Triathlon is, without doubt, one of the most gruelling sports in the world combining swimming, cycling and running over various distances. The physical requirements of this sport demand a well trained and well fuelled body. One of the strongest and most basic foundations you can create for a successful Triathlon season is to incorporate the right principles of Nutrition into your lifestyle. By simply doing that - you’ll become stronger, healthier and together with the right training and you’ve become a better Triathlete ready to Race!!
Your basic diet should consist of 55-70% carbohydrates, such as brown rice, pasta, bread and cereals. At certain times e.g. pre-race or pre heavy training sessions you will need to increase this proportion in order to “carbohydrate load” your regular diet. The aim of carb loading is to superload muscles with glycogen to delay fatigue and enable you to maintain high intensity exercise for longer. There are many supplements available to help you with your carbohydrate loading phase. If you have experienced drops in energy during your race you may find that using energy gels increases your energy levels and improves your performance.
Protein is the building blocks for muscle so it is essential to ensure that your diet contains enough high quality protein to support muscle growth, maintenance and repair. You may sometimes find it difficult or expensive to consume enough high quality protein, you could consider adding a high quality whey protein supplement to your diet to ensure you are getting the protein quality you need.
There is perhaps nothing more important to maintaining mental and physical performance than hydrating. Once you become even 0.5% dehydrated your brain begins to slow down and muscle function reduces. You should hydrate pre and post in order to make sure you don’t get dehydrated. A sports drink containing essential minerals will help you remain hydrated and replace lost electrolytes but be careful not to consume one too high in refined sugar as it will give you a spike in energy with a subsequent drop. Look for a good quality mix of fast and slow release carbohydrates that will sustain you through training or competition.
The physical demands of Triathlon are extreme. As muscles become fatigued from exercise it is essential to give them the fuel to recover. Protein and carbohydrates are regarded as essential for helping the body recover and grow after physical exercise. A recovery supplement combining protein, carbohydrates and other essential ingredients will promote proper recovery after exercise. Hydration as discussed above is crucial post training for mental and physical recovery.
Once the basic components of your diet are in place, such as carbohydrates and proteins, it is useful to look at products that can enhance your performance and push your fitness beyond your opponents. Supplements that can reduce cramping are now readily available as are supplements which increase the oxygenation of the blood. The inclusion of these supplements in your diet may give you that performance edge you are looking for. Vitamins and Minerals help your body keep going, without them you would lose the ability to store food, move your muscles and keep your heart beating to name a few processes. A comprehensive multi vitamin should be a part of any serious athletes’ daily supplementation. With the physical stress endured in Triathlon it is also a good idea to include a supplement such as Omega 3 to look after your bones and joints.
Recommended Supplements to improve Triathlon performance:
1. Energy Gels