How To Get Started in Triathlon – Nutrition and Recovery

In the last post, we saw which accessories are essential to immerse yourself in this new world. Today we will look at what to eat and how to regain your strength.

Nutrition For Triathlon Beginners 

Proper nutrition is the key to success in beginner triathlon sessions, both in racing and training.

You shouldn’t run a triathlon drinking water alone. Eating and hydrating properly is essential to maintain quality training and to ensure replenishment on race day. During training sessions lasting more than 60 minutes, you should eat and hydrate by taking in 200-300 calories per hour to provide energy and delay binge eating. The addition of branched-chain amino acids can help reduce mental fatigue and decrease muscle damage. Small amounts of caffeine can improve performance by increasing concentration and decreasing perceived exertion during exercise. As a general rule, it is recommended to take one or two 100-calorie gels per hour with water, in addition to consuming 700 ml of sports drink to maintain an ideal state of hydration. Within 30 minutes after the end of a training session or competition, it is essential to focus on repair and recovery. Consume a recovery drink with a quality protein source to help inhibit muscle tissue breakdown and promote muscle building, as well as carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores. This is essential in order to be able to start the next training session in a recovered state.

On the day of the race, you will have the option of using the nutritional products provided on the course or you can bring your own. In general, the more liquid the source of nutrition (such as carbohydrate drinks or energy gels), the easier it will be to digest on the move and at race pace.  Energy bars are another easily digestible alternative for those who don’t like the consistency of energy gels. Ultimately, sports nutrition has a very individual element that depends on what works best with the body’s chemistry, digestive system and taste buds, so it is essential to proceed by trial and error during training. There is no one-size-fits-all recipe, so you will need to devise your own ideal dietary protocol.

Adequate nutrition around the clock to support a sporting lifestyle is the key to success. The body cannot be expected to perform at its best day in and day out without adequate hydration and nutrition. Good nutritional choices involve forethought, planning and preparation, just like packing your gym bag or equipment before a big training day. Buy low-processed foods, learn to cook simply, preserving nutrients without adding saturated fats, such as steaming, baking or grilling, pay attention to your fluid and food intake in relation to how you feel during the day and, after a workout of an hour or more, make sure you consume a mix of carbohydrates and protein, such as chocolate milk, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a protein and fruit smoothie.

In addition, it is recommended to consume lean protein throughout the day, such as eggs or Greek yoghurt for breakfast, tuna or hummus for lunch and lean beef, turkey, chicken or tofu and beans for dinner. Carbohydrates, the main source of fuel for endurance athletes, should make up a quarter of the plate at each meal (wholemeal bread, cereals, oats, rice, quinoa, barley or wholemeal pasta). Include healthy fats that promote satiety, such as avocados, olive oil, nuts, olives or peanut butter, and try to eat four servings of fruit and vegetables and low-fat dairy products to complete a high-quality nutrition plan. Athletes should include 50-60% of their total food intake in the form of carbohydrates, 15-20% in the form of protein and 20-35% in the form of fat, depending on the time of year, preferred choices and training phase. Focus less on the quantity of food you eat and more on the quality of the food you eat. If the quality improves, the content is adjusted accordingly and more antioxidants are ingested, you will feel fuller and have more energy, which promotes the ability to swim, cycle, run and feel good in general.

Rules for recovery

In triathlon training for beginners, recovery should not be neglected.

Recovery is a fundamental component of triathlon training, as in swimming, cycling and running. You should consider recovery as a part of your training programme: a time that will help you maximise the return on your hard work in training. No matter how hard you train, you won’t arrive on race day ready to excel without properly integrated recovery. But be careful because recovery is not as simple as lying on the couch or taking a day off from physical activity. We should group recovery into three main areas: the first is a training plan designed with frequent days of low-intensity sessions to help the body rejuvenate and prepare for key training sessions that lead to big gains in fitness. The second aspect of recovery has to do with the athlete’s lifestyle choices, focusing on plenty of sleep and quality nutrition. The last component of recovery includes activities such as massage and stretching. But be careful, do not pay too much attention to these two activities if you have not yet engaged in the first two phases.

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