydrate intake and improved performance. With these findings, it is recommended that carbohydrate targets during racing should be in the range 60-90g per hour.

If the target is more than 60g per hour carbohydrate sources will need to be sourced from multiple carbohydrate types (multiple transportable carbohydrates), to ensure optimal absorption and minimal risk of gut upset. As these levels of carbohydrate intake are high, these strategies need to be practiced in training. This practice will assist in adapting the gut to absorb carbohydrate at high intensities and reduce the risk of gut upset.

To achieve optimal carbohydrate targets, it is important to start early in the ride and continue throughout the race. Sources of carbohydrate should be varied and can include a combination of whole foods, gels, bars and drinks. Food choices should minimise high fat products so that gastric emptying isn’t delayed. Adequate hydration should also be considered and a fluid plan implemented to minimise the risk of dehydration.

Post-race recovery

Recovery meals and snacks should contain carbohydrate (fuel), some protein (for muscle repair and development) and plenty of fluids and electrolytes to replace sweat losses.

A recovery meal or snack should be consumed soon after racing or training. Due to the length of the race and the intensity of the effort, often athletes do not feel much like eating soon after they finish. In addition, there is often a lack of desire for sweet foods after having a lot of sweet products for multiple hours without much solid/savoury food.

Half Ironman distance races typically have a recovery stall at the finish line that usually has fruit, yoghurt, ice-cream and some sports foods. Ironman distance races also have these, but usually also have some more savoury, warm options to choose from. As there is often an extended rest and recover phase following a long-course triathlon, recovery is important but does not need to be rushed.

A small snack is easier to tolerate at the finish line that should then be followed up with a more substantial option that is higher in protein. Options may include:

  • Hot breakfast – eggs, beans and avo on toast
  • Finger food meals that also offer fats and salts – such as good quality pizza, burritos or burgers;
  • Wraps or roll filled with meat, cheese & salad
  • Fruit Smoothies or Milkshakes
  • Fruit topped with yoghurt & granola
  • Liquid meal replacements

7 Day Meal Plan For Triathletes

As a hard-charging triathlete, you probably spend a big chunk of your time planning (and anticipating!) your diet, including your next meal or snack. Having a food plan that is time-efficient and can healthfully satiate your appetite is key. This seven-day plan takes the guesswork out of mealtime and can help you happily eat your way to an ideal race weight.

The Meal Plan

This seven-day plan is designed for one person, but it’s easy to adjust to the number of people eating. Meals were envisioned with leftovers in mind to save you time and money on ingredients for successive meals. The portions can vary from person to person but are estimated for someone who is about 130–160 pounds. The idea behind this meal plan is to fill you up with large portions of seasonal produce, making that at least half your plate in most cases. The other half is made up of protein and carbohydrates. If you need larger portions, try adding more produce or protein first, and if you need less, take away small amounts of the carbohydrates and/or protein.

Triathlete Diet: Day 1

Breakfast
– 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

Lunch
– 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

Dinner

– Turkey tacos
Crumble one turkey burger into 2 corn tortillas, top with sautéed chard, fresh salsa and avocado.

Triathlete Diet
Photo: Sue Fan and John David Becker
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Triathlete Diet: Day 2

Breakfast
– 1 cup quinoa breakfast cereal (use other serving from Day 1)
– ½ cup Greek yogurt
– Sliced persimmon and 1 T nuts

Lunch
– 1 turkey burger on whole-wheat bun or bread
– Top with whole-grain mustard and pile high with favorite veggies.

Dinner
– 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
Photo: Sue Fan and John David Becker
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Triathlete Diet: Day 3

Breakfast
– Turkey scramble wrap
Scramble 2 eggs with remaining turkey burger (crumbled), and ½ cup seasonal veggies. Serve in whole-wheat or corn tortillas.

Lunch
– 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.

Dinner
– 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
Photo: Sue Fan and John David Becker
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Triathlete Diet: Day 4

Breakfast
– Granola parfait
Layer ½ cup granola with 1 cup Greek yogurt, kiwi and pomegranate seeds.

Lunch
– 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.

Dinner
– 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
Photo: Sue Fan and John David Becker
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Triathlete Diet: Day 5

Breakfast
– 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).

Lunch
– Remaining serving of kale pesto from Day 4

Dinner
– 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
Photo: Sue Fan and John David Becker
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Triathlete Diet: Day 6

Breakfast
– Remaining serving of sweet potato hash

Lunch
– 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.

Dinner
– 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
Photo: Sue Fan and John David Becker
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Triathlete Diet: Day 7

Breakfast
– 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

Lunch
– Remaining serving of farro, cauliflower and cranberry bowl

Dinner
– 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
Photo: Sue Fan and John David Becker
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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.

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