Nutrition during triathlon. A practical approach

Nutrition during a triathlon can be a difficult puzzle. What should you eat / drink during a race? How much do you need exactly? You don’t want to find out during a race that you can’t handle certain foods at high intensity that well. You do not wait to make a good nutrition plan for a race until the race week itself, but you start with this months in advance.

Start by keeping track of what you are taking during your training

Start by keeping track of what you are taking during your trainingThere are several ways to measure or calculate your needs. A very simple way to get started is to first get a clear picture of your current energy needs.

Simply write down after every longer training how much energy you have used and how much food you have consumed. This gives you a good idea of your current needs. Do you feel hungry at the end of a long / vigorous workout? Then try to take more food.

If you feel hungry after 3 hours during your training, you will have to take more during a race, otherwise you will have a problem. Some things that I note after heavy training are:

  • Distance
  • Time
  • Intensity
  • kJ and kcal burned
  • Ingested carbohydrates (or calories)
  • Description of what you ate

This allows you to calculate how many carbohydrates or calories you have taken per hour.

Start experimenting

Now that you are starting to get an idea of your need, you can start experimenting with it. Try how your body reacts if you take more. It is also advisable to try different types of food.

A common rule for the amount of energy that you should take during a longer race is 1 gram of carbohydrate per kg of body weight per hour. Do you weigh 70 kg? Then try taking around 70 grams of carbohydrates per hour.

See what your A-race offers for food / drink

Find out in time what kind of nutrition the organization of your A-race offers on the course. If this is a brand that you have no experience with, it is advisable to try this brand during training. Make sure your body is not in for a surprise during your competition.

Also think about how you receive the nutrition during the race, paying attention to where the care posts are on the course and what they offer there. Write this entire plan literally on paper, so you can later use it to evaluate whether the plan was correct.

Test your final racing plan

Test your final race plan If you have decided what you want to eat / drink during your race, test it in a situation that is similar to your race. This can be a long, solid workout, or during a less important race. It is very important to do this because you are often racing at a higher intensity during such a moment and your stomach is not working as well at a higher intensity.

Topics for later

There are many more factors that you can take into account, for example your sweat ratio, intake of electrolytes, proteins and other details. These are topics for the next article. This article gives you a good foundation to start with.