Ask the Experts: Triathlon Nutrition Q+A with Lynn Clay

Hi everyone,

Maxifuel sports nutritionist Lynn Clay will be live in our forum between 1-2pm today to answer your queries about triathlon nutrition.

Lynn Clay is a sports scientist, nutrition consultant and freelance journalist with eight years experience in the nutrition industry. She’s a former AAA gold medallist runner, a keen cyclist and she’s competing in Ironman Austria this summer, so she’ll be ready for all your nutrition questions.

If you're wondering what to eat and when in training or racing - and afterwards, Lynn's got the answers. 

We're opening the discussion now so Lynn will be able to get stuck in straight away at 1pm - so get posting!



  • Hi Lynn,

    I tend to find on days where I've had a particularly hard training session the previous evening I feel alot hungrier the next day than normal. Is there any particular groups of foods I should be eating that day to keep the hunger pangs at bay? 

    I feel I tend to eat too much to satisfy the hunger which defeats the purpose of the training/exercise in the first place, to slim down a little.


  • Hi Lynn

    My blood sugar levels frequently drop - round about the 5 mile mark when running. The feeling is awful and I can't go on running. Usual pre run meal would be poached eggs on brown toast. Ive now got a psychological fear and it's ruining my training! Help!

  • Hi Lynn .. well timed from my point of view

    I am doing my 7th start on the Iornman line this year and hopefully looking for a slightly better time than 'just finish'

    Over the last few sessions and especially the long bike sessions the nutrition as become more of a key factor and I realise that I may need to up the carb intake during the bike in order for my body to fulfill its obligation!!  Suffered a little towards the end of an 85miler yesterday and realise I need to address this

    I weigh roughly 150lbs and the event is sponsored by High5, I have no problem with taking on board gels/sports drink or anything that moves really but I am a little concerned about overdoing it and bringing on any GI issues.  What would you reccommend as a good source per hour over the bike leg?  


    Enjoy Austria, its a beautiful course!!

  • Hey Lynn

    After my long runs (18-22mi) I tend to just spend the rest of the day/evening stuffing my face with literally anything, how detremental is this to my training?


  • Hello Lynn,

    as a follow on to Meldy's question- what's the current thinking on taking in protein during a long distance event? 

  • What is your thinkin/srategy for long bike training sessions? I try and stick to race nutrition but often find the more i eat the better i feel. My worry is that I actually eat more calories than I burn.

    Do you try and stick to race nutrition on training rides or do you eat less?

  • On long bike rides I often want something savoury to break up the endless gels. What would you recommend that's easy to digest, easy to carry etc?

    Also on rest days I find I'm as hungry as on training days! Should I be aiming to eat a similar proportion and amount of carbs/protein on rest days?

    Thank you!

  • jelly beanjelly bean ✭✭✭

    Hello Lynn,

    Can you give any advice on nutrition for long distance events that run non stop for several days, especially with regard to vitamin and nutrient intake/depletion.


  • I will be competing in a 24hr event at the end of July which will involve myself and a running partner seeing how many 10k laps we can do between us over 24hrs.

    After doing it last year, I felt that the lack of correct nutrition through the event affected my performance. To add to the issue, I am a Coeliac and have to follow a strict Gluten Free diet and therefore all oat based products are out too.

    It needs to be pre-prepared food really as you have less than an hour between each run with know cooking facilities apart from a camping stove.


  • Hi Tony,

    It's common for triathletes to battle with hunger due to the heavy demands on energy.  Eating small regular meals accross the day rather than 3 large meals can help with energy balance whilst curbing cravings.  Although you need to replace carbohydrate, doing it by choosing a low glycemic energy source in each meal or snack and combining it with a protein rich food and some salad, fruit or vegetables will slow down the rate at which the carbohydrates are released and fill you up (protein and fibre are both great at filling us up).  If you have a hard evening workout then 2 hours before and again immediately afterwards and eat breakfast the following day as soon as you wake.  Eating every 2 to 3 hours and combining foods in this way should keep your appetite in check.  I hope this helps.  Lynn.

  • Hi Chris Henry,

    I recommend that you switch to a pre-run meal that is easier to digest than your current choice, choosing something like porridge which will provide more stable energy release.  You should also look to feed your run aiming for up to 1g or carbohydrate intake per kg you weigh  per hour of running as this week keep your energy levels up and allow you to maintain pace past the 5 mile mark. Your ability to digest carbs as you run will dictate what level works for you but ideally aim for between 30 and 60g per hour.  This is easy to achieve choosing gels.  I like to space mine accross the hour taking 1 every 30 minutes of running (maxifuel viper active gels contain 25g carbs  per gel) and washing it down with 250-300ml of water which I carry on a running belt.   This fuelling plan should help you avoid the dreaded dip. Lynn.

  • M Eldy,

    Firstly congratulations. To be getting ready for your 7th Ironman is impressive.   

    I recommend that you aim to take on up to 68g carbohydrate per hour (1g per kilo) if you can usually tolerate this amount.  At the beginning of the bike leg you may wish to achieve some of this from bars but the bulk of it should come from your drink as this will supply fluid too and be easier to digest.  If you mix a 750ml bottle with 45 grams of carbs you can then aim to take on this each hour + additional carbs from bars (+ additional water if your sweat rate is higher than this) in the first half of the bike leg and gels in the 2nd half (as these are easier to digest later on in the race).  Having said that, High 5 provide a drink which is a mix of glucose & fructose so you may be able to go slightly higher than 68g per hour.  I would experiment starting at 60g per hour and working upwards in training (to 90g if you get that far) to see what you tolerate. You will then find the maximum you can tolerate without GI issues. The key is that you keep your fluid and carbohydrate in balance so you are ingesting carbs in a 6 to 8% solution (45-60g per 750ml water). Bear in mind that as exercise intensity or duration increase, your ability to digest carbohydrates will reduce. This may mean that you are taking on 80g in the first hour, 75 in the second, 70 in the third etc.  If you are racing in the heat then this will reduce your ability to digest carbohydrates further.  I hope this helps and good luck with your 7th IM.  



  • HI Jimmy F,

    You certainly need to replace calories and particularly refill your glycogen stores after training but what you choose to refeed on can impact recovery and health.  There is no harm in taking in a few sugars, treating yourself to confectionary or odd cake as in this scenario it will simply aid refuelling. Ideally, however, you should aim for 80% of your calories to be from 'healthy' sources, selecting lean proteins, low glycemic (wholegrain) carbohydrates, healthy fats and lots of fruit and vegetables. There is evidence to suggest that eating a wholefood rich diet speeds the recovery process by reducing the inflammatory effect that sugars can have on the body.  In an ideal world I would suggest you get some fast digesting calories into your body immediately after your run (1g carbohydrate per kilogram you weigh + 10-20g protein). You should ideally then time your next meal for approx 1 hour later and aim to graze eating healthy meals or snacks every 2 to 3 hours from that point on accross the day.  This will reduce that ravenous feeling you might be getting too. Lynn.

  • Hi Ferris Ferret,

    Protein during exercise is a relatively new area of scientific interest. Some research suggests that muscle damage is reduced after exercise when protein is included in the fuelling regime, however, no performance advantage has been shown in studies in a temperate climate.  Some studies looking at protein added to carbs when exercising in a hot environment however have found a performance benefit which they believe is due to an improved thermoregulation.  There has also been a suggestion that digestion is less impaired over a long event due to a possible protective effect on the gut (this has been suggested for collostrum too). 

    My take out from this is that as the response to fuelling is very individual, it is worth considering taking on protein in your carbohydrate drink if you digest it well and have tried and tested it in training.  If you're in a hard training block then potentially the protective effect on the muscle could support recovery from workout to workout and if you're racing in the heat you could potentially reap the most benefit.

    Hope this answers your question. Lynn.

  • Hi Ajford 1,

    I personally stick to race fuelling working on 1g carbohydrate per kilogram of body mass per hour.  The key is being able to get your carbohydrates on board in the right balance with fluid to avoid GI distress (aim for a 6-8% concentration, e.g. 45-60g carb per 750 ml water).  When following this it is very unlikely that you'll consume more calories than you burn.  Keeping within this range will allow you to run better off the bike too.  Everyone is very different, however, and if you find a nutrition plan that works for you that is slightly different from the science then this is the one you should go with.  Science is the start point and then every individual should look at how that science fits them and gradually experiment to find out what fuels them best. Lynn.

  • Thank you Lynn ... I will have to look at the numbers for the High5 drink they are using and see how that works

  • Hi Alex Scott Hamilton,

    Yes, I totally understand this. Its very common to want a savoury snack to get away from endless sweet flavoured foods on the bike!  You can go for something a little less sweet by making up Jam or Honey Sandwiches which will be pretty easy to digest, or perhaps try making up some rice cakes and wrapping them in foil. This is a favourite of elite cyclists and you can find a recipe from Dr Allen Lim (Garmin Cervelo team) online to make these up combining sushi rice, egg and soy sauce (for sodium) with over savoury ingredients.  Lynn.


  • Hi Jelly Bean,

    Multi-day events require a very different approach to fuelling which would be tailored for the event in question taking into account the discipline, your body weight and composition, your individual tolerances and what (if any) break time you have from day to day.  If you send me an outline of your event with more detail (and include your body comp data if you have it) I can answer this in the detail required separate to this Q & A.  Lynn.

  • Hi Wayne,

    Sounds like a great event which will require quite a bit of focus. Your fuelling plan will depend on how you are going to break up the laps between you, but an absolute definate recommendation is that you aim to take on 60-90g carbs per hour that you are actually running along with water and electrolytes.  It is a good idea to work out your sweat rates before the event. How much fluid do you lose over an hour of running? knowing this will allow you to hydrate effectively throughout which will have a huge impact on performance.  To do this weigh yourself unclothed before and after a 1 hour run at race pace.  For each 0.1kg lost you need 100ml fluid next time you run. e.g. if you lose 0.5 kg then your replacement need is 500ml per hour.    Choose easy to digest carbohydrate foods and keep protein and fibre low so that you can digest food faster.  White sushi rice is good basic staple and perhaps add some soy sauce in for sodium.  Keep it basic and catch up on your veggies after the race. Lynn.

  • Hi all,

    Thank you for such great questions - and thank you Lynn for answering them! We'll be back soon with another triathlon webchat, but until then, happy training and racing!


  • Thanks for all of your questions.  If you have any others burning, visit and contact me on the ask the experts page.

  • Thanks Lynn for your advise, I will definately do the weighing to check fluid loss. I think my local supermarket do a gluten-free Soy sauce so will give that a try.

    We will be running alternate laps over the 24hrs. Last year I had a big bucket of cold GF pasta, tuna and cashew nuts and just ate it when I fealt the need. Do I need to eat more controlled measures of food.

    Sorry for sneaking the extra question in.

    Really appreciate your advice, Wayne


  • I'll unstick now Kittenkat.


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