The Ultimate Guide to Mastering the Triathletes Diet

triathletes diet

Over 4 million people in the US participated in a triathlon in 2017. This is a huge increase from a decade ago when just 1.28 million people participated in one.

This sport is bigger than its ever been before. More than 2,300 of the world’s top athletes lined up to compete in Kona 2016.

If you are serious about training for a triathlon, you need to get serious about your nutrition. Read on for everything you need to know about the triathletes diet.

Get Your Meals On Time

The most important aspect of triathlon nutrition is the timing of your meals.

The right foods at the right time will have a huge impact on your performance. The opposite is also true.

Here are the best practices for what and when to eat as you follow a triathlon diet.

Right Before a Workout

You need to fuel your workout for optimal output. This means eating a pre-workout snack half an hour before you hit the gym. It can be a banana or an energy bar — just something small to give you a boost for all the calories you are about to burn.

Whatever you do, don’t start a workout hungry. You run the risk of injuring yourself during your sweat sesh as well as underperforming and becoming dangerously fatigued. Let’s avoid fainting at the gym, shall we?

1.5-2 Hours Before a Workout

The 2-hour window before a workout is crucial. During this time you should avoid consuming any heavy fats and too much protein.

A cheesy pizza is out of the question. Same goes for 10 strips of bacon and eggs.

What you really need is some carbs for fuel during your workout. 90 minutes before you get started is the ideal time to eat before pushing yourself to the limit.

A turkey breast sandwich with mustard, lettuce, and tomato is just the right amount of carb and protein ratio you need for your workout.

During this 2-hour period before you push yourself into the red zone, it’s best to avoid foods which are high in fiber. This helps make sure you don’t need to run to the bathroom for a bowel movement during your set.

Broccoli, beans, carrots, spinach, and beets are all high in fiber. Generally, the darker the fruit or vegetable, the more fiber it has. These are all great options post-workout but not ideal before you hit the gym.

During your workout, pay attention to how you feel. If you feel light and full of energy during the entire routine, you’re fueling appropriately before you start.

If you feel sluggish, you may be taking in too much fat or protein or too little carbs. If you experience GI distress during your time at the gym, you are likely having too many carbs before your workout.

Consider doing a cleanse on your off days to get you back in fighting form. Visit for info about cleanse days.

30-60 Minutes After a Workout

After a serious exercise session, the muscles in your body are primed to accept nutrients. The foods you consume after a workout session are just as important as what you ate before one.

Within an hour of finishing your workout, you need to replenish your body with carbs and protein. Aim for 1-1.2 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight as well as 10-25 grams of protein.

Avoid taking in any fats right after a workout as fats block carbohydrates from being absorbed. You can add fats to your menu later on in the day.

An easy way to get what you need into your bloodstream is to drink a sports recovery drink. These shakes have the right balance of protein and carbs your body needs to recover. There’s nothing like a chocolate protein milkshake after your shower.

Monitor Macronutrients

When you train as hard as an elite athlete, you need to spend the same effort in ensuring your body is getting the macronutrients it needs for optimal performance.

Macronutrients (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates) have specific roles and benefits. It’s important you get the proper dose of each one every day.

Monitoring macronutrients is a science and there are several books you can buy on the subject. For example, The Complete Nutrition Guide for Triathletes, by Jamie A. Cooper.

The percentage of each macro you need depends on the kind of triathlete you are. An Ironman triathlete will need more carbs than a short-course triathlete simply because of the added training hours.

A good ballpark figure is to intake 15-20% of your daily caloric intake from protein, 20-35% from fats, and 45-65% from carbs.

If you feel fatigued during the day, or low on energy at any point during your workout, you should look at tweaking your macros for better results.

Hydration is Just as Vital as Nutrition

When you get thirsty during your workout, you’re late in taking in water. Instead, get into the habit of drinking water during your entire workout.

If you head into your workout thirsty, you are partially dehydrated. This is no way to start your sweat sesh.

So much relies on hydration including healthy skin, healthy brain activity, digestion, and nutrient absorption.

But how much water do triathletes need? First, you need to consider your weight. You should drink half your body weight in ounces a day. So if you weigh 200 pounds you need at least 100 oz (or 2.8 Litres) of water each day.

This doesn’t count the water you drink during your workouts. While you sweat, you are losing electrolytes and water. It’s important to replenish both. It’s a good idea to drink a low-sugar electrolyte sports drink to keep your minerals and salts up when you sweat.

Bottom Line on Triathletes Diet

Serious athleticism requires rigorous attention to nutrition. A triathletes diet focuses on the proper timing of meals, the right macronutrients for each individual, and excellent hydration.

Next, check out these mobile fitness apps to help you reach your triathlon goals.