Nutrition for Triathlon: How to get the best performance

A triathlon is one of the trickiest and most difficult types of event you can try, but the challenge is what makes it great. This race comprises a swimming section, followed by a large bicycle ride, and finally a long stretch of running. Therefore it’s important to get the right nutrition for triathlon right in order to maximise performance and keep yourself healthy.

As a triathlon race is continuous, the racers are not given any break to relax between each event. Therefore the most important thing required to survive a triathlon and reach the finish line before the others is stamina. Individuals need to have enough strength and supply of energy to push themselves towards the end, and the ultimate source of building stamina and fueling your body is…food!

However, if you are participating in a triathlon, you are not supposed to have an ordinary everyday meal. Rather, you have to be very specific regarding your diet so that it keeps you active and energetic throughout the day. Following are some effective and useful tips for race day nutrition.

Start Loading up on Carbs

Carbs are at the top of the list because of their relatively high significance. The cells of our body burn glucose for instant energy and that’s why it is considered one of the best sources for the production of energy. Professional trainers recommend that racers should start consuming carb-loaded sources such as grains, white bread, rice, potatoes and more a few days before the final day.

The excess glucose consumed by the body is converted into glycogen, which is stored in the muscles and liver cells. This stored glycogen then releases glucose when you are performing strenuous workouts on race day.  

Reduce your Caffeine Intake

People addicted to coffee and other caffeine sources should keep this tip in mind a day or two before the race, they should bring their caffeine intake to a minimum. Caffeine is great for smaller workouts as it will give your body a boost both physically and mentally. However, once the caffeine has been used up your body will hit a low and you may feel tired and fatigued. 

This is not something that you need for the race day; rather, you need a consistent and continuous supply of energy from the beginning to the end of the race. 

The Sodium Boost

Whilst there is a lot of emphasis on food and drink, don’t forget that sodium is one of the most essential ions that the body requires all the time as it regulates the nervous system. Moreover, the fact that athletes lose 800 to 4000 milligrams of this ion each hour makes it even more necessary to consume enough of it, to avoid any breakdown due to a lack of sodium.  

Sodium can be found in a variety of places – salts, condiments, meat, fish, poultry and more. It’s worth checking the labels on your food and trying to increase your sodium intake to compensate for the loss experienced during the race.

Filling your Bottles with Energy Drinks

Contrary to a common belief, professional triathlon trainers say that it is not very wise of racers to consume lots of water prior to the beginning of the race. This is because water develops a slushy belly which affects the performance of the participants in a negative way. Rather, it is advised to consume a good proportion of energy drinks that are loaded with nutritious herbs and essential ions that boost the metabolism of the body, regulate blood pressure, and improve your stamina.

Further reading from our blog;

Complete guide to triathlon distances and average times

What is a Duathlon?

How to train for a duathlon for beginners