Triathlon Nutrition: Your Essential Questions Answered

Triathlon nutrition is an often overlooked, but extremely vital aspect of your training that needs to be considered. When training and preparing for a big race such as a triathlon, your sole focus may be on the three disciplines; swimming, cycling and running. However, WHAT we put in our bodies and WHEN can have just as much of an impact as training. 

For example, if you skip fuelling your body with the right foods, you will essentially be running on empty and find your energy levels depleted before you even reach the second leg of the race. Conversely, if you stock up on starchy carbs right before you step up to the starting line you will be slowed down by a stitch, indigestion or nausea.

To help you  fuel yourself with the right foods at the right time, here at Kitbrix we have answered your most frequently asked triathlon nutrition questions...

triathlon nutrition

1. When should I eat before a triathlon race?

Building up your energy stores prior to an endurance race is vital. However, it is important not to do this too close to the start time as your body will need time to digest your food. It is advised to eat 2-3 hours prior to the race to give you ample time to digest.

2. What should I eat before a triathlon?

The morning of the race, ensure you consume a balanced and hearty breakfast. This should include healthy fats, carbohydrates and protein such as peanut butter, porridge, fresh fruit and almonds. Also, don’t forget to re-hydrate too!

3. Should I eat during a triathlon race?

This depends on the length of the race! If your triathlon distance takes 120 minutes to complete or less, you probably won’t need to refuel during the event apart from liquid and re-hydration as you will naturally have stores of energy. However, if the race takes longer than 120 minutes to complete (Olympic triathlon, Half Ironman and Ironman triathlon) you will need to top up your energy during the race. 

4. What are easy ways to consume triathlon nutrition during the race?

There are many ways you can top up your energy reserves during a triathlon event. It is always best to experiment with these prior to race day to find which one works best for you. Options include sweets, energy drinks, energy gels, energy bars, sandwiches, flapjacks and dried fruits.

5. What triathlon nutrition should I be consuming during the race, and when?

If your triathlon race is longer than 120 minutes it would be best to create a triathlon nutrition plan. For example during the swim your body should have enough energy stores that you can complete this leg on your natural energy reserves, only stopping for liquids and energy gels. When you get to the cycling leg, you may need a boost. Take advantage of the storage options on the bike, and use this time to consume any solids you may require. These can include flapjacks and energy bars. Lastly, during the running leg you may feel your energy levels begin to dip. This is when high energy sources are vital, such as energy gels, sweets and gummies. These are also easier to consume whilst running.  

6. What triathlon nutrition should I be consuming post-triathlon?

As mentioned earlier, what you consume post-triathlon can affect recovery time. Whilst it may be tempting to feast on a burger and a beer as soon as you cross the finish line, what you consume in the 15-30 minutes immediately after are just as important as what you consumed before the race. Once you have finished celebrating it is recommended to consume 40-50 grams of carbohydrates, 15-25 grams of protein and 240-300 calories in total. In a snack this could look like a bowl of cereal with a yogurt, a peanut butter sandwich, or something similar to refuel. 

Later that evening, tuck into a hearty meal that will aid your muscle recovery. Fish and green vegetables in particular have anti-inflammatory properties which will ease muscle stiffness and help you to recover quicker. 

triathlon nutrition

To answer more of your frequently asked questions you can read our other blogs here…

Triathlon Swimming: Your Essential Triathlon Questions Answered

Triathlon Running: Your Essential Triathlon Questions Answered

Triathlon Cycling: Your Essential Triathlon Questions Answered

Triathlon Essential Questions Answered