5 Nutrition Tips for a Great Triathlon Season!


The evenings are getting brighter, which can only mean that the new Triathlon season is fast approaching. Time for Triathletes everywhere to dust off their bikes, shake out their wetsuits and kickstart their training for the months ahead!

One of the strongest and most basic foundations you can create for a successful Triathlon season, is to incorporate the right principles of Nutrition into your lifestlye. By simply doing that – you’ll become stronger, healthier AND happier! Add those together with the right training and you’ve got a Triathlete ready to Race!! 

So what are the 5 Tips to improve your diet this season?

  1. Meet your Basic Requirements
  2. Hydrate
  3. Proper Carbo Loading
  4. Making sure you’re providing your body with the right building blocks for Recovery
  5. Fueling properly for competition!

If you can follow those simple 5 tips, you’ll be on the right road to a great Triathlon performance!

Basic requirements

  • Your diet should consist of 55-70% carbohydrates, such as brown rice, pasta, bread and cereals with 8g of carbs per kg of body weight you need this to keep all the organs in your body working.
  • 15% of your diet should come from lean protein such as chicken, beef, lamb, fish or pork about 1g per Kg of body weight. Your body requires protein to regain and support your muscle repair and growth.
  • Fat should be part of your daily intake, and is a source of Vitamins A,D,E and K. Fat is also used as a source of energy when training, try to avoid saturated or hydrogenated fats and stock up on olive oils and nuts.
  • Vitamins and Minerals help your body keep going, without them you would lose the ability to store food, move your muscles and keep your heart beating to name a few processes. You need to consume 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day to reach your recommended daily allowance (RDA). Some vital vitamins include Vitamin C, all the B Vitamins and Vitamin E and when training you should supplement with these. Some vital minerals include Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Zinc and Iron, if you consume your daily protein and carbohydrate intake along with your fruit and vegetables you will reach your RDA of these.


  • There is perhaps nothing more important to maintaining mental and physical performance than hydrating, once you become even 0.5% dehydrated your brain begins to slow down and muscle function reduces.
  • When training/ competing you should aim to consume 500mls an hour. This may not be possible when in the pool, but when cycling and running you have the perfect opportunity to get the water in. You should hydrate pre and post in order to make sure you don’t get dehydrated and remain hydrated!
  • When you sweat you lose potassium and sodium and need to replace these as quickly and efficiently as possible, a sports drink containing these will help you remain hydrated but one too high in refined sugar will leave you gasping for a drink.
  • When training you should practice weighing yourself pre and post to measure your sweat rate, you can then use this figure for competition days to ensure you remain hydrated.

Carbohydrate Loading

  • The goal of carbohydrate loading is to superload muscles with glycogen to delay fatigue and enable you to maintain high intensity exercise for longer.
  • When competing for over 90 minutes normal glycogen stores will not be enough to maintain exercise.
  • Carbohydrate loading is a method of increasing stored glycogen by 200-300%.
  • In the final three to four days before your competition, taper exercise while increasing carbohydrate intake to 9-10 g of carbohydrate per kg of body weight.
  • The idea is to increase carbohydrate intake without actually increasing total energy intake so the easiest thing to do is replace most of the fat in your diet with carbohydrate.


  • After your first session in the gym, pool or on the road you might have tried to squeeze in a banana or two but the next day you might still have felt like you couldn’t move your legs. This is due to your recovery strategy!
  • You need to analyse the type of exercise your doing and support your body in recovering but for a quick general guide ou should recover with at least 50g of carbs within the hour post exercise and follow this with another 50g carbs meal within 12 hours.
  • Protein should be consumed at around 0.5g per Kg of body weight within an hour of training.
  • Hydration as discussed above is crucial post training for mental and physical recovery.


  • The rule of thumb is don’t try anything new (in training or diet) the week of your competition, in order to avoid any physical or mental upset.
  • Use your training as a basis for how much food and fluid you need to take in pre, during and post your event, use a training diary to keep note of everything you take in this will help you find the foods that work well for you and the ones that don’t!
  • The more prepared you are in terms of your nutrition the better you will perform, make sure you bring all food and drink for your competition day/ weekend and make sure its transported properly so it stays in good condition!

Have a great Season!

Article by Tamsen McGarry

Tamsen Mc Garry – Irish Olympian, for any nutritonal advice please email tamsenmcgarry@hotmail.com

Click Here for more Tips on RACE DAY NUTRITION!

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