5 Rules for Triathlon Nutrition

Posted: May 21 2015

Triathletes understand that nailing race-day nutrition is often the difference between dominating and not even making it to the finish. A solid nutritional strategy will help your body make the most off all the hours spent swimming, biking, and running.

Your training regimen will have your body operating at its max, and that means you need to eat more. Just as you need the right training regimen to dominate the race, you need the right fuel to last to the end. One of the best things about training for a triathlon is that it gives you an excuse to take in a few extra calories by eating a few of your favorite foods. When you’re pushing your body to its limits, you’ll naturally be hungrier than usual, so it’s really easy to consume more than you burn.

Related: Top 15 Tips for Triathletes in 2015!

Powering up for a triathlon isn’t just about the quantity of food you consume - what you eat, and when you eat it, has a tremendous impact on your race day performance. Here are five top eating tips to ensure that you’re at your best on race day:


Most athletes are able to complete a sprint triathlon in less than two hours, so you won’t need as many carbs as you would if you were running a marathon. However, you should consume an extra 200 calories’ worth of carbs each day for two days before the race, to give you extra energy.

Breakfast Of Champions

You should have a breakfast rich in carbs, but low in fiber and fat. Try oatmeal or yogurt paired with fresh fruit and granola. Egg whites are the ultimate lean protein for breakfast - try making an egg white omelet with vegetables to add nutrients and fiber. Have a plentiful breakfast the day before the race, then continue eating frequently throughout the remainder of the day. It’s important to keep the energy flowing, so don’t go more than four hours without a snack.

Dinner Bell

You should eat dinner at around 5:30 or 6 p.m. the night before the race. That will give you plenty of time to digest everything before turning in early. It’s wise to only eat foods that are familiar and that you’ve eaten the night prior to other big workouts, to ensure that you don’t have any digestion problems. The meal should be low in fat and fiber, with moderate protein and high carbs. Start off with a salad, then pair fish with a potato or rice, and enjoy sides of veggies and bread.


Wake Up and Chow Down

Athletes who skip breakfast are setting themselves up to stall mid-race. You’ll want to steer clear of fiber to avoid any digestive distress in the middle of biking, running, or swimming. Instead, maximize your carb intake for lots of energy. You should choose foods that you know from experience are easy to digest, and eat two hours before the start of the race. Try oatmeal with granola and raisins, and be sure to hydrate with at least 16 ounces of fluid in the hours leading up to the race. Lay off drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine, as they can actually cause dehydration.

Rest and Rehydrate

Not drinking enough water is the biggest nutritional oversight that triathletes make. Dehydration can lead to cramping, headaches, dizziness, and nausea. Immediately after the race, you’ll want to focus on hydration with electrolytes - try sipping some coconut water or a sports drink. If you find that you’re ravenous immediately after the race, enjoy your post-race treats, before returning to healthy eating again.