Episode 75 - Triathlon Diets NOT To Do This New Year and What You Should Be Doing Instead

Triathlon Diets NOT to do this New Year and What You Should Be Doing Instead

Is it just me or is there a whole lot more nutrition BS out there at the moment? Unqualified advice givers spruiking the latest fad diet, detox and quick fixes. Put down that juice cleanse and listen up! 

The New Year period often brings about lots of goal setting and ideas to improve your life. But instead of going guns blazing in January, only to crash and burn come February… let’s set 2023 up for success. 

Listen in for my practical tips on what NOT to do this year. And things you need to START doing if you want to actually achieve your health and fitness goals. Let’s stay on track in 2023 so you can create sustainable long-term change. We need to stop thinking about our health as a stop and start thing. Health is not time sensitive. 

As an endurance athlete, we need to play the long game!


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Episode Transcription

Episode 75: Triathlon Diets NOT To Do This New Year and What You Should Be Doing Instead

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.


Happy New Year and welcome to the first episode of 2023. I hope you had a really nice Christmas and New Year's break. I had a really great time just hanging out with my family. We hit the beach a lot. I read some books - that wasn't to do with sports nutrition - it wasn't papers. We sorted out our garden which is, you know, just the boring, adulting stuff that you have to do when you have a house. And relax as much as I could with a two year old and a three year old. And I'm so pumped for the year - I'm ready to hit the ground running. And we're gearing up to open the Triathlon Nutrition Academy doors on the 21st of January.


This is one of the best times to get your nutrition sorted - motivations that are high, maybe you've had a fairly debaucherous Christmas period and you're looking for something to, you know, help you out of your funk a little bit? Then make sure you go and check it out dietitianapproved.com/academy. There's only a couple of short weeks before we open the doors. They're only open for a week and then they close again. So you might be kicking yourself if you're getting to the end of January or February and thinking "Awh man, I should have done that . I should have started that already."


If you have no idea how you're going with your triathlon nutrition, I actually created a Triathlon Nutrition Calculator so that you could see how well you're doing. It's a quick little three minute quiz that you can take online, go to dietitianapproved.com/triathlonnutritioncalculator. I'll link that in the show notes too, if you don't remember that. But it's 50 steps to achieving triathlon nutrition mastery, or at least be well on your way to doing an excellent job with all the things you need to do with your nutrition. I'm not going to lie, there is a lot of things! Like, that is why the Triathlon Nutrition Academy is a three phase program. It's not like just training at the gym, or just doing running, there are so many things and pieces of the puzzles that we need to get right when we're training for three sports in a week.


So if you haven't done it yet, go and do that calculator and see how well you score. If you're upwards of like the 80 and the 90%, then you're not doing too bad. But if you're getting like 20, 30, 40, 50%, then there's definitely a lot of room for improvement, which I can help you with. It's an easy fix, I just need to teach you. And we do that inside the Triathlon Nutrition Academy. Now I know the New Year period often brings, for a lot of people, these New Year's resolutions. They set new goals and intentions for the year of all the things that they want to do better at compared to last year. It could be life things, it could be work things, it could be food and healthy things. Whatever it is - diet, exercise, healthy eating, working on projects that you've been putting off for eons - like our garden! It got completely neglected last year, but that's okay, we fixed it. Or maybe you want to build a boat or something!


In 2023, I'm going to put it out there - I really want to swim with the whale sharks, I've wanted to do that for many, many years. And 2023 is the year that I want that to happen. It's going to take a lot of logistics to get to Exmouth to do that, but I want to make 2023 the year that that happens. So stay tuned, you can hold me accountable to that one.


But we've all got something that we want to do. Whether you are a formalised New Year's resolution type person, or you just have this little thought in the back of your mind that there's something you want to achieve this year. What I want to do is set you up for success in 2023. I don't want you to go guns blazing, and feel like you've got to do all the things so that by the time we hit February, you're wrecked and you're done and you've given up! That's not really what we want to aim for. That's not going to help us achieve our goals. It doesn't do anything. It just means that you're super motivated for a couple of weeks, and then that's it.


So here are some things that we're NOT going to do this year. We are not going to go on a detox. You have kidneys and a liver that do an excellent job of detoxifying the body without needing to go on some weird detox where you cut out whole food groups or you go on a juice cleanse or you don't eat anything for days. 1. none of that's maintainable 2. none of that is healthy and 3. you don't need to detox so we are NOT going to go on a detox this year.


Despite what the Facebook ads are probably telling you at the moment, we're also not going to take meal replacement shakes to try and get our eating habits under control this month, after being completely debaucherous over the Christmas period. We're not going to sign up for some quick fix. instant gratification, transformation challenge that sets us up for failure, and only makes us feel worse for ourself afterwards.


We're also not going to cut carbs out like a crazy person this month to try and undo some of the damage that we caused in December. We're not going to do that as triathletes, because you need carbohydrate - it's your fuel. You just need to make peace with that and understand how to include it strategically, and how much you need for you based on training load, your body composition goals, your stage of life, all those sorts of things. But we're not going to do that are we? We're going to make peace and friends with carbohydrates. Because as an endurance athlete, they are our friends! We just need to know how to manage them.


Now I know that there are so many mixed messages coming at you at the moment. January, from an advertising perspective, is the highest revenue month of the year. Every company puts massive budget to advertising to get you into diets and transformations and detoxes and all those sorts of things. And there are so much information and noise out there right now, which is why this episode is hitting you here, NOW, to make you put your blinkers on. Let's focus and think about what's really important to us.


A lot of that information coming at you right now is from people that are unqualified to be giving it. If you dive a little bit deeper into products that are being advertised to you, you'll find that they're not developed or owned by a nutrition professional like a dietitian. They're typically a company that is just trying to, you know, make a buck. And that's totally fine. Everyone's got to make a buck. But please be careful where you're getting your nutrition messages from at this time of the year where it is very, very noisy. Its noisy generally. But January is a huge month for health and wellness and detox type things, so just keep your wits about you.


What I want you to do to set your 2023 up for success right now is to think about creating sustainable change. We always do this all or none type thing. We need to stop thinking about health, and our long term health, as a stop start thing that we can pick up and put down willy nilly when we want to. We need to get off this yo yo dieting bandwagon and just be normal! Small, little consistent actions are what is going to have the biggest impact to you long term. Your health is not a time sensitive thing. We can't be healthy tomorrow. It is something that takes time and consistency, to improve our health or to maintain our health.


And so often at this time of year, we want to be healthy, we want to start our year well. We're maybe feeling a ugh after Christmas. And that's okay. But let's not go guns blazing, and do something unmaintainable/unsustainable because we are feeling so ugh and we want to be healthy, when there are other simpler, easier things that we can do to set ourself up for success and not failure. If it's too hard, or too weird - like you might be cutting out whole foods groups - like cutting out carbohydrate, you might be putting yourself on a really strict calorie deficit. It's not sustainable, it's not maintainable. And you're probably suffering through it for a short period of time. And it's also not going to make you happy either. And then you come off whatever that restriction severe diet change is and, typically, we rebound - we go back to that level that we were before. And then some.


So want you to be mindful of anything that promotes you to cut out whole food groups, or cut out carbohydrates or put yourself on a severe calorie deficit and throw all of that in the rubbish. What I want you to do instead is stop for a second and reflect about the things you want to do a little bit differently or a little bit better compared to last year. It doesn't have to be a complete overhaul. It could just be one thing that you're going to improve on this year. It might be fuelling better on the bike. It might be "I'm going to get way better at my carbohydrate loading and doing this properly and understanding what I need to do for me". It might be dialing in your 70.3 race nutrition plan and practicing that multiple times a year. Have you noticed that nothing that I've said yet involves cutting carbs or going on a diet or a calorie deficit?


We need to think about long term change and small, incremental steps because that is going to be much more achievable for you. It's going to be much more fun instead of making yourself miserable. And it's more likely to have a bigger impact on your life over the long term. It's those small little things that you can do daily, that compound over time - the compound effect. It's like shares - nutrition is the same - a little bit of work consistently on a day to day basis is going to reap the rewards later on in retirement, or maybe before, maybe not that long, but you get the gist, it's a long term thing. Your health is not time sensitive, it's not unhealthy or not healthy. We're talking big picture here.


There are a bunch of things that I don't want you to do. But the things that I DO want you to do - focus on the fundamentals of eating well, on a day to day basis. We're going to cover some of these things in the online Triathlon Nutrition Training Camp that I'm running in a couple of weeks. But we need to think about eating enough fruits and vegetables. I know that's not very sexy, and you're like "Doh, Taryn", but honestly, six to 10% of the population in the world eat enough fruits and vegetables on a day to day basis. Which is just insane. We know that we need these things in our life - they're good for us. And yet, we still don't do it. So that's one thing I want you to focus on.


I also want you to think about where those things are coming from. Do you have lots of colours in your life? Or are you just an apples and bananas type person on repeat every single week? If you are doing a good job, here, you are getting a huge range of vitamins and minerals, all of our phytochemicals and fibre - stuff that is really good for our health long term. A lot of our immune system resides in the gut - about 70%. And so we need to look after our little gut microbes to keep them happy to make sure we're not getting sick and rundown all the time. We know that our gut is linked to our brain via the gut brain axis. And so if you can keep your gut microbes happy, you're more likely to be happier as well.


So if you want to learn how to do those sorts of things - like how much we need, some strategies to actually implement that into your diet, then you might want to come along to my online Tri Camp. We kick off on the 23rd of January, Australian time (so it'll be the 22nd if you're in North America, or that side of the world) and it runs for three days. So it's a perfect, kind of, kickstart to your 2023 nutrition and health journey without doing anything weird and wonderful, and going on a detox or a crazy arse diet that is not maintainable and makes you miserable anyway.


So over those three days, you've got 3 x one hour sessions with me, where I'm going to fast track your triathlon nutrition success, and really just help you lay some of these foundations. So on Day One, we're going to warm up with some of those simple daily habits that I know that you need. Every triathlete should be doing these if you want to perform well, and also improve your long term health. On Day Two, I'm going to help you with some simple strategies to become a bit of a kitchen and organisational ninja. I know that healthy eating is not difficult but it does take a little bit of planning and organisation to fit it into your time poor life.


When you have to potentially, you know, work/hold down a job, maybe you've got family commitments, and you have to train for three sports in a week, not one (you overachiever, you), then time is limited. So how do I fast track you through this to make your year successful right from the get go, but make it easy? Like this is my jam. I'm an organisational ninja. I'm a black belt when it comes to this side of things. So I'm going to fast track you through that and make that whole process easy.


On the third day, we're going to cool down with some of my tips for how to drop body fat and lean up. But not doing anything weird - no diets, no detoxes and still maintain the energy that you need to support triathlon training. That's the hard balance. We can go on a diet - drop weight really quickly, but we can't train. And so it's a really delicate balance to get that right - to achieve your body composition goals, but still be able to perform in your session. So that's what we're going to do over those three days.


So you get me, live, for an hour every day to cover those things. And then I'm also going to jump on live every day later on in the day where you get a Q & A session with me  - where you can ask me anything. Pick my brain. Happy to talk to anything. But it's another chance to, sort of, cement your learnings and get some help with what you're stuck with now. So if you want to set your year up on the right foot, go to dietitianapproved.com/camp. It's $47 if you're in Australia, USD$35. It's not expensive, and a great place to meet other triathletes from all around the world who are starting to think about this for themselves too.


It doesn't matter if you can't make a session live because it's all recorded, you can catch up at a time that best suits you. But it's going to be a lot of fun. The last time I ran this in September, we had a wild time. It was way more fun than I expected it to be. So if you want to learn about nutrition in a fun and entertaining way, then come and register for camp - dietitianapproved.com/camp.


Wherever you're at with thinking about New Year's resolutions and setting some goals and intentions for the year, I want you to think with your dietitian hat on what would Taryn think when it comes to what you've set out to achieve for the year? Have you set SMART goals for yourself? Are they specific? Are they measurable? Are they actionable? Are they realistic, is the other thing. So often, we want to achieve massive things in a short period of time. Like, we want to lose 10 kilos yesterday. But really, we want to set ourself up with small little changes that we know that we can achieve or close to achieve, because then you're going to feel way more successful if you've done that rather than set yourself up for failure.


And then T stands for timely. So put a time to it. I want to achieve this by this time. But make it specific. It could be around doing your very first sprint race It could be doing your first 70.3 distance. It could be making sure you eat enough fruit and vegetables every single day. It could be implementing strength training into your programming this year, because you haven't had the opportunity or the capacity to do it in the past. Whatever it is, I'm not going to set goals for you. I told you mine - swim with the whale sharks. But let's think about our health and what we're doing for this year. In the long term, it's going to take time to maybe tweak and change some of the habits that you've developed over your entire life.


But all you have to do is start! Start small, feel success - when you can achieve that small little thing on the daily basis. Because that's where the magic happens. And promise me you will not go on and detox. You're not going to replace all of your meals with shakes because you ate so much over Christmas. You're not going to cut carbohydrate out because you think that's the answer to your problems. Let me tell you it's not! It's going to create more problems. You're at a huge risk of under fuelling this month, for all of January, as you try and shift the balance back into ‘healthy’ after a potentially debaucherous Christmas/New Year. So be very mindful of that. You can't undo that damage by under fuelling through this month. You're going to end up exhausted, potentially sick, potentially injured. And it's unsustainable. It's not actually fixing what the issue is. So promise me, you're not going to do any of those things.


What you're going to do is think about some smart goals for your year - write them down. But whatever it is, think about, can it even be halved? Can we go smaller? Can we think about really small, incremental steps? Break it down even further, and then see if you can maintain that beyond January, into February, into March, into April, because then you'll feel successful. And that is going to have a much bigger impact on your performance and your long term health.


Don't stress too much about what the scales are saying right now. Remember that your health is not linked to the number on the scales. They're two completely separate things. You can be heavier than what you think is ideal, and still be healthy. And conversely, you can be really, really skinny and even potentially undernourished and not healthy. Our health is not linked to our weight, our body composition and a number on a scale. So maybe put them away for the next month or two. Unless you're doing some DIY hydration testing, that's okay. But maybe put them away for all of January so that you're not tempted to sidetrack yourself and sabotage yourself by jumping on them all the time.


Think of the Christmas/New Year period as maybe a bit of carb loading. And so you might want to go and do some good long, hard sessions to use that glycogen up. You've just done carb loading practice, maybe not the best carb loading practice, but hey, a step in that direction. So there you have it, potentially not the episode you thought you were going to get from me today, but I want to challenge you to think a little bit differently. Head down, bum up. Focus on you and what you need to achieve. Don't do anything weird!


Taryn Richardson  19:42

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 www.dietitianapproved.com/academy. Thanks for joining me and I look forward to helping you smashed in the fourth leg - nutrition!


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