Nutrition - The Fourth Discipline: Everyday Eating
Updated: May 15, 2020
At practice we discuss and practice the three disciplines of swimming, biking and running. The fourth discipline of triathlon is Nutrition, the Fuel, or the food you put in your body. Nutrition is THE key to everything. Even if your body is prepared, if your nutrition plan is not set, practiced, and followed, race day can be grueling.
We break Nutrition into two categories: Everyday Eating, and Training Nutrition. This edition will focus on Everyday Eating.
The biggest part of what you need to have successful and productive workouts and races are the nutrients provided in everyday foods throughout the day, long before you even strap on your run shoes. A large part of nutrition is also hydration. More info on both are below.
Read the information provided here to get you started, and bring your questions to your TVTC coaches at practice and in our interactive Education series. We discuss and practice eating throughout the season.
Nutrition is a BIG topic, and there is A LOT of information you can read. Everyday eating is arguably the most important piece. If you are already fueling your body with good foods on a regular basis, the training eating will come naturally. For right now, there are some basics we want you to know. Below is some general information, but most of our discussion for our Members happens in person at practices or in online education discussions, and continues on through the season. Our goals are to give you the tools to help you decipher what you read, and to help you make the best food decisions for you. Bring your questions to practice. As an athlete (which you are all now), you have to think of food as fuel. It's not just calories in/calories out, it's what those calories are, and how they are used to refuel and regenerate your body. The calories each individual needs varies based on many factors including sex, height, weight, body make up, fitness level, physical activity, and goal. Some of you want to maintain your weight, some want to gain weight, and some want to lose weight. Every one's goal should be to take in the best fuel for your body for the optimal energy level and performance, during practice and for life.
When we talk about triathlon nutrition, it's not only during the race, and not just "race food". Nutrition is before, during and after training and races. Nutrition is very individual, and must be practiced throughout your season and life. You must try what works for you. Some things that work for other people may not work for you. You have to practice eating different types of foods before, during and after workouts. Start now. Go to Sports Basement, choose an array of products in sample or one-time use packets, bring them to practice, ask when they are used, try them out before, during and after workouts.
Water and Electrolytes
It is important to hydrate, before, during and after a practice, or anytime you sweat. Most people begin a workout, or a regular day, already dehydrated. Because of that, you should be hydrating everyday on a consistent basis. Hydrating your cells is not water alone. Drink plenty of water AND replace your electrolytes. Generally speaking, electrolytes, like potassium, calcium, magnesium and other vitamins and minerals, help keep water in your body working in the right places, not just flushing out your system. Electrolytes are found in everyday foods like bananas, oranges, bran, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, beets, leafy greens, as well as synthetic sports drinks or powders. There are many products from which to choose, including Gatorade, Nuun, Camelback, UCAN and other electrolyte replacement powders that can be added to water. In general, try to stick to real foods for your hydration when not working out. Save the synthetic genetically engineered replacements for during and after training. Those "foods" and drinks are engineered for use when the body is at peak use, and timed to release when needed during or after a training or racing session. Read the directions and the calories on the back. Some products contain more sugar calories, and if you are trying to lose weight, those products are not necessarily the best calories for you. More about "training foods" and drinks in another TVTC blog. Calories
We all need calories to live. If you are trying to lose weight, calorie number is important, but what kind of calories and when you eat your calories is way more important. You should lean towards a mix of lean protein, good carbohydrates like whole grains, and some essential fats. Even if you are trying to lose weight, your body needs essential fats. Essential fats aid in neuro functions (help you think), and you burn fat when you exercise. When eaten in combination, protein and carbohydrates help the other ones work, and aid in metabolism speed. A short list of food examples: Lean proteins include chicken, turkey, whey. Good carbohydrates include whole grain breads or cereals, fruits, vegetables. Essential fats include olive oil, avocados, nuts. Check out the Daily Nutrition Presentation PDF below for a more in-depth list of each type of macro nutrient. Food Log - Getting started
Everyday eating is arguably the most important piece. If you are already fueling your body with good foods on a regular basis, the training eating will come naturally. Everyday you should be hydrating and eating (fueling) your body. Make it a part of your life. Start by keeping a Food Log, a basic list of what you are eating. At the end of each day, look at what you've eaten. You will probably find you eat about 85% of the same foods on a daily basis. When you write down and review what you eat, it also gives you a base from which to make changes to your diet to help you feel better during practices. You will find that by eating the right foods for you, you will have more energy, sleep better, will feel generally more happy, and can be more productive not only at practices, but in your everyday life.
Online Food Logs we recommend: www.Fitday.com
For more detailed information on Daily Nutrition, download the Daily Nutrition Presentation PDF.
This by no means a full description of nutrition, just some information to get you thinking about what you need.
Watch https://www.tvtc.com/blog for our Blogs on Training Eating, Race-Day Nutrition Planning, and other specifics of Nutrition.
Join TVTC! As you get closer to any race, your coach will help design the right race-day nutrition for you.