• Nigel

Eat to Compete

With other triathlon coaches, I attended GlaxoSmithKline’s “Eat to Compete” workshop at the end of May. The evening covered basic nutritional requirements, diet myths and supplements as well as calculators for nutrition planning. The emphasis was on a healthy, balanced diet proportional to training load and intensity with a focus on timing including getting sufficient carbohydrate and protein on board within 30 minutes of finishing a training session or race.

The overall recommendations for macronutrients were:

  • Carbohydrates 60% ( for energy to train and cognitive function)

  • Protein 25% (to build and repair muscles)

  • Fat 15% (with an emphasis on mono & polyunsaturated fats for training long and for vitamin transport (A, D, E & K))

We looked at some fashionable diets including the low carbohydrate/high fat diet applied to triathlon. This means a carbohydrate intake of less than 25% and a fat intake of over 60% of your diet. The thinking, applied to triathlon, is to train the body to use fat as an energy source better and be able to draw on the body’s fat reserves in longer events. The research to date is mixed though and this diet appears to restrict high end ultra and endurance performance. The recommendation was only to use the diet off season for weight loss if required.

We also looked at some supplements including:

  • Beetroot Juice: The idea is that the production of nitric oxide will reduce fatigue and lower blood pressure. The protocol is 300mg of nitrate, 2.5-3 hours before exercise (with 100g beetroot = 200-250mg nitrate). However high performers tend not to respond to nitrates and many people just cannot stomach that much beetroot!

  • Caffeine: The caffeine content is a stimulant boosting mental and physical performance. It was on the WADA banned list until 2004. The current protocol is 1-3 mg/kg body weight an hour before exercise. Typical caffeine content s given were a single espresso 27mg, a can of cola 40mg, a can of red bull 80mg, and a cup of brewed coffee 60-80mg. Research has not found a direct relationship with glycogen burning.

The calculators for nutrition planning merit a section on their own and I’ll cover them separately at a later date.


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