Nutritional Top Tips

Helen Money, Nutrition and Sports Nutrition Specialist at The Bosworth Clinic Helen Money of The Bosworth Clinic and our on-side nutritional professional talks through her top three common mistakes seen amongst triathletes when it comes to nutrition and a few ‘starters for ten’ to get you on your way.

Most athletes worry about whether they are doing enough training but what they should be worrying about is whether they are doing enough (nutritional) eating! Why don’t people put the same impetus on their nutrition when over the course of a season it consists of up to 1500 meals? This is definitely worth a read....

TTH: Helen, what would you say are the top three common mistakes or faux-pas that you see when coming into contact with triathletes?

1. Eating too little.

Triathletes are a unique breed, they are training multiple times in a day and they are asking their body to do a huge amount. The big mistake they make is forgetting that they are not normal. They do not need to follow normal guidelines. Generally speaking.

TTH: Is this more common to one sex than the other?

Interestingly, no. This sort of issue comes from different generalised reasons between men and women, but both are as bad as each other. Ladies tend to be more influenced by what mainstream (media) thoughts say that the average person should be taking on board whereas men tend to try the latest or newest quick fix or are lazier in their cooking and eating habits. [Are you interested in losing weight for your sport – read this blog before you start.]

2. Chasing Fads

The latest new style of doing weight loss is probably one of the most common adversaries to performance that athletes are letting themselves down with. There is so much media out there with new methods which either don’t have enough information, or do not have suitable studies or extensive studies. Equally, they rarely have direct links to actual performance benefits. [See this link for thoughts on some current fads.]

TTH: Do you have an example?

Well, it is never good to bad mouth any type in particular, but take ketagenic (Fat only) diets for example. In a nutshell, the reasoning being it is to improve your body’s ability to fuel from fats first. Scientific proof and decisions are still out for consideration over it. However, athletes need years to fully adapt and then on top of that, the performance levels dip and then resort back to a similar level to what they were before. At the moment, it is very fashionable amongst the endurance athletes. Yet the additional stresses it places on the body for the every day person are just not clear though usually negative. Sometimes it may be the absolutely correct call for the athlete. Surely though that decision needs to be based on fact rather than theory?

3. Thinking of nutrition as a separate entity

Nutrition is completely inherent with you, your life, your well-being, your training, your work and everything. Your body, especially as an athlete, performs best with the right fuel, dose of fuel, type of fuel and quantity; different times and scenarios impact each person differently and you need to ensure that you cover off nutrition in all aspects of what you do. If you download a generic training programme for a 5km/10km/IRONMAN, you will get a generic (safe), result. However, if you work with someone you are likely to accelerate that learning curve significantly. The same is true, only more so, with regards to your nutrition and how you go about making positive changes. What works with you, may not work for anyone else. Increasingly we are surprised by increased carbohydrate content through racing, or critical times required for positive protein synthesis after exercise which fits into your lifestyle.

TTH: So that’s what not to do, what would be your quick fire “food for thought” to help athletes out this season?

  1. Put equal planning into nutrition as training – nutrition should be planned not just happen.

  2. Make everything you eat add to your performance (and wellbeing)

  3. Always take on nutrition as recovery straight after training. Without adequate recovery athletes can get run down as training increases during the lead up to race season. It also reduces risk of injury and therefore improves training consistency and finally, it helps to prepare the athlete for their next training session

  4. Start monitoring hydration needs during training – fluid requirements vary with intensity of training, weather, clothing and between individuals. Information gained from monitoring hydration during training can then be used when forming a race plan. Check out: this handy formula to work out your sweat rates

  5. Be conscious of the intended training outcome from a session and match nutrition accordingly

  6. Create a meal plan and set up a regular delivery order for foods needed.

  7. Keep snacks in bags, glove compartments and desk drawers - be prepared

  8. Set aside time to cook and prepare for the coming week – think ahead

It is critical that if you are serious about anything to do with nutritional management you get help by someone who has your interest at heart. It is easy to read something or be sold something which comes across as perfect to you, but without the correct initial analysis and on going checks, are you sure? 

Do you feel you could benefit from some expert nutritional advice?

Follow this link to see how we can integrate your coaching programme with expert nutritional advice to keep you fuelled and in the best possible conditional all through the season. With our coaching packages, you can set up a nutritionalist to ensure that the training and also the fuelling are appropriate for each day and each session.