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How Liz Blatchford Managed 120g of Carbohydrate Per hour on the Bike in Ironman

May 18, 2023

Liz Blatchford is one of the world's most successful triathletes of all time.

Blatchford’s 18 year racing career began in the ITU circuit in 2000 and transitioned to long course racing in 2012, winning her first Ironman at Cairns in 2013. Her career boasts victories in various 70.3 races, Ironman Cairns, and the Ironman World Championships in Kona. To top off an epic career, she was inducted into the Ironman Hall of Fame in 2022. 



Blatchford attributes her success in triathlon to her nutrition, gut training, and trust in the professionals around her. Her approach challenges the current trend in triathlon of carbohydrate restriction and emphasises the importance of individualised training and nutrition strategies.

Blatchford recalls working with her sports dietitian, Greg Cox, to dial up her carbohydrate intake to 2 grams per kilogram of body weight per hour on the bike, a level that Taryn notes is considered "way up there" for most athletes. Blatchford says that she didn't realise how unusual her fuelling strategy was at the time. 

She started with a plan that had her eating between 80 to 90 grams of carbs per hour, but when she felt hungry during her first Ironman, she grabbed bananas from the aid stations and gave the feedback to Coxy. They then increased her carb intake for the next Ironman, and dialled it up a couple more times until they landed at 2 grams of carbs per kilogram, per hour on the bike. A massive 120g of carbohydrate per hour.

She says that she never did metabolic testing to determine her carbohydrate and fat oxidation rates, but that she knew from comparing her food intake with her female training partners on similar training plans that she generally consumed more food than others. She believes that athletes need to consume a lot of food to fuel their performance. 



Blatchford relied on professionals, such as her coach and sports dietitian, to guide her nutrition. She never restricted her diet and had a high carbohydrate intake. Her coach also emphasised "training her gut" by getting used to consuming a large amount of carbohydrate during training, which helped her get comfortable with that level of fullness and perform better. Blatchford's success as an athlete speaks to the importance of individualised nutrition plans and the need to listen to your body when determining fuelling strategies.

She believes that every athlete has unique nutritional requirements, and it is essential to explore, test, and tweak their nutrition over time. Gut training, in particular, is crucial to improve digestion, absorption, and utilisation of fuel sources.

When asked if there is anything she would have done differently in her 18-year career as a professional triathlete, Blatchford reflected on the lack of data-driven processes in her training. When she started as a pro in 2001, technology was not as advanced as it is now, so data wasn't as important. Even during her Ironman career, she didn't use as much data as her athletes do these days. 



However, Blatchford knew her body very well and communicated her feedback to her coach, which allowed her to have an amazing career. Liz believes that being aware of one's body is important since things are not always as prescribed, especially for females due to hormones. Many athletes have a significant dependence on data and devices, which can be limiting if not balanced with self-awareness. She encourages her athletes, especially those who are pushing to go pro, to not rely entirely on devices and to get to know their bodies. 

Today, Liz balances parenting with coaching. She is excited to be back in the sport she loves, from the sideline these days and heading to races as a coach for both pros and age groupers.


To dive deeper, listen to the Triathlon Nutrition Academy Podcast, EP 94 - How Liz Blatchford Managed 120g Carbs Per Hour on the Bike in Ironman  

If you are interested in learning more about the Triathlon Nutrition Academy Program and what it can do for you, head HERE to join the waitlist for our next opening.


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