In 2017, I spent a lot of time working with my athletes in many different aspects of training, from mental to physical. I have found time and time again with most athletes, from the beginner level all the way to elite, that the biggest limiter for the athletes success had nothing to do with their training, and much more to do with their nutrition habits (and race fuelling habits).
It’s very important to keep in mind, that when I talk about this topic, that my reference to “nutrition” and “fueling” are two separate items, so it’s important to know the difference, but it’s also important to understand how they must be connected for a triathlete or any endurance athlete.
I wrote an article specifically on fuelling for long distance athletes. So here I am just going to discuss a few few basic recommendations for general eating outside of your workouts.
For an endurance athlete to be successful, they must have a solid platform based on strong eating habits, otherwise, the body will not be able to sustain a higher workload season after season, and the athletes ‘gainz’ will be very limited.
The basics of day to day nutrition do NOT need to be overly complicated. The Core Diet (a QT2 Systems Brand) focus on eating REAL food outside of the windows of training, to put it simply.
Here are some of my top tips to get started in 2018 with the right eating habits to help you perform your best this year:
- Focus on core foods – When we say “core foods”, we refer to lean proteins (I recommend this in the form of meat, but there are many lean protein options out there there fit the vegan or vegetarian lifestyle), whole fruit, whole veggies, lean dairy, nuts & legumes. If you focus on eating primarily these foods, you are already on the right track. Foods with high nutrient density is the name of the game here. Less nutrient dense foods CAN serve a purpose when training at a high volume, but timing is important to prevent unnecessary weight gain and to ensure the athlete is achieving all of their micronutrient needs for each day.
- Eat enough protein: The amount daily protein required here will vary from person to person, but adequate protein is necessary for an endurance athlete to stay strong year after year.
- Eat carbs, but be smart about it! As stated above, nutrient density is very important. When you eat carbohydrates outside of your training, make them from a smart source. Replace eating a bowl of pasta, or rice, or bread with nutrient dense carbohydrate sources such as fruits and veggies. Fruits and Veggies provide a substantial amount of nutrient density, but also a high level of fiber and micronutrients. I tell everyone to ensure they eat a FULL 3 to 4 services for fruits and veggies per day, if you can do that, you are already way ahead of the curve.
- Dial back on processed foods and unnecessary sugar. Sugar intake is arguably the largest problem in today’s health, leading to massive weight gain over this generation. Added sugar and processed foods virtually have zero nutrient density. As above, sugars can serve a purpose while training, but can be very harmful outside of your training windows.
These are just a few basic tips that may help your day to day lifestyle in the way of better eating habits. Each individual will have different needs, but the above can apply to everyone.
If you feel you have mastered these basic tips, and have further specific questions, I am always available to answer questions.
Paul is a United States Army Veteran, USAT Certified Coach, QT2 Systems Level 1 Coach, and OutRival Racing Level 3 coach.
Paul also competes in triathlon and running events in his spare time.
- 70.3 PR (4:24:26)
140.6 PR – (9:51:53)
- Half Marathon – (1:24:21 open)
- Marathon – (2:57:27)