A solid nutrition strategy will help your body make the most out of all your hours swimming, biking and running. We asked registered dietitian (and multiple Ironman finisher!) Lauren Antonucci for her top nine rules for beginner triathletes looking to maximize their training. She shared advice she gives many of her multisport athletes through her business Nutrition Energy in New York City.
Ready to learn more about triathlon? Check out our complete beginner’s guide.
1. Keep a food log for 3–5 days at least twice per year for a nutrition “reality check.” Seeing your habits written down may clue you in on what you might be missing or going overboard on.
2. Eat carbs, every day, with most meals and always before and after workouts.
3. Don’t forget your fruits and veggies! Although we’ve heard this over and over, sometimes you get busy and the produce is the first thing to slip out of your diet. Eat 2–3 fruits and 4–6 veggies per day to optimize your weight and nutrient intake.
4. Be realistic about weight loss. Losing five pounds in 5–6 weeks is possible, 10 pounds in two weeks is not. When you’re looking to shed weight, slow and steady really does win the race, especially when you’re eating to support your training. And don’t be fooled by weight loss ads or supplements. Gimmicks do not work!
5. Recover right. Consume half a gram of carbs per pound of body weight, and 15–20 grams of protein within 30–60 min after training sessions or races.
6. Follow the 10 percent rule no matter what your nutrition and health goals are: Simply put, 10 percent of your total daily calories can come from splurges, treats or desserts. This keeps your glass of wine, square of dark chocolate or ice cream cone guilt-free, but also within your nutrition budget.
7. Plan healthy snacks! Two minutes per day is enough time to pack two nutritious snacks, and will save you hundreds of unwanted calories that you’d end up eating if you were not prepared with your own.
8. Avoid foods that are high in fat and fiber for both your pre-race dinner and morning-of breakfast to keep your gut happy during the race.
9. Eat breakfast 2–3 hours before your race to allow ample time to consume adequate calories and digest them before you toe the starting line.