Training for your first triathlon is an exciting yet challenging opportunity that requires self-discipline and determination. Underestimating your energy demands during the race will not only affect your health but will rob you of the full benefits of your training. Consuming the right nutrients will allow your body to perform better, replenish its needs in a timely manner and prevent injury from occurring.
Fuel the Energy
Meeting your daily energy demands is essential when training for a triathlon. Your muscles are fueled through the ingestion of carbohydrates, which convert into glucose, providing your body with the energy it needs to function. As an athlete training for a triathlon at a moderate to intense level, you should consume 7 to 19 g of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight. You can obtain carbohydrates from whole-grain breads, pastas, cereal and fruit.
Your body requires proteins to build new tissue and repair damaged tissue. While training for a triathlon, you may go through vigorous training that will strain your muscles. For your muscles to function well and to improve your performance, you must consume a diet containing 1.2 to 2.0 g of protein per kilogram of body weight. Sources of lean protein may come from lean ground beef used sparingly, grilled chicken, turkey or fish. Other sources are beans, low-fat dairy products and plant sources such as quinoa and soy protein.
To function properly and promote heart health, your body requires fat to store energy for activity that works in conjunction with carbohydrates to burn energy. You should consume between 0.8 to 2.0 g of monounsaturated fatty acids per kilogram of body weight on a daily basis. You can find these heart-healthy fats in olive oil, canola oil and natural peanut butter. Try to incorporate two servings of food rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in oily fish, such as tuna and salmon, and in flax seeds, which you can sprinkle in salads and oatmeal.
Replenish Your Fluids
A crucial consideration during long hours of training is the amount of fluid lost through sweat. Loss of water reduces your body’s effectiveness in naturally cooling, while limiting the amount of high-energy nutrients, such as glucose and oxygen, that your blood can carry to your muscles. It is vital that you replenish your fluids and properly hydrate before, during and after training sessions. Consume 17 to 20 ounces of fluid approximately two hours prior to training and drink 7 to 10 ounces about 10 to 20 minutes before the exercise. During physical activity, you must hydrate with 7 to 10 ounces of a sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes, to replenish lost electrolytes. After training, restore your body’s fluids with 20 to 24 ounce of sport drink for every pound lost.