Episode 35 - Just because you eat really healthy, doesn't mean you're fuelling for training

Just because you eat really healthy, doesn't mean you're fuelling for training

It’s not often someone walks through my doors that generally eat really well. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources and minimal junk. But just because you eat healthily, doesn’t mean you’re fuelling your body with the right things to support triathlon training.

Jody is a naturopath, triathlete, mumma, wife and Triathlon Nutrition Academy athlete. She shares her experiences on what it’s like to be a member of the TNA program as a healthy eating naturopath - what she’s learnt so far, what she wasn’t expecting to find, plus so much more!

If you’re ready to understand what you need to be eating to support triathlon training, join us inside the Triathlon Nutrition Academy. Doors open in April! Learn More HERE

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Episode Transcription

Episode 35 - Just because you eat really healthy, doesn't mean you're fuelling for training 

Taryn Richardson  00:00
Welcome to the Triathlon Nutrition Academy podcast, the show designed to serve you up evidence-based sports nutrition advice from the experts. Hi, I'm your host Taryn, Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Advanced Sports Dietitian, and founder of Dietitian Approved. Listen as I break down the latest evidence to give you practical, easy to digest strategies to train hard, recover faster and perform at your best. You have so much potential, and I want to help you unlock that with the power of nutrition. Let's get into it. 

Taryn Richardson  00:40
Alright, welcome to the podcast, Jody!

Jody Walker  00:45

Taryn Richardson  00:47
Now I wanted to get you on the podcast today because you're one of our Triathlon Nutrition Academy members. But you've also worked with me one on one as a private client for, I don't even know how long. But you have a really cool, interesting story that I would like to share with the world. So let's kick things off and just introduce you a little bit. How do you pay for your triathlon habit?

Jody Walker  01:07
I love this question. And the running joke with my husband is that I work purely to support this habit that I've got of mine that I've had for the last five years. I'm a naturopath and I've been practicing as a naturopath now for around 15 years, I think it is this year, and basically see patients in my clinic and all of that goes into my triathlon habit.

Taryn Richardson  01:27
You told me that you have a work card that all the triathlon expenses go on, so he can't see where it's coming from.

Jody Walker  01:33
It's one of those deals that it's better that he doesn't know. He's aware. He has been a triathlete previously himself. So he's fully aware, but it's just best if he doesn't quite see how much goes into it I think.

Taryn Richardson  01:46
That's fine. Whatever. Doesn't matter. And whereabouts are you based?

Jody Walker  01:50
I'm based up in Mackay - so sunny North Queensland!

Taryn Richardson  01:54
Experiencing a really nice heatwave at the moment, too. Right?

Jody Walker  01:57
Well, I guess it's good heat acclimation for a late start for Mooloolaba Tri next week. But yeah, the heatwave is kind of killing us at the moment. Nothing, I guess, to what's going on down south, but it's warm, and it's humid.

Taryn Richardson  02:10
Hard to train in that. But you will get some good metabolic adaptations by pushing yourself through those hot sessions. So you might be flying in Mooloolaba when you get to cooler conditions! And do you train solo? Or do you train with a group?

Jody Walker  02:22
I train with a group. I train with the Tri-ActiV8 girls up here, and I've done so pretty much since I started around five years ago. I do quite a bit of training on my own as well. But I do love that group setting. I love coffee rides.  I love being able to get pushed as well through some of the training, doing squad swimming and things like that. So a bit of both, but I do love training with the girls.

Taryn Richardson  02:46
Alright, so you've got Mooloolaba coming up soon. What other crazy things have you got planned for yourself this year, Jody?

Jody Walker  02:51
Well, I have Ultra this year. So Ultra 355 that will be in August. That's kind of my big scary, hairy goal race. That one was actually meant to happen last February, but I came off my bike and broke myself. So back into it, I actually came off my bike only three weeks before the event. So I'd done all of the training and was ready and raring to go. So I know what I'm in for this time. And it scares me a little bit. But I'm looking forward to it. And I'm just hoping that this year, one of my big goals is to really get that nutrition nailed so I don't have any issues during the race.

Taryn Richardson  03:28
Good segue. So as a naturopath who eats well and trains hard, you know how to smash yourself. But you also have a really good healthy baseline diet. What made you actually want to see a dietitian and join the Triathlon Nutrition Academy in the first place?

Jody Walker  03:42
I guess for me, it started when I started more of the long course racing, particularly 70.3. And I just had race after race where I was experiencing this epic, upper gastric abomination that would happen every time I raced. And it didn't seem to matter what I did. I tried a million different products. I had the basis of what I should be doing and I thought I was trying everything that I could. And I would end up, every single race, in just epic agony.  And would just start vomiting and I could not keep anything down. And each race it would be at the same point it would be that same hour that the discomfort would start and then it would build and it just made the run horrendous. I would have to walk, I would have to stop at aid stations, I would need to know where the port-a-loos where so I could just get everything out of my gut. 

So after doing that for, I think, three races and realising that I needed to see someone who obviously specialised in this, and that's where I found you through obviously other triathletes that also use you and I've heard fabulous things. And I guess, from those one on ones I'd learnt so much that when the Academy came along, I thought “Well what a really great way to piece together all of this information, I'm getting in those ones on ones, and piece it together and layer it together to make a little more sense for me and to be able to get a better framework to work with”. I guess I see that with my patients, it's: you can only get a certain amount of info out in those ones on one consultations. So for me, it's getting that good basis, that good brick work, to work with, with the Academy, and then speaking to you to get those specifics and to get that gut training and everything underway.

Taryn Richardson  05:29
Yeah, nice. I've found that running the program, like, there is so much more detail you can go into about why we do things and a bit more about the science that you just don't have time for in one on one consults. One on one is, like, “Okay, this is what we're doing and why but here's your plan, okay. See you later”. Whereas in the academy, we’re really kind of deep diving into a lot of the science and the reasons around why we do the things that we do, so you have a really good understanding of what you need to do forever too - not just for right now.

Jody Walker  05:57
I guess it's learning about the periodisation as well. I was aware of the concept, but I wasn't really aware of how to implement that in my training schedule. So it's one of those things now that, you know, I've got those basic layers to develop my week to week with, you know - the nutrition before and what sessions I need to, you know, really optimise that recovery. And that's something that I don't think you can get in that one on one environment, that level of information. And that's probably the biggest thing I've learnt with the Academy - is just how to do it myself a little bit better.

Taryn Richardson  06:27
Yeah, you're a very healthy eater, which is amazing! That doesn't usually walk through my door, right? I have to get people to eat more fruits and vegetables because they don't eat enough. Whereas you were trying to maybe even scale that back a little bit - because your vegetable intake is, like, off the charts - to fit a bit of carbohydrate into your life so that you don't have, like, gut explosions. When you go and throw long course racing into that.

Jody Walker  06:52
Yeah, and that's the biggest thing I've learned from you is that the way I eat is probably, yeah, a little bit better than the general population, and the fibre content is that bit higher and it is very vegetable and fruit-based. But the way I was eating wasn't conducive to being able to fit in the level, or the amount, of carbohydrate that I needed. Because as you said, I was too full from that fibre. And that's probably one of the biggest thing - was simply scaling back that intake and having room and the appetite to be able to fit that easy fuel in for my body to both recover and then perform. That's probably the biggest key message that I've got so far.

Taryn Richardson  07:29
You just answered my next question.

Jody Walker  07:31
Oh, good. Look at me go.

Taryn Richardson  07:33
Look at you go. Well, I'll ask it to you anyway and we'll see if you have any different responses. So we're over halfway through the program now. We're in the Phase One: Fundamentals side of things. So we're looking really deeply into what we're doing with our day to day nutrition. And getting that right. What's the best thing you've learned so far?

Jody Walker  07:50
The best thing so far, aside from the fibre intake and having to reduce that, for me, it's all about that recovery nutrition. And it's something again, that I've always known how important it is, but you don't know how much you're under-doing it until you actually have to physically sit down, work out how much you're eating. And look at those grams of carbs per serving that you, kind of, give us and, kind of, go - “Oh, dear, I thought I was eating enough. I thought I was hitting that benchmark. I eat so much already but clearly, it wasn't enough”. And I still struggle with it. That's something I still struggle with - is my appetite gets suppressed the more I train, the more hours I do - my appetite drops out. And having that little printout on the fridge of the carbohydrate servings and having my plan up on the fridge with how much I've got to have and having that accountability, I'm like, “Okay, you just, you just, got to get it into you”. And when you do that, with the recovery nutrition, it makes a world of difference. I can't explain the difference it makes just to nail that component.

Taryn Richardson  08:53
And not something you did before, interestingly, so even one on one I'm like, this is your recovery nutrition perfectly mapped out for you. There's still some sort of block to “Okay, Taryn’s told me to do this, but I'm not going to do that. It's too many carbs”.

Jody Walker  09:08
And that's the thing, like, I'm not that person that's carb-phobic. I just don't eat as much, I guess. And I find it difficult to get it in there. And I got the message through the one on one and I did increase it - I definitely did. And I took on board all of what you said. But it wasn't until, I guess, you went through it again and really cemented it in and gave those ideas. And even, you know, the other athletes kind of popping their pictures up on the Facebook page and saying, you know, “Here's my recovery meal” and going “Oh, sweet. That's a really good idea. I could try that myself”. So it sunk in the first time, I must admit, but it's not until I got all of that beautiful information to put up on my fridge and it, like, hits me in the face every time I walk in the kitchen. It’s that accountability? Right? It's all about accountability.

Taryn Richardson  09:53
Yeah. And you mentioned, like, the community of other athletes at the same time point, going through the same challenges and getting to share your ideas with others.  I think I remember your image was perfectly balanced - you know - protein, lots and lots of veggies - but then your carbs were topped up with a hot cross bun to try and help you hit your targets.

Jody Walker  10:12
It's like the old Jody plate was there, you know, with the dark rye and the eggs and all the veggies. And then I had this side of the hot cross bun. And I giggled when I looked at it, and I thought it might give you a giggle as well. It's like, “Okay, I'm going to eat this extra thing. I'm going to do it because it's gonna make me feel better”.

Taryn Richardson  10:29
Funny. Anyway, you can get there, right? If that helps you to transition into adding some extra carbs on your plate, then I'm okay with that.

Jody Walker  10:37
Yeah, I hit the carb mark. But as you said, maybe still a little bit too many veggies there. So I'll pare it back.

Taryn Richardson  10:43
Funny. Go back to eating like that when you're not doing crazy ass training. That's totally fine. It's just that periodisation right? Having the ability to scale your intake up and down for training load, which is one of the things we really deep dive into inside the Academy program.

Jody Walker  10:57
Yeah, definitely. But like I find for myself is like, when is that point in time where I'm not doing that much training? Because I'm constantly signing up for things. It's like, “Oh, what race is next”? You know, I feel like I never have to pare back because it's always just full steam ahead, you know, but I love it.

Taryn Richardson  11:14
Now is there anything you've got out of the program that you weren't expecting to get out of it?

Jody Walker  11:18
I didn't know what to expect to get out of it from the start, because I had been seeing you one on one. For me, what I didn't expect to get out of it was probably a deeper level of that understanding. And I think going back to the best thing that I've got out of it as well, is having that accountability.  For me, the whole thing's been about accountability. And I didn't expect to get so much out of it. And I guess it's the way as well how that information is layered and structured every week. And you're building on that meal plan every week from, you know, pre-training nutrition, we layer on the next lot of post-training nutrition, and then we layer on that periodisation. That is the biggest thing. And that's the thing I probably didn't expect to get out so much - is to be able to do that so easily, without relying on you and saying, “Here's my training plan for the week. Tell me what I'm doing”. I can now do that myself, which is huge.

Taryn Richardson  12:09
You're more likely to do something too if you understand why. And you can think through your plan yourself. And then also more likely to translate that forevermore, because when your training plan changes, you know how to then adapt your nutrition plan to that, rather than having to come in for more consults to get a new plan. You can figure that out for yourself, which is pretty awesome.

Jody Walker  12:30
Yeah, honestly, it's absolute gold, that part of it. Then that's getting backed up with that accountability of having other people there to see what they're doing and bouncing ideas off of and also having, you know, those handouts that you can have on your fridge that you can look at every day. So you're not forgetting what you're meant to be doing. It's always there in front of you.

Taryn Richardson  12:48
It's like subliminal messaging. It's like even if it's in your peripheral vision, you know, it's there. And you're like, “Damn it - I've got to add more carbs to my breakfast plate today”.

Jody Walker  12:55
I've got to go get that damn hot cross bun out of the freezer and heat it up.

Taryn Richardson  12:59
You might need to stock your freezer, then when they go out of season.

Jody Walker  13:03
I know I don't know what I'm going to change to. So I'll have to go back to Nutella or doughnuts or something then.

Taryn Richardson  13:07
No, no, no, no no!

Jody Walker 13:08

Taryn Richardson 13:10
Do you have any advice, Jody, for someone that's thinking about joining the Academy program?

Jody Walker  13:16
Definitely. Only because I know so many of the girls, even up here with Tri-ActiV8, have contemplated joining and have been so close to the edge. And I think I said to you as well, I think this should be, like, a compulsory thing before you're allowed to do, particularly, any long course racing, I think you should have to do something like this first. Because in our huge training squad, that we have up here, I see that under-fuelling and it's unintentional. But you see so many people suffering and getting so fatigued and getting injuries and illness all the time. And I sit back and I think it's just such a basic thing, in nutrition, but it's something that is more important than the training itself. So for me, I, 100 percent would say that nearly every single person I train with could benefit from it. Every single person!

Taryn Richardson  14:07
Good pitch, mate. Loved it.

Jody Walker  14:08
I obviously have a little bit of that nutrition background with what I did with my health science degree. But it still doesn't mean I have any clue what I'm doing with sports nutrition - it's a whole other level. It's a whole other profession, and it's something that I even needed help with. And I'm glad that I got help with it.

Taryn Richardson  14:26
That's why I wanted you on the podcast because you are a naturopath who's actually gone to seek out sports nutrition advice. Like, your day to day eating is unreal. But it's that extra layer of knowledge for what we need to do for fuelling for performance and training for three disciplines that it's much more complicated than “Eat more fruits and vegetables”.

Jody Walker  14:45
Yep, it is totally different. And it's not something that any amount of Googling and reading would ever get you anywhere. Honestly, even with that professional background, you can Google what you want and you're not gonna learn anything that you need.

Taryn Richardson  14:57
Oh, and there's so much crap on the internet. It's one of the things I'm so passionate about is getting good information into more people's hands because there is a plethora of crap on the internet. And it's quite frustrating. I just feel like I'm banging my head against the brick wall constantly. And even you know, people inside the Academy are like, ”I've been researching this for ages”. And you can just go so deep. And I really just want to cut through all that. It's like, “Here's what we're doing. And here's why”. But you don't need to understand all the extra peripheral shiny object stuff that's going on. Like, “Here's what you need. Take it, run with it. This is what the research says is the best method”.

Jody Walker  15:33
Yep, that's I think the biggest thing that the Academy would get from someone like you is that we don't have to do the research, we don't have to understand the research. You know, most people aren't aware of how to read research and if it's good or bad. You've got someone there doing that for you. And putting it all together in a simple way. Because when you do, do that reading online, you're just reading opinion - you're reading 10 different people's opinion on the same thing, which is completely different. Whereas this is evidence-based. This is how it is. This is the simplification of something that could be complex, but isn't really and if you get it right can just completely change how you feel and train and race.

Taryn Richardson  16:11
Maybe we need to talk to Triathlon Australia and have it as a pre-curser to signing up to Ironman.

Jody Walker  16:19
I would wholeheartedly back that up! You just have to look around, even at races, and what people are doing and you kind of go “Whoa! that's not gonna go down well”.

Taryn Richardson  16:30
It's hard, isn't it? Because you can see the benefit of good nutrition, but people invest in that side of things last. Like, even if, in your profession, like you know, they go on to a whole heap of other stuff before seeking out nutrition support or naturopath. And, really, training intersected with the right nutrition, are what's going to give you the best bang for your buck. But everyone's straight into the one percenters and all these supplement random things and those recovery boot things and all that stuff that's just noise. But you just need to do a little bit of hard work in terms of training hard and getting your nutrition right to interconnect with that. I call that the sweet spot - like the supercharged zone where training and nutrition interconnect. That's when you've got things really dialled in, and you're going to get the best bang for your buck out of your body.

Jody Walker  17:12
Yep, that's perfectly put. And I remember I sure it was you that was saying it somewhere - it might have been on your website that, you know, we do, we pay all this money for these fast time trial bikes, for the recovery boots, for the newest supplement that's on the market that's meant to enhance recovery. But none of that means anything without a body that's going to work in your favour. I've come from a sporting background, I've always been in competitive sport, not always triathlon, that's new. Where I got that nutrition advice from a young age was my coach - and you can imagine what that was. And I look back now and I think how, you know, I was already okay at the things I was doing, but how much better could I have been with the right nutrition advice? Even way back then? I even had a sports psychologist. It was just part of the deal. At that level you had a sports psychologist, but not once did anyone recommend looking deeper at that nutrition?

Taryn Richardson  18:05
Crazy. You've heard it here first - join The Academy because it's cheaper than a new bike!

Jody Walker 18:08
It certainly is.

Taryn Richardson 18:11
Thank you so much for joining me today, Jody, and sharing your insights into what it's like on the inside from somebody that's already got a really good level of nutrition knowledge. So, thank you.

Jody Walker  18:22
You are very welcome. It's been a pleasure.

Taryn Richardson  26:56
Thanks for joining me for this episode of the Triathlon Nutrition Academy podcast. I would love to hear from you. If you have any questions or want to share with me what you've learned. Email me at [email protected]. You could also spread the word by leaving me a review and taking a screenshot of you listening to the show. Don't forget to tag me on social media at @dietitian.approved so I can give you a shout out too. If you want to learn more about what we do, head to dietitianapproved.com. And if you want to learn more about the Triathlon Nutrition Academy program, head to dietitianapproved.com/academy. Thanks for joining me and I look forward to helping you smash it in the fourth leg - nutrition!

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