Episode 54 - 3 nutrition habits every triathlete should be doing daily

3 nutrition habits every triathlete should be doing daily

3 BIG ticket items that will make a huge difference to your training and racing as a triathlete. 

I’m not going to lie, there are so many things you should be doing to get the most out of your body when you train for 3 sports. It’s not as simple as train, eat, sleep, repeat. 

But, I’ve whittled the long list down to just 3 things you should be doing every.single.day. These are our triathlon nutrition foundations where you get the best bang for your buck.

Instead of chasing shiny objects and doing the one percenters first – you need to build a solid foundation for those more advanced strategies to even work.

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Episode Transcription

Episode 54: 3 nutrition habits every triathlete should be doing daily


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  00:44

Hello, and welcome to today's episode. I have been asked to pick three things that every triathlete needs to be doing on a day to day basis. And I thought, hang on, I'll record a podcast on this so that you can all hear it, too. But I found it so hard to pick just three. There are so many things that you should be doing when it comes to your nutrition to support training for three sports. But I narrowed it down to just three big ticket items that I think will make a huge difference to your career as a triathlete.

Taryn Richardson  01:19

So these are the fundamentals or the foundations of your triathlon nutrition. And I want you to focus on these three things first every single day, instead of chasing shiny objects and doing the one-percenters first. You know I'm big on building a solid nutrition pyramid. So building a solid foundation for everything to stick to before we build further up the pyramid and start dabbling in more advanced strategies and our one-percenters. I always talk about a nutrition cake. You need to build your sponge layer first, right? You can't start with sprinkles. There's nothing for them to stick to. So we need to work on our sponge, get those foundations laid. That's the biggest component as well. And then we need to ice it. That's taking our nutrition strategies further up the pyramid into more advanced things. And then, and only then, are we putting sprinkles on top so that they can stick to the icing that's stuck to the sponge. There's a method to the madness.

Taryn Richardson  02:29

Now, some of the foundations are not as sexy as taking a well-marketed and well-branded pill or potion that you spend some money on. And then you just passively take. You don't have to do any work necessarily. Just take this thing and remember to take it on a daily, weekly, whatever basis and cross fingers and hope for the best that it does something. Whereas focusing on the fundamentals, the daily habits, is going to take a bit of work. You have to actually do that to reap the rewards and get the benefits from it. 

Taryn Richardson  03:04

So let's go through my three daily habits. Number one, see if you can guess what it is, is definitely recovery nutrition. 95% of the athletes that I've seen over the years, do a terrible job of their recovery nutrition. It's delayed, it doesn't contain the right building blocks. And it isn't doing your training justice. So if you did nothing else, but just focused on ticking this off every single day, then you are going to be a better athlete long-term. And make sure you're not doing long-term damage to your body as well. If you're a growing body or a masters athlete, this becomes super important to make sure we're ticking the right boxes so that we're not doing long-term damage to our overall growth, our bone health, and our hormones.

Taryn Richardson  03:58

When there are a million things to focus on, put your blinkers on and just do this one thing well - every single day. Because once you've got that nailed, then you can move on to the next thing. And if you do a good job of your recovery nutrition, it sets your whole day up better. If you're somebody that suffers from 3:30-itis and just needs a nap in the afternoon, or you open the floodgates to eat lunch and then cannot close them again and then spend the whole afternoon having 'snaccidents' - then your recovery nutrition is something that you can change and adapt and tweak to fix that stuff that's happening later on in the day. So it's one of the key things that I think every triathlete should be doing on a day to day basis.

Taryn Richardson  04:47

Now more advanced strategies is having a different recovery plan for longer endurance sessions or those bigger volume days. Having a different recovery plan for our strength based sessions. Having a recovery plan for racing and also for our lighter aerobic offseason nutrition. So that's more advanced. But the foundations are making sure you tick off the right boxes for you because it is individual. I'm not going to tell you what they are in this medium because it is individual to you and your body and your needs. But getting that right is the fundamental of triathlon nutrition.

Taryn Richardson  05:25

If you are based in Brisbane, Australia or happy to travel, Huw and I are hosting a triathlon workshop where I'm going to deep dive into recovery nutrition for you. Come along, it's going to be so much fun. And I'm excited to meet some people in the flesh because COVID has been a massive dampener in our live, sort of, workshop plans. But it's time. So I'm going to dive into recovery nutrition and tell you specifically what you need to do for you. So you know how to do it, how much, when, and why it's so important. And then I'm going to practically show you how to do that with food.

Taryn Richardson  06:01

Huw Darnell is our resident exercise physiologist who specialises in strength training for triathletes. And he's going to show you how to build an unbreakable body. So you have the best triathlon performances yet, make sure you're not injured, and you're building a strong, resilient engine so that you can absorb all that training and absorb all that racing. Huw's also going to get a little bit theoretical and explain to you why it's so important and what we're looking for. And then we're going to get really practical and do some stuff in the gym. It's on September the 3rd, 1 - 4 o'clock in the afternoon, Brisbane time. It's not live streamed or anything like that. You have to be there in the flesh and it'll be at Perform 360, Coorparoo on the south side.

Taryn Richardson  06:45

Head to dietitianapproved.com/triathlonworkshop to check it out, register. We're going to have lucky door prizes, there's a free goodie bag with some stuff in there that we both really believe in, free infrared saunas, and it's just going to be so much fun. You're going to have massive FOMO if you're not there. So make sure you grab your ticket now. Spaces are limited. We can only fit a certain amount of bodies in the gym. So go to dietitianapproved.com/triathlonworkshop now and land yourself a ticket. It's 1 - 4 o'clock in the afternoon. So you've got time to do your sessions in the morning, go and get some good recovery nutrition. If you don't know how to do that yet, I'll teach you how to do it properly. And then come and play with us for the afternoon, and we'll have you home for an early dinner and bed. I'm excited. Actually, cannot wait for this day. It's going to be so much fun.

Taryn Richardson  07:36

All right, moving on to the second daily habit that I think is so important for you as an endurance athlete. Can you guess what this one might be? Okay, No.2 is to make sure you're eating enough fruit and vegetables. Now I know that's not very sexy but you actually have increased nutrient needs as an active person - more than a sedentary person. And the more colour we get and the more variety of things we have in our diet means we'll have a wider range of nutrients, too. And we need to meet those needs on a day to day basis. We should actually be aiming for 30 different plant-based foods in a week.

Taryn Richardson  08:15

Can you do a little bit of homework for me and tally up how many different plant-based foods you're having and see where you get to? 30 different plant-based foods - so it can be all of your fruits, all of your vegetables, legumes is in this group as well. So things like chickpeas, lentils, baked beans, nuts and seeds. Anything that comes from a plant. Nothing animal based. So do that activity and send me a DM on Instagram and tell me what you get to in a week. See what you get in a morning just before you start your day for breakfast, and then see where you go as the day builds. It's a really cool activity. See what you get on a day to day basis and then add that up for a total week.

Taryn Richardson  08:55

What I find with a lot of people is that they just stick with the same things all the time, like you go and do your fruit and veg shopping and you just get apples and bananas and then you stick with things like zucchini, capsicum. A good tip here, if you need to increase your plant-based variety, is instead of getting spinach leaves, get something that's like a four-leaf mix or something that's got the different colors and different types of leaves so you get a wider range of nutrients. Same as berries, instead of buying just blueberries or a bag of frozen blueberries, get the mixed berries and you get at least four or five different varieties for the same thing - it will really help you increase your number. Same as nuts and seeds. If you are like an almond person and you just buy almonds, next time I'd encourage you to go and get some mixed nuts or some mixed seeds or even make your own little jar in your pantry with a huge variety of different things. Because all of our nuts and seeds have different fat profiles and the more different types we have, the more different fats we include in our diet as well as the key nutrients that each of those seeds and nuts contain. 

Taryn Richardson  10:04

So on a daily basis, I want you to be having a huge variety of fruits and vegetables and plant based foods to get loads of nutrients into your diet. Because you need it. I don't want you taking a multivitamin supplement. Don't cop out on me. It's expensive. You basically just pee out all the water soluble vitamins anyway, if you've got enough. And my job as a dietitian is to get you to tick all the right boxes from the food that you put in your mouth, not by taking pills and potions. I have a very food-first philosophy. There's nothing that we can't fix with food. And a lot of triathletes or active people just focus on the macros, particularly if you're somebody that tracks calories and things. You might be tracking carbs, and proteins and fats, and all that sort of stuff. But we forget about the micronutrients. And they're so important. There's a few key ones that we need as endurance athletes like calcium and iron, are two off the top of my head. But there are so many other things as well. And I'd rather you get that from food. Get really good fibre from that as well, because that helps to keep our gut microbes happy. And there's so many benefits to that. 

Taryn Richardson  11:13

Too many to go into today. But nutrient-rich, getting enough fruits and vegetables and plant-based foods into our diet is so important. The only time you wouldn't need to focus on that on a day to day basis would be race day, or carb loading day is another time that you probably don't need to be ticking those targets. But your body has enough in reserve. If you've done a good job of keeping your vitamin and mineral stores up and they're not low, then you can weather a couple of days of not doing that. Think about early days in pregnancy where women can get really nauseous and vomit and just can't keep anything down, other than like dry crackers and toast and Vegemite and things like that. You can weather a period of time without the nutrients. We can still grow a body inside us without those nutrients as long as those tanks are filled up in the beginning.

Taryn Richardson  12:07

So don't worry if there's a couple of days where you're not getting enough. But that's not a long term strategy. You need to be ticking those boxes every day. I want it to become habitual. It's not very sexy, right? Eating fruits and vegetables, eating plant-based foods. Not a sexy message. It's not a shiny object. It's passive. You have to do the work, but it'll benefit you now in your triathlon career, and forever. Because that's my passion - to teach you to be healthy for the long-term, and to layer in the performance element of making sure you're doing the right things to support triathlon training. Alright, so don't skimp on those micros. Really, really important that they exist.

Taryn Richardson  12:49

Now my third daily habit, can you guess what this one might be? So we've got recovery nutrition, we've got lots of plant-based foods and a big push for those micronutrients and fibre on a day to day basis. And then the third thing that is really, really important for triathlon, this is triathlon specific, is having the knowledge and skills to scale your carbohydrate intake on a daily basis. Now this one is really hard. I'm not saying this is easy. I haven't met any triathlete that knows how to do this until they've had some education in this space. When you train for three sports and your training load and your training program is different on a day to day basis, then your food needs to evolve and change on a day to day basis, as well. It's called periodisation, where we're trying to periodise our food to our training program. 

Taryn Richardson  13:49

You know how your training program is periodised? It's your coach's job to do that. So that you get fitter heading into a key race. You recover in your offseason. You know that elusive offseason that we're meant to have? Yeah, they're designed to help you recover and adapt and have the energy and the drive to back up and push again in your next block build for your next race. So your training is periodised. You have rest days, you have hard days. We need to layer in food to that to help you maximize your performance and get the most out of your body.

Taryn Richardson  14:27

It's something I bang on about all the time. Triathlon Nutrition 101 is understanding how to periodise your food to your training. And carbohydrate is the main thing we need to focus on here. Inside the Academy and kind of teach you how to do that in a practical sense so it's not so difficult. So you know what to do on a light day, a moderate day, a hard day, but it's a daily thing that needs to become habitual, even. So that you don't have to think so hard about it all the time and you can naturally do that without it being hard.

Taryn Richardson  15:01

Scaling up carbohydrate can be challenging if you don't know strategically how to do that. Like, what types of foods are we looking for here? And then conversely, scaling that for a lighter day where you don't need as much fuel can also be challenging because if you get that wrong, you'll be starving because you've put yourself into too much of a hole, gone too hard. And that's not what we want either. Because if you're starving, you're less likely to make good food choices, and you're more likely to make not so good food choices. And if body fat loss is your goal, or you want to lean up a little bit for a race, we need to be really strategic around what we're doing on those lighter days, so that we can still drive a bit of fat loss without going too hard, but still recover from our training. 

Taryn Richardson  15:50

It's a tough one, but it's number three of my three daily habits because it's a big one. It is the difference between a good athlete and a not so good athlete. It's a difference between somebody that has energy at the end of the week, can push through long sessions, doesn't bonk or hit the wall, is their ideal body composition or close to it, and is not getting injured and sick all the time. It's a big one that you need to get your handle on. So that's why it's number three. 

Taryn Richardson  16:17

Okay, so there you have it. That was actually really hard to distill that down into three because if you've been listening for a while, you know that there's a lot to do when it comes to triathlon nutrition. But I think they're three things that would be really important to focus on. And if you have no idea what you're doing, then I'd suggest getting some support and coming and joining us inside the Triathlon Nutrition Academy. We are opening doors again soon, for the last time this year. They open on the 4th of September - only for a week - and then they're closing again until January 2023.

Taryn Richardson  16:54

So if you've been listening for a while, and you've been watching all the athletes inside the program, smash it, get PBs, having lightbulb moments around all the mistakes that they were making, but now have a clear plan for what they should be doing moving forwards. Come on inside, get amongst it, head to dietitianapproved.com/academy. And if you're not on the waitlist yet, add your name to the waitlist - right now. Go and do it now. Because I'm going to be sending out a very special bonus for those people on the waitlist. So you're gonna want to know what that is in a couple of weeks time.

Taryn Richardson  17:32

Okay, so your homework is to start to tally up the number of plant-based foods that you have on a daily, weekly basis, with a goal to get 30 different types. And use some of those tips around increasing the plant-based food variety that I gave you earlier to help with that if you need it. I don't want you taking a multivitamin supplement. You don't need it. You're going to pee a lot of it out. It's a waste of money. Let's do with food because there are so many different elements in food food that a pill can't give you. There are food chemicals that we don't even know about yet. And not to mention the gut loving fibre that is really, really important. A lot of our immune system, our immune cells, reside in the gut and we want to keep our gut microbes happy. If you don't want to fall into a heap heading into an event and get sick and rundown, then making sure you are topped up with all your micronutrients is really important.

Taryn Richardson  18:26

And if you suck at recovering nutrition, and you have no idea what you're doing and you are based in Brisbane, come along to our Triathlon Workshop. It's going to be so much fun. And if you're not based in Brisbane, then maybe look at the Triathlon Nutrition Academy as a way to get that knowledge from afar. Because it is the first masterclass that we do on day one of the program because I know how important it is when we're training for three different sports. Get this right and you will feel so much better. You'll have so much better spread of energy through the days, the weeks, you'll be building some strength and recovering properly, and refueling properly as well. That's so important when we have to back up and train again soon.

Taryn Richardson  19:11

So plenty of ways to get some support if you need it. Reach out if you have any questions. Send me a DM on Instagram. And you can also pick my brain inside the Dietitian Approved Crew Facebook group if you're not in there, too. I'll link that in the show notes if you're not a member. I do go live once a month for Coffee and Questions. It's on the first Thursday of the month at 8:30am Brisbane time. Alright, thanks for having me in your ear today. I will talk to you next week.

Taryn Richardson  19:40

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 can 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, @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 smashed in the fourth leg - nutrition! 

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