by Jennifer O’Donnell-Giles MS, RD, CSSD
Food is Energy! Athletes ask their bodies to produce a lot of energy! If you limit or restrict food, you are limiting the amount of energy that is produced and you simply will not be able to run to your full potential. Thinking of food as fuel will assist you you’re your triathlon performance goals. Choosing food wisely is the key here.
Boost your runs with Antioxidants! Every time you go for a run the oxygen that you consume destroys cells. This is called oxidative damage. To combat this damage you need to consume antioxidants. These components in food undue this damage and protect cells from further destruction. Foods that are high in antioxidants include strawberries, blueberries, spinach, apples, oranges, broccoli, kale, and raspberries to name a few.
Nutrient-Rich Eating Athletes need nutrient rich carbohydrates as an energy source. Make the most of your carbs and choose the ones with the most nutrition. The most natural sources are the most abundant in nutrients. These include beans, fruit, peas, vegetables, legumes, milk, yogurt, and whole grains.
Power up with Protein Adequate protein is required in order to repair muscles and replenish tissue damage. Consuming lean protein sources is best in order to avoid excess saturated fat. Lean protein sources include fish, chicken breast, turkey breast, lean pork and lean beef, nuts, eggs, tofu, edemame, low fat dairy products, beans peas nuts and seeds.
Hydrate! Hydration is perhaps more important sports nutrition topic when it comes to Triathletes! As soon as your body is slightly dehydrated overall pace and endurance is drastically diminished. We all bring water bottles with us to the pool, on a long ride and during a run …but how many of us stay hydrated throughout the day to ensure quality performance and recovery? Staying hydrated on a daily basis (not just during workouts) is crucial to any athlete’s success. Check out this urine output chart to monitor how hydrated you are on a daily basis:
Eat fat! Fat is an essential component of a Runner’s diet. Consuming the right kind of fat in the right quantities is crucial. Healthy fat that supports an athletes training include avocados, fatty fish such as salmon, fish oil supplements, olive oil, macadamia nut oil and other monounsaturated oils, nuts and nut butters, flax seeds, chia seeds and other seeds.
Breakfast is a runner’s best energy booster! Start your day on a good note with any of the following Quick breakfast ideas:
- 2 slices Whole grain toast with 1 tbsp peanut butter, ½ grapefruit and ½ cup low fat cottage cheese
- 1 cup whole oats with ¼ cup almond milk, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, ¼ cup golden raisins, ¼ cup sliced almonds, dash of cinnamon and dash of nutmeg.
- 1 cup non fat plain greek yogurt with 1 sliced banana and ½ cup thawed frozen strawberries.
- Green Power Smoothie. Combine in a blender the following :1/2 cup spinach leaves, ¼ cup kale leaves, 1 banana, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 10 almonds, 1 apple, ¼ cup raspberries
- Egg White frittata. Pour into iron skillet: 4 egg whites, ½ cup skim milk, 1 cup chopped spinach, 1 cup diced mushrooms, ¼ cup crumbled feta. Bake for 30 mins on 350 degrees. Serve with whole grain toast and ¼ cantaloupe.
Fiber is your friend. Eat a fibrous food with each meal and snack. Fiber containing foods include all fruits and vegetables and unprocessed whole grains.
Fiber intake assists in slowing the absorption of glucose into your blood stream,. This is crucial in attaining optimal energy all day long.
Recover well! Your next workout is dependant on your recovery from your last workout. Within 15-20 minutes consume a nutrient rich, high protein and high carbohydrate snack. Some efficient recovery snack ideas are:
Low fat chocolate milk, trail mix, banana and peanut butter, apple and almonds, protein bar, fruit smoothie, low fat bean burrito grilled chicken wrap and peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Hydrate some more!
I’m highlighting this again because it’s THAT important!!! Think of it as THE most important aspect of training. Hydrate well each and every day (not just long training days or hot days) monitoring consistent hydration status can give you a huge advantage. Know your sweat rate and be knowledgeable about how much YOUR body needs throughout the day and during different types of training sessions.
Monitor hydration three ways
- Listen to your thirst. Most often you will feel thirsty. When you feel thirst your body is sending you a message! Unfortunately thirst is not the greatest way to monitor hydration so make sure to monitor with the following methods as well:
- Notice what color your urine is. Take a peek in the toilet. If its light-medium yellow in color, thin in consistency and a fairly consistent flow throughout the day then you are doing well. If it’s dark yellow or light brown, thicker consistency and minimal in quantity and sporadic then its time to drink up!
- Weigh yourself before and after each workout. Note how many pounds you lose in addition to how much fluid was taken in during that workout. This is a good way to quantify sweat rate. Here’s a hydration calculation chart to help you with this.
Jenn is a member of the Rev3 Ambassador Team. You can find more information about her here:
Jennifer O’Donnell-Giles MS RDN CSSD
Active Nutrition LLC