Eating for Exercise: Nutrition Notes for Triathletes

It's time to shift from the offseason frame of mind to the it's-almost-triathlon-season mindset. And what does that mean for nutrition, fueling and general health?

Eating for exercise is an essential skill for triathletes to master since your eating habits can make or break your performance. If you want to get faster this season, you have to evaluate more than just your training schedule. Follow these tips to stay on top of your nutrition and make this your most successful year yet.

Nutrition Basics of Losing Weight

  1. Eat frequently and spread your meals throughout the day.
  2. If you want to lose weight, remember that a 500 calorie deficit per day equals 1 pound of fat loss per week.
  3. Consume a diet high in protein and carbohydrates, and low in fat.
  4. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store.
  5. If it comes in a box, bag or can, nix it.
  6. Fill up on healthy fruits, vegetables and lean protein.

More: Nutrition Basics for Live and Training

Pre-Exercise Nutrition

Calories: To help lessen the stress of intense training, start your workouts with optimal carbohydrate stores and be sure to maintain blood glucose levels during your session. One to one and a half hours prior to training, consume 200 to 250 calories for men or 120 to 225 for women.

Energy: These pre-exercise calories should come mainly from carbohydrates and proteins. This combination helps improve and lengthen endurance performance and limits muscle damage for repeated training sessions.

Sustained Energy: Foods with a lower glycemic index, such as whole grains, brown rice and yogurt, cause a slower and more sustained release of blood glucose. Foods with a high glycemic index such as waffles, pancakes and white bread cause a more rapid rise in blood glucose. This is important because some research suggests that low GI carbohydrate foods are useful before exercise to provide a more sustained carbohydrate release.

Hydration: Drink 16 ounces of water 30 to 60 minutes prior to workouts.

Important lesson: Abstaining from food prior to exercise will not help you in the weight-loss process, if that is your goal. An apple or banana before a workout is ideal and only costs 100 to 200 calories.

More: Dave Scott on Pre-Exercise Fueling

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