General Nutrition Tips For Ironman And Triathlon Endurance Events



The following are used during triathlons and endurance competitions. Everyone is different so you must try your race food in training.

Apples, Apricots, Bananas, Coca Cola (de fizzed), Dried Fruit, Energy bars, Energy gels, Figs, Fig Rolls, Grapes, Muesli Bars, Protein drinks, Protein bars, Water.

APPLES contain quercetin which is an anti-inflammatory so can help improve lung function and asthma. St Georges Medical School found that eating five apples a week increased lung capacity by up to 3%.

AVOCADOS are a good source of potassium, which can prevent cramp and fatigue. Eat them in the days building up to an event when planning on competing in hot countries.

BANANAS are a great source of carbohydrate and potassium coming in their own biodegradable skin. 2.5 billion Bananas were eaten in UK 2004. (Grocer magazine November 2005). Bananas contain potassium and can help prevent cramp. The darker they are the sweeter and some of the energy is converted quicker although more fcidic.

BAR-B-Q FOODS are a form of grilling food so can be healthier way to cook food? B-B-Q foods are a low fat option than frying or roasting. Cook foods slowly, burnt on the outside will not mean that the food is cooked thoroughly on the inside. Eaten not properly cooked foods can lead to upset stomach.

BLACKCURRANTS could fight against Alzheimer's disease because the antioxidants in the berries proved protection for the Brain cells against the disease. Anthocyains is a type of antioxidant found in blackcurrants.

BLUEBERRIES are full of antioxidants and their iron content required for red-blood cell formation.

BREAD. Choose the whole-wheat rather than plain white varieties.

CAKES take longer to fully digest; the fat and protein they may contain are of little use for energy. The quick fix rush of energy that comes from eating cakes is mostly from the simple sugar it contains. Shortbread a type of dry biscuit has been used in ultra distance events to good effect though because it contains sugar and fats giving quick and slow releasing energy.

CALORIES required during a race lasting more than four hours, aim to consume 300-400 calories per hour. If you take in more than 70% of your estimated calories per hour the body will end up diverting blood to the digestive system and not the working muscles.

At the very least you will slow down, symptoms like being sick, light headed and over heating can occur as there is not enough blood to satisfy your requirements.

Remember that you need up to 100 calories per hour for your basal metabolic rate i.e. an active man can need up to 2,400 calories per day without exercise.
To aid digestion aim for more solids on the bike and more liquids on the run. Drink de fizzed coca cola for the caffeine and sugar for the last 90 minutes of your event.

In a Triathlon try not to drink in the first 5 minutes of the bike after the swim the last 5 minutes Of the bike and the first 5 minutes of the run.

GLYCOGEN DEPLETION occurs in hard efforts. In races that last longer than 75 minutes your energy comes from glucose (carbohydrate) stored as glycogen or as fat in the form known as fatty acids. Hard exercise soon depletes glycogen stores very quickly. To be able to produce the power and sufficient energy after all the glycogen stores have been used up (depleted) the muscles then switch to fat.

The problem with this form of energy is that fat requires far more energy then glucose to release the same levels of energy.

When at rest the human body uses 40% carbohydrate, 45% fat and 15% protein. During low intensity the body prefers to use fat as fuel saving the fuel.

When you exercise at 70-75% of your own personal maximal endurance capacity carbohydrate is used.
In a running race lasting around 60 minutes at the beginning you will use 90-95% carbohydrate and 5-10% fat. This will change towards the end of the race as glycogen stores are depletes you could be using 20% carbohydrates and 80% fat.

Athletes who are new to sport or have not trained for many months use carbohydrate during high intensity.

GLYCOEN STORES - The ability to keep going for longer is the amount of glycogen stores in the specific working muscles. Race nutrition.

HOME MADE SPORTS DRINK - For an easy alternative drink take 20 ounces of Water (preferably Natural Mineral water) 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1/8th of a teaspoon of table salt (enough salt to cover your thumb nail) mix with either half of a lemon, lime or orange. A standard cycle drinks bottle is 500ml or about 18 fluid ounces.

HYDRATION - Correct fluid for athletes should be drink ad libitum during exercise 400-800ml per hour for recreational & competitive exercise, less for slower, smaller athletes, in mild environmental conditions so therefore more is suggested for athletes competing in warmer climates or higher intensities. Peak performance is achieved by optimizing fluid consumption.

IRON rich foods. Foods rich in Iron include egg yolks, Kidneys, Liver, Prawns, Prunes, Red Meat, Sardines, and Spinach & Tuna. Beans, lentils, pumpkins and spinach have a higher source of Iron but it is harder for the body to absorb than meat. Iron can be also being obtained from figs; four would be a quarter of your recommended daily allowance (RDA. Molasses is a dark sugar it can also contain iron.

LAST MEAL BEFORE A COMPETITION - Aim to finish your last meal 10-14 hours before your competition and eat your last meal before 6pm the night before. Your main calories should be eaten 48-33 hours before (two days before) so you do not fill completely bloated. Food needs to be stored in your body not still undigested in your gut.

BREAKFAST before competition. It is very important you have your pre race meal 2 and a half hours to three hours before your competition not only top up your glycogen stores that would have been depleted from your last meal until the morning but to also fill your muscle glycogen stores in preparation for the race and calories needed before the start.

Aim for the following calories on race morning depending on your weight. Athlete weight, 100 pound athlete-600 calories, 120 pounds athlete 750 calories,140 pound athlete 900 calories, 160 pound athlete 1,050 calories, 180 pound athlete 1,200 calories.

If you have a problem eating solids the morning before a competition consider a smoothie blended drink. Smoothie choice one-2 bananas (190 calories) 100g frozen blueberries or 9 strawberries (30 calories) 1 red-cored apple (150 gram apple 70 calories) 300ml of apple Juice (Smoothes choice two- 3 bananas (270 calories) 200ml of orange juice (80 calories) with 500ml semi skimmed milk (230 calories) plus a powdered carbohydrate protein drink.

This must be made the morning of the race as certain smoothies tend to go acidic not what you want on race morning always experiment first. Please note always check the label for exact calories as even the same brands from Different countries, their ingredients and calories can vary. You can always add Ocean spray cranberry & blackcurrant juice drink at 53 calories per 100ml or Tesco Pure long life orange juice smooth at 118 calories per 250ml for an alternative flavour.

RACE MEAL - If you are struggling with getting enough calories before a race then consider the following strategy. We suggest you eat twice before racing especially long events just eat smaller amounts.
The first meal 3 hours before should include some fat, which takes longer to digest whole meal bread with some butter, cheese porridge, honey, peanut butter or jam. Limit tea or coffee to one cup otherwise you could end up dehydrated and coffee can reduce mineral absorption. Then 90 minutes before eat non-fat foods such as Bananas (potassium) toast and honey plus water or 50/50 fruit juice and water and aim to finish 60 minutes before. Everyone is individual so experiment before your important races.

MOLASSES is a dark sugar using the rule that the darker the food the healthier it is. Much more benefits than white sugar also contains calcium and iron.

OATS - Proven to naturally reduce cholesterol. Oats release energy slowly, sustaining you for many hours afterwards.

OATCAKES - are much better for balancing blood sugar levels than bread; they can be eaten with Berries, Cheese (low fat) Cottage Cheese, Fresh Fruit, Scrambled eggs or Salmon.

RIBOSE is a natural sugar. It is present in every living cell and is used to manufacturer ATP. Taking as little as 3-5 grams per day will return cellular levels of ATP within 6-22 hours. Without supplementation this is likely to take 26 -93 hours.

For more information read Ribose what you need to know by Edmund R Burke PH.D Avery Publishing group (1999) To buy energy bars and products containing Ribose log onto www.torqfitness.co.uk.

RUTIN is required for capillary healthy circulation and is in fruit and berries reduce or avoid caffeine and nicotine because this has the opposite reaction.

SODIUM BICARBONATE (0.3grams per kilo of body weight) used two -three hours before important competitions produces a mild alkaline effect in the blood & muscles and delays the build up of lactic acid. Only effective for sprint events.

SPAGHETTI is pasta and is a low GI food.

RACE NUTRITION - Tapering for the big day could mean you have more time on your hands, so a common mistake is to eat too much. If you have eaten and prepared correctly eating too much will not help you race better, it could have the opposite effect.

SUGAR eaten before training will not always mean fatigue because of an eventual sugar low. Sugar can be in any form such as glucose honey or sucrose. The main difference between sugars and complex carbohydrates is how easily the body can use the energy.
Sweets can cause quick instant rapid rise of blood sugar while pasta is much more slowly releasing. Consuming sugary foods and drinks is normal if you have just completed a tough workout in either intensity or distance.

Many studies have shown that no effect on performance was found when athletes took sugary items before training even though their levels of sugar in the blood did fluctuate compared to either carbohydrate snacking or not eating in the 30 minutes before exercise.

Snacking on sweet foods and drinks does tend to make you eat unpredictably & can confuse your mind! Eating a carbohydrate meal before a sugary snack should help you deal with fewer cravings for simple sugars. The best quick fix foods tend to be Fresh Fruits, dried fruits and juices.

SUPPLEMENTS - Studies have shown that active athletes need more than the Recommend dosage. Allowance R.D.A that the government suggests. Research has been that taking vitamin C+1000mg E=268mg had less muscle damage marker known as creatine kinase and reduced muscle soreness.

TINNED FOODS can have more nutrition than fresh foods including Apricots, Blackcurrants, Carrots, Spinach and Sweet corn. Nutrients decline with age and how they are stored so foods tinned soon after being harvested. They are especially healthy if they come in natural juices or water.

TOMATOES contain the powerful antioxidant; cooked ones are more effective called lycopene that mops up harmful radicals.

VINEGAR - Removes perspiration and deodorant Stains. Destroys bacteria, can be used to disinfect refrigerators, chopping boards and kitchen utensils and is cheaper than disinfectant. Athletes us vinegar to clean out cycling bottles from germs.

VITAMIN C is destroyed by heat and light. A raw apple kept in the fridge contains more vitamin C than a similar aged apple that has been stored in a warm and bright environment.

KIWI fruit contain up to five times more vitamin C than most apples.

WATER accounts for about 70% of our bodies. Water is lost through sweating. A loss of just 2% of your weight will reduce the performance of your engine, a loss of 5% will certainly cause discomfort and fatigue a loss of 10% can be fatal.

WATER Natural Mineral Water - Can be low in sodium ideal for low salt diets. Considered a much healthier alternative to spring, Spa and tap water.