Nutrition for Triathletes

Well I've now gone though a season with minimal injuries and actually got into the top half of one of the sprint tri's. Now considering setting next years challenges and how to reach them.

Spoke to a personal trainer (and bodybuilder) who said that one of the key things people get wrong when they're doing a reasonable amount of training was to think that the normal rules of eating apply.I explained I trained did about 8 hours a week and was wanting to improve performance and was considering upping this in 2008 to an average of about 12. He said nutition becomes more important the more you train and that eating fish, fruit and salads and not chocolate etc was OK, but really I should be looking at increasing my protein intake – specifically by protein drinks.I don’t know much about this but what do people think of this advice and have you any experiences with them?What’s the best sort or is there something else I should take?


  • I'm a bit sceptical. Maybe for bodybuilders - but not for us. A reasonable diet should be OK. Only thing I do is have a recovery drink or milkshake after a long run or long bike.

    Rest of the diet is beer and crisps. image

  • Bodybuilders always recomend protein shakes - no matter whether you are bodybuilding, training for a triathlon or learning to play the guitar.

  • I cant play the guitar, would protein shakes help?
  • I wouldn't bother with protein shakes, a balanced diet provides you with everything you need. 

  • Yes, to play the guitar you need to be drinking protein shakes, lifting heavy weights and admiring yourself in the mirror.

    fez - but I should say that like Cougie I do have a recovery shake (REGO) after long bike rides and long runs. 

  • Isn't regular chocolate milk supposed to be just as effective?
  • I think thats what they say, but as I've still got some Rego - I can use that up.

    Would be a good idea for the mag to test maybe ? Doubt they can get any real evidence though  - tired legs are a bit hard to judge.

     I also use Slimfast if I'm at races, easier to pack than Rego and the carb to protein ratio is spot on for what the scientists reccomend  - altho dont think milkshake is far off ?

  • I used to have the recovery shakes, but I find that a post-race vodka keeps them at bay.....
  • I'll stick to my yazoo. image
  • protein shakes just give you bad guts!

  • I saw a presentation last night by a chap from SIS and I spoke to him afterwards and said that all this electrolyte/recovery/energy stuff did not make any difference to an average punter like me and the real difference was seen by 'serious athletes' and professionals.  Naturally he didn't enthuse about my point of view but he did quietly agree.

    I do also support the view that bodybuilders seem to see a protein shake as a route to the holy grail of bodybuilding and a normal diet should provide all that you need.


  • So does beer and kebab, but they're all necessary training supplements, Taff!
  • The holy grail of bodybuilding is the anabolic steroid.
  • I dunno - I do think you need some decent stuff whilst racing. Certainly for long distance stuff you need to be able to get energy in and keep the salts topped up.

     Theres no need to swan round the gym knocking back sports drink though after 2 mins on a treadmill.

  • I did the Ultra on Saturday using just water, flapjack and lava salts.  Worked a treat!

    (albeit, the home made flapjack was a bit bulky - but sooooooooo worth it!)

    Energy food & drink? Pah!!!

  • I've done some long distance stuff over multiple days (admittedly completing not competing) and besides loads of homemade flapjacks - which are not much different to SIS Go bars , but alot cheaper - I just ate alot of pasta over the 6 days.  I suspect though that if I had been racing over a similar distance or time I may well have suffered from carbo depletion.


  • I find flapjacks make me forget to pick up the nutrition I'd packed in special needs......

    Seriously - forget protein shakes, you just need to eat larger quantities of what you normally eat (assuming this is reasonably healthy)

  • Simple rule for tri nutrition - lots of it!

    I reckon on choc soya milk after a hard session, toast & marmite (for salt) when it's hot, but otherwise wouldn't particularly bother too much about fiddling round with percentages of this & grammes of that. Just try to avoid actually eating the table as well & you'll be right.

    I'd suspect your bodybuilder friend was talking about bodybuilders. You don't want to end up looking or training like a bodybuilder, so you probably need to look more at carbs. Flapjack is good, so is malt loaf & jam sandwiches - see what suits you.

    BTW, I'm vegan, have been running maras & long stuff for a few years & did an IM last year, and have never used protein supplements. I'd use proper 'sports drinks' with electrolytes in for long or hot races though.
  • So does beer and kebab, but they're all necessary training supplements, Taff!

    so wickett do we need to teach you the correct loading methords of the important food groups of larger and kebab?

  • Thats lucky I eat large quantities.

    I think experienced body builders have a knack of cheating/feeding the body with protein/carbo loading depending on whether the're building muscle or lowering there fat% when going into competition. I think nutrition and quantity is critical for them,whereas not so for us as long as you eat enough. If you don't you'll fall over.

  • A healthy balanced diet, plenty of fruit, veg, white meat and fish along with the right amount of carbs should be fine.  Although do allow yourself to indulge in your favourite fast food from time to time.  depends how serious you want to get.

  • This stuff makes me laugh so much I almost fell off my chair!

    One of my colleagues at work is getting personal training from a woman in our town who is a champion bodybuilder (came fifth in the world this year for Miss Shape). Yesterday, after I had been on a brick session (1hr/20mins) she (the colleague) was asking me if I was eating mostly protein because I should be eating more protein than carbs, in fact I shouldn't be eating many carbs at all.


    Then she said that I should be eating low GI (and I thought by then she may have been confused about carbs and low GI and protein altogether).

    I eat a mix of carbs and protein but I don't have protein shakes unless I've done a really long session. I drink something made by Leppin called Active Woman and it's a protein, low fat drink for recovery. Drink nuun during a long session and take Torq bars on the bike. Otherwise it's a regular muesli bar. 

  • no carbs?

    So that pasta party is a waste of time..................................image

  • Pasta parties are always so disappointing.  People just sit around eating stuff.  I always envisaged them being a kind of linguini-based foam party - dancing around whilst being sprayed with fusilli and rigatoni.

    Maybe carbs just ain't dancin' food.  image

  • Too many people eat to much protein, the body just can't use the amount a lot of people eat on a daily basis. If the body gets too much protein it will do one of several things with it, protein cannot be stored, and therefore will be broken down to waste products. This takes place in the liver by a process of deamination. Each amino acid has an amino group and an acid group. The amino acid nitrogen, which is converted to ammonia and then urea, which passes from the liver to the kidneys. If excess urea passes through the kidneys damage and water retention can result. The acid group, is converted to carbohydrate and used for energy. Any excess will be stored as fat. Excess acid can also cause calcium to leach from bones as it provides a buffer to alkalise the bodys enviroment.

    The body needs all 6 of the classes of nutrients to be healthy


    In short the body needs the right amount of everything to maintain a heathly state, this does not mean eating an excessive amount of protein to your daily activity and body shape and condition.

  • Phew !

    All that's a lot to take in! Seems fairly unnanamous that I should stick to my healthy diet with a few treats chucked in.

    One of the good things about training is that I can happily eat 2500 - 3000 cals per day and not put on weight, but get fitter. (And have even eaten as much as 5000 cals in a 'blow out' day, so I still have to take care).

    I reckon before this year (when I started my fitness regime - and it's the only time a new years resoltuion has ever been kept by me!) I ate slightly less but was a good couple of stone heavier. Now it's a matter of just keeping an eye on the weight, but mainly burning off the cals. (Was 12st 12lbs on Jan 1, now 10st 9lbs, and late 06 was 13st 4lbs).  

  • Fez how tall are you?  
  • M.eldy - I'm 5'9''
  • thats a very low weight I would think.
  • wow Gom impressed?

    I was 14.7 in january and I'm the same today but was 13.7 in may, I've tried to stop eating when I reduced my training but my body is storing what ever I eat? So if you start training you can never stop/or don't do 2 IM's in a year as knackers up your metabolism. 

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