Happy Tuesday! Today’s weekly Tri Talk Tuesday theme is “Triathlon Training Nutrition”, hosted by Courtney, Miranda, and Cynthia! I am extra for today’s link up, since it’s one of my FAVORITE topics: NUTRITION!
Nutrition is something near and dear to my heart. I care so much about it, to the point where I would like to make it my career one day (not sure how just yet!). I am literally obsessed with eating the best food for me and my training every single day. I probably think about nutrition more than the average athlete, but I’m ok with that, since it works out in my favor! I could talk about fueling all day long, but I will try and sum up some of my favorite tips and tricks for you all to hopefully benefit from.
I have been in love with nutrition and eating healthy since middle school. Eating healthy, real food is something that I have always taken pride in and had found to be a huge part of my life. Nutrition has become even more a part of my life, and even more critical now with Ironman training. Prior to Ironman training, I was eating very healthy, balanced meals, focusing on REAL food high in nutrients. But I knew that I probably need to tweak a few things in my diet, in order to support my training. I opted to have a nutrition analysis done and it was SUPER helpful. If you are thinking about training for an Ironman, I highly recommend this!
Signing up for an Ironman meant time for some changes:
A Sports Nutritionist took a look at my training volume and what I was consuming, and WHEN I was consuming it. As I suspected, I was doing a lot of things right (healthy proteins, fats and carbohydrates) but I had to change a couple of things. One thing I was failing at was, eating the right foods for RECOVERY post training session or race. This was the biggest change I made in my diet and it was life changing! I went from never taking a recovery drink (thinking just a banana and peanut butter was ok), to taking a recovery drink every time I do a swim, bike or run that is long enough to require it.
Another HUGE change I made was drinking sports drink during my training sessions. For years I thought that just drinking water was enough… boy was I wrong. Sure, water is great for short workouts (i.e. not long endurance workouts). But I was drinking only water during my long bike rides, for example, and this HAD to change for the Ironman. As soon as I incorporated sports drink into my training sessions, I noticed a HUGE difference in my performance! Who knew sports drink could be life changing? As far as my normal meals, I did not have to change much there, just figuring out how to time my meals has been the important change.
Here are some tips I’ve learned throughout the years, and specifically now with Ironman training. I am by no means an expert, but I have a lot of experience with this stuff!
Timing is everything- The 30 minute window/Recovery
During a training session you are taxing your body and using up its energy stores (glycogen). Once your workout is finished, you must replenish what you lost in order for your body to begin the process of repair. In the 30 minutes immediately following your workout, your insulin sensitivity is at its highest and when your body is in this state, whatever nutrients you take in will be easily transported directly to your muscles, liver, and wherever else it is needed. You will suck it up like a sponge. Depending on the length of my workout, and the sport, I typically take 1-2 scoops of EFS Ultragen Recovery. This has quite honestly changed my life, especially on the weekends when I have long brick workouts on Saturday AND Sunday.
Eat Real foods, things you can pronounce
Like I have mentioned before on my blog, it all comes down to eating REAL food. I am a huge advocate for eating only foods you can pronounce. I could rant for hours on how much I hate the way Americans are eating these days.. it makes me sick. From GMO’s to pesticides to high fructose corn syrup, the list is endless… and it’s downright scary what companies are putting in packaged foods! The only thing I eat out of a package are my sports drinks and gels, other than that, I try my best to eat REAL food. Sure I have my cheat meals (i.e. pizza), especially after I’ve trained my butt off… but I try and eat real food 90% of the time:)
Carbs are your friend (as an Endurance athlete)
Whole food carbohydrates are vital for endurance training, especially an Ironman. I’m not talking about packaged carbohydrates like Oreos… I’m talking about sweet potatoes, fruit, greek yogurt with healthy granola, etc. I have learned the hard way (i.e. hitting the wall) that you NEED carbs when training for an endurance event. Another way I get my carbohydrates while training is through sports drink like Scratch Labs or Power Bar Perform.
Speaking of Carbs….. Concentrate on eating low Glycemic Index foods (GI < 55) throughout the day.
High glycemic foods, such as grains and refined sugars, cause blood sugar levels to spike, which can lead to increased hunger, fatigue, and excessive storage of body fat. These higher GI foods, such as grains and refined sugars, should be consumed during “windows” before or after your workout to help maintain/restore glycogen levels.
Eat very frequently throughout the day with a maximum of 2-3 hours between feedings.
This helps keep blood sugar stable and a constant supply of nutrients available for muscle recovery. To that end, reduce the fasting window while you sleep by having a protein shake, or some other source of lean protein, immediately before bed each night, and something the moment you wake up. This has made a huge difference for me. I typically have plain greek yogurt with berries before bed (15 g of protein!)
Increase your intake of Omega-3 Fatty acids
I take 2-3 g Fish Oil daily, which is the ideal amount recommend by my nutritionist. I also consume walnuts, avocado, and hemp seeds for additional Omega-3’s. Omega-3’s work as an antioxidant and have been shown not only to decrease internal inflammation (which is created during intense training) – they also help prevent your joints!
Just for fun, here is an example of a weekday eating while training for an Ironman
5:00 AM Powerbar Sports Gel pre bike ride
5:00-7:00 Consume PowerBar Perform, 1 bottle per hour (3 scoops per bottle) and additional gels if necessary
7:00 EFS Ultragen Recovery drink (1-2 scoops depending on intensity)
8:30 Breakfast: Sweet potato hash, 2 scrambled eggs, broccoli, some fruit
10:30 One serving almonds, one apple
12:00 Chopped kale salad with grilled chicken, lots of raw veggies, hemp seeds and Tessemae’s dressing + 1 piece 88% dark chocolate
3:00 Siggi’s Greek yogurt with walnuts for Omega 3’s
5:00 Power Bar Gel before next workout OR a snack of hummus and carrots if not training in the evening
7:00 Dinner: lean protein, veggies + 1 piece 88% dark chocolate
9:30 Before bed snack: Plain greek yogurt with berries (I like the Trader Joe’s plain)
Obviously, this is not what every single day looks like, but it’s pretty darn close. I eat every 2-3 hours and I’m always hungry with Ironman training! The important thing for me is, not letting my blood sugar drop and to stay on top of my recovery! I may not have much energy to cook these days, due to long hours of training, but I make eating healthy a PRIORITY… Oh and the fact that I enjoy cooking helps too:)
How do you fuel your training? What are are some changes you’ve had to make with your fueling?