Common Nutrition Mistakes that Triathletes Make

Saturday, July 7, 2012 by Coach Denise

A very common mistake that I see, and have done myself more than once, is not eating enough to support big training days. Athletes often think that having a huge calorie deficit is a good thing: however in most cases it simply slows your metabolism, doesn’t allow you to have the best workout, and leads to one of the other common nutrition mistakes – eating too much on low-volume training days.

I have learned the hard way that I don’t burn enough calories during an easy one hour easy run to be able to eat an entire bag (a BIG bag, not those little ones from the gas station) of M&Ms.Training does allow you to consume more calories but in most cases it doesn’t mean that you can eat as much as you want of whatever you want, including the giant bag of peanut butter M&Ms.

To prevent these mistakes, take some time to plan your nutrition so that you are eating the right amount of calories based on the workouts that you are doing. Small calorie deficits are good when you want to lose fat, so more closely matching what you eat with what you burn is very beneficial.

Another common mistake is not testing your nutrition under racing conditions. What you can eat when doing an easy bike ride around the lake may not be the best choice when you are racing at a much higher intensity. Additionally, temperature can impact what nutrition you can tolerate. Often you have more options in cooler temperatures than when it’s hot outside.

You may have heard the saying “nothing new on race day.” This is particularly true with your nutrition. I have seen people buy the latest gels, bars, and drinks at the event expo and use it in their race the next day. This can end very badly. You should practice your nutrition during your training and stick to it during your races to reduce the chance of GI distress. This recommendation also applies to the pre-race dinner, where it can be tempting to try new things; however sticking to foods that you’ve eaten before big training sessions and races is a safer strategy.

We don’t have to learn from our own mistakes, we can learn from the triathletes that made them before us.



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