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Q: What are some foods you consistently see triathletes eating that they should avoid?
I love this question! Here are three of my top “skip ’em” foods:
1. Reduced fat peanut butter.
At a quick glance it sounds promising, but look further and you’ll find that reduced fat versions of this favorite food will only save you 10–20 calories per 2 tablespoon serving, and will cost you in terms of more carbs, more total grams of added sugars and an ingredient list that starts with corn syrup solids and sugar, rather than peanuts!
2. Baked chips.
Again, first pass looks good with a reduction from 160 calories per 1-ounce serving to 120 calories, and from 10 grams to 2 grams of total fat. But these chips come with added sugars, and the reduction in total fat also means that these chips are not very filling. My triathlete clients know that potato chips are not healthy, so can usually stick to a serving, but switch to baked chips and portion control goes out the window. Instead, try a single serving of tortilla chips, which have 140 calories, a more modest 7 grams of fat, no added sugar and only three ingredients.
3. Traditional cooking sprays.
Although the labels claim these products are “fat free,” that’s only because they have chosen to define the serving size as a third-of-a-second spray. A one-second spray would set you back only 7.5 calories and 0.8–0.9 grams of saturated fat, but I know that those who use cooking sprays generally use way more than this amount. Spraying for 5 seconds equals 37.5 calories and 4.5 grams of fat! Instead, stick to 1–2 teaspoons of olive or avocado oil, or even real butter, and feel good about it.
Lauren Antonucci, R.D., is a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, three-time Ironman and founding director of Nutrition Energy in NYC. If you’d like to have your nutrition questions answered in Triathlete magazine, send an email to email@example.com.
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