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Q: I am doing much more lifting this winter. How should I best fuel before and after my weight-training sessions?
A: Many triathletes have little time to strength train during peak swim-bike-run training but will benefit from it during the winter months. Consistent with pre-endurance training sessions, you need some carbohydrates to fuel working muscles and your strength workout. However, unlike your higher carb needs during endurance training, about 30 grams of carbs should suffice (the equivalent of one medium banana, or one slice of bread with jam, or one cup cooked oatmeal). Pair one of these with a good quality source of protein (like 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 1 egg or 8 ounces of milk), and you will also help facilitate muscle recovery and protein synthesis post-workout.
Following your session, aim for 20 grams of protein, along with carbs and fluid, within 30 minutes. Great options include a smoothie with fruit and 5 ounces Greek yogurt; a sandwich with 3 ounces lean protein plus fruit or milk; or a meal of fish, quinoa and vegetables. As an endurance athlete, your daily protein needs were already higher than “average,” so if you were meeting your needs in-season, you probably don’t need more total protein per day during this phase. Assuming your total training volume has decreased, you will need fewer total calories and total carbs, but you still need carbs throughout your day and specifically before and after all workouts!
Lauren Antonucci, R.D., is a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, three-time Ironman finisher and the founding director of Nutrition Energy in New York City. If you’d like to have your nutrition question answered in Triathlete magazine, email firstname.lastname@example.org.