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8 Key Ingredients To Becoming A SuperCharged Triathlete

Sep 02, 2021

Coffee & Questions ☕️ 2nd September 2021

8 Key Ingredients To Becoming A SuperCharged Triathlete

1. Pre-Training Nutrition
2. Recovery nutrition
3. Periodisation
4. Run fuel
5. Ride fuel
6. Carb-Loading
7. Hydration
8. Supplements

Dial each of these nutrition components in and you’ve nailed a solid foundation as an athlete.


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Good morning and welcome to coffee and questions! I am live on Facebook over here, in case you see me looking from different places and Instagram over here. So hopefully you can hear me. I've got my headphones in. Yep! Alright, cool. So this morning, I wanted to introduce to you something I've cooked up. Good morning Bec Baird and Tesla and Nick. Yeah, something I've cooked up which I'm pretty excited about. And you'll hear more about it over the coming weeks as the Triathlon Nutrition Academy program opens up for the first time ever.


But I guess over the years, I've really seen the same kind of problems and mistakes athletes are making within nutrition. And there's 8, well there's way more but there's at least 8 key elements to that, that I think are really important to get right. And I wanted to talk you through what they are today. I'm excited to kind of share this with you for the first time. And like I said, you will be hearing more about it over the coming weeks as the Triathlon Nutrition Academy program opens. But I'm too excited to wait to share it. So I wanted to kind of talk through some things and if there's any questions you've got as I go, please just type them into the chatbox and let me know. We’ve got heaps of people on the Gram. Good morning! We've got Lauren and Andy Moran and Penny, how are you? And see show blue is also here.


Alright, I guess this kind of came from working with athletes over the last like 13 plus years the same things kind of keep coming up that people aren't doing correctly. And you know, like, that's fine. You don't know what you don't know. Until you've seen a sports dietitian, then these some things that you're just not going to have any idea about. But I wanted to run you through what I think are some of the really good bang for your buck kind of elements around sports nutrition that I think every athlete needs to know about. The dogs are wrestling again. They must know that I'm going live and they've got “Yep, we're going to wrestle and annoy mum.” Hopefully, you can't hear that too badly. “Peachy? Koda? Dog mum, dog mum.” If it's not little people, it is the dogs being menaces.


So I guess yeah, it this is very common for people not had any idea how to do this. And you know, talking to Lauren the other day in clinic, she's been listening to the podcast. And she, we've been going through lots of these foundational things to try and get her nutrition sorted. And she's listening going, “Yep, I used to do that. Oh, yep, I used to do that as well. But now I don't do that because I've had a bit of education.” And it's not something that you like mentioned really unless you go and seek advice from a professional. Good morning, Nick! Working hard as always.


A common thing that I'm seeing. And I do feel like I repeat myself a lot. I go through a lot of these things with everyone and try and do it a bit systematically too so that you can kind of build your education with nutrition. And I talk about building a solid foundation like building that cake base layer, the sponge first before we start implementing more technical sports nutrition things which would be the icing on your cake. And then only then, once you've got those two foundational layers nailed that we start putting some sprinkles on the icing which is quite sort of advanced sports nutrition principles and supplements and things like that.


So stuff that we might be doing in the elite space, where they've got those foundational layers now at first, but certainly not in an age group population. But I tend to see athletes flip that and try and do things the opposite way. Like even at the gym this morning. One of the guys that I was training with was like, “Oh, you're a sports dietitian. What's a good supplement for sleep and energy?” And I'm like, “Uhhhh, like 1, like, just sleep and 2. Why you’re looking for a supplement? Why don't you take a look at your day-to-day diet?” Like you're obviously here exercising which is good but maybe you're not doing a good job with your fuelling and recovery. I don't know. But most people want like the magic bullet, right? You want a quick fix. You just want to take a pill because it's passive and you don't have to do the work. But you will get better bang from your life feedback out of what you do with your day-to-day diet.


Nicholas said, “Always working hard.” Good morning, Chells. Good morning, Jake. And good morning dream cyclery. Where are you coming from dream cyclery? Alright, I think that these are the foundational layers. And so what I've planned in Triathlon Nutrition Academy program is we're going to do these foundational layers. We're going to build on that before going up a level so you one is the foundational stuff and then you two is getting more advanced. And I think every athlete needs to do this. You know, I feel like I just repeat myself all the time. And it's something I go through with everyone. So the 8 key elements of things that I think everyone needs to nail.


The one-on-one space for me is so time limited. I've got absolutely no time left anymore. I'm booked out for weeks. And I just don't have any more time to give really. So this is one way for me to get proper nutrition information into more people's hands. I'm so excited for that. So you’ll hear more about that program soon. But the 8 key elements that I want to talk you through today to become a supercharged triathlete or any athlete really, I guess I work heavily in triathlon. But any athlete that wants to do better, should be nailing some of these foundations. And let me just stop there for a second and say, I talk about athletes all the time. But I'm talking about you the everyday athlete, you don't have to be elite, to be called an elite like to be called an athlete. Like if you exercise on purpose, like if you move you move your body on purpose, then you're an athlete in my mind. So you're an everyday athlete but you're still an athlete. And that's one of the things that comes up for people a lot is they say, but I'm like, I'm not elite, can I still come and see you? And I’m like, “Duh! Of course, you can!” Because I often use that term athlete a lot. And you may not consider yourself as an athlete, but it doesn't matter. You're an everyday athlete when you try to perform well in life. And to me that's athlete enough. Good morning, Kira.


Alright! So the 8 key elements, I'm going to share this post later so that you can sort of see it visually, I'm really visual person but I'm going to put the post up a bit later today or tomorrow or you know, some at some point.


So the 8 key things I'm going to run you through them quickly.


  1. Pre-Training Nutrition
    So number one would be doing a really good job of your recovery, think that's super important. And also what you do for your pre-training nutrition. Both of those two things are something that I go through relatively quickly with an athlete because that's like what you do with your nutrition around training is where you're going to get the most benefit.

    So you can kind of have a plan for what to do for both of those things. I think that's really important. And we don't want to be eating the same thing all the time for our pre-training nutrition unless you go to the gym and you lift weights 5 days a week or you just you know, do the same sort of training.

Triathletes don't do the same sort of training every day. We train for 3 disciplines. We've got a swim, we've got a bike, we've got a run. Now some of us do strength as well. And you know, what you do for certain types of sessions needs to be different because your training is not the same. So it really depends on what the session is, how long it is, what your overall goals are, and like where you are in a season.

So I had done a podcast episode on pre-training, like fuelling. So go and have a listen to that for some more detail.


  1. Recovery Nutrition
    And the other one is recovery. So that I have done a podcast episode on recovery as well just to give you some of the basic fundamentals of what you need to do there. So that you're taking the right boxes in that recovery window for you. And it's highly individual, you can't, like eat what the person next to you eats. It needs to be really specific to you because it's based on size and it's based on your type of training and how much glycogen you've used and what your overall plan across the week is and then also where you are in the season. So there's times that you want to be aggressive with your recovery and there's times we maybe don't necessarily need to be aggressive. So it's getting an understanding of when it's really important to be aggressive and when it doesn't matter if you're aggressive or not.

So there are two really big ticket items that I think every triathlete needs to nail. If you haven't got a plan for that, then you need one. Like if you're sitting there or listening to this and you haven't got a plan for recovery and pre-training, then they are two of the biggest things that you need to organise to get the most out of your training and become a supercharged triathlete.


Lauren says, “Since implementing pre-training nutrition, my output has increased massively.” Yes! 100%! So you're obviously going to be able to train better sometimes if you're feeling things, and you were going to recover better and faster to if you're doing a good job of your recovery. So good job, Lauren! A lot of athletes either just don't eat at all before training or eat the same thing which you know, can be okay. But there's some sort of key elements and ingredients to what your pre-training nutrition should look like. Alright, so they're the two main ones.


  1. Periodisation
    And then the next one, I think that people need to get a handle on and something I go through with every triathlete is a concept of periodisation and I bang on about it all the time. I talk about all the time that you shouldn't eat the same thing every day because you train for three disciplines. Your training is not the same every single day. Day, you might have just a like easy run or recovery swim one day versus a massive like 4-hour ride with a runoff the bike. Like you need to fuel and eat differently for those two days, the same as if you have a really hard intense say, track run or something in the morning and then you've got a hard squat squad swim in the evening. Like those types of days are totally different to lighter aerobic recovery type day.

    So their concept of periodisation encompasses a whole range of things. But this the basics of it as that every day, your nutrition should be periodised to training. Among like other things, you know, you can periodise supplements, you can periodised your training, all those sorts of things. So as a triathlete, I'm not talking about other sports here, I'm talking about triathlon specifically. You need to have that periodisation approach across your whole week, across the month across the season. So that's something I like to teach people because I think that's really important. People get stuck in the rut of just eating the same thing constantly. And not knowing how to scale up when it's important and scale back when you need to as well. And that's important for you Lauren and that's what we're working her at the moment on trying to get that sense of scalability. Sort of sorry to pick on you there, Lauren. But you know, this is where you're at right now. So I think that's important.
  2. Run fuel
    Alright, then we've got what you do on the run. I think that's another really key element to your nutrition as a triathlete. So that's number 4. So we've got recovery, pre-training, periodisation and run nutrition. Again, something I go through with every one of my athletes is what they're doing on their runs and getting an understanding of like what's actually needed based on the type of run it is.

    So you want to feel differently for like an easy aerobic like recovery run versus a hard intense interval type session. So whether it's a track session or you're going to do some fat like intervals or hills or something like that, that is different. And then layer that into when you're building towards races you're doing long runs as well. And that obviously depends on what type of race you're doing, like your long run for a sprint and Olympic distance event is an hour, possibly, maybe a touch longer, compared to an Ironman you're running for like up to building up to 3 to 3 ½ hours for an Ironman event.

    So you're fuelling on those long run days needs to be totally different depending on how long you're going for and what race you're prepping for too. So I think that's one of the other really key ingredients to making sure your nutrition is dialled in as a triathlete.
  3. Ride fuel
    The next one, so we're up to 5, is ride nutrition. Again, something that people get completely wrong. But it's a really easy fix if you have some education and a plan. And you can start to understand like what you need. I think that's really important. I like to teach my athletes to be independent with that so that they can start to explore products and find things that really work for them and can adapt their plan on the fly as well.

    So if you drop something or you didn't have access to nutrition for a while because you've got lost or something or I don't know, you went to the shops and they didn't have what you needed or whatever. You know what amount of fuel is in products and so you can easily kind of calculate and adapt your plan in your head.

    They can also kind of wile away the time to if you sit as sitting on the wind trainer for two, three hours bored, or going for a long solo ride, it can just be something else to think about. And then you're independent with your race nutrition planning as well. So you like if something happens on the day, you can kind of adapt to that. So I use the example of one of my Ironman athletes many years ago. He had his perfect dialled in plan. He had his perfect dialled plan and he wanted to eat things like BBQ shakes on a bike because that was his favourite and he trained on it. And he was well practice and that's like it's super salty and savoury whatever, it's exactly what he wanted to do. And then he got his front tooth kicked out in the swim, which is horrible.

    Most people would pull out, he didn't he kept going. But he couldn't eat any of his nutrition on the bike because he couldn't chew it. So he had to adapt his plan on the fly, but because I taught him how to do that, he was fine doing that. And that may have been one of the reasons why he did keep going with his race because he knew that he could keep fuelling through the bike even though his whole plan got flipped on the head. So yeah, I like to teach people to be independent and gain some knowledge because otherwise, you're kind of reliant on someone to tell you what to do constantly which can be fine. Like a lot of triathletes, like we like to just be told what to do, like, give me a plan and I'll follow it, right? That's why training peaks does so well. Because you have your plan there. And it's all laid out perfectly. And you do it and it goes green. Like how good is that for positive feedback? And like a good feedback loop is that your whole week goes green if you've done something.

    So nutrition can be part of that. And you can layer that into your whole plan as well. But if you can actually build some knowledge around what you need and why, then you're more likely to have good longevity in the sport because over the years, you can build your nutrition to suit whatever you're doing.
  4. Carb-Loading
    The other concept that's really important for triathletes, for anyone doing Olympic distance races and above, is carbohydrate loading. Now I have not met, I've literally not met one athlete that knows how to carb load properly, until they've seen a sports dietitian.

    So carbohydrate loading means we are super compensating up our muscle glycogen stores. So think of those as like the fuel tank in your car, you want to put as much fuel into your engine as possible before race. And that means that you're more likely to be able to go harder for longer before hitting that point of fatigue. It so it doesn't make you go faster like per minute; it doesn't increase your speed. But it delays your onset of fatigue and that can therefore overall make your time faster, because you're not hitting a wall feeling flat earlier, it can extend that a bit further so that you've got that energy towards the back end of your event.

    So I would carb load for anything that's Olympic distance or above. Anything that sort of two hours plus. And it is a systematic increase in carbohydrate that is quite difficult. It's not actually that easy to do. When you've got to have the knowledge of how much carbohydrate you need to carbohydrate load, and it depends how much muscle tissue you've got. But then also the types of foods to choose to carbohydrate load effectively without making it so hard.

    Most people think that carb loading is just eating a bowl of spaghetti the night before your race and that is definitely not carbohydrate loading. Like you might be able to eat maybe 100g of carbohydrate in a massive bowl of spaghetti maybe with some garlic bread on the side or something like that. But that is nowhere near the amounts that you need to actually effectively carbohydrate load. So again, one of the other kind of key ingredients to actually being a supercharged triathlete is getting that part right.


So I think we're up to 6. So recovery, pre-training, periodisation, run fuel, ride fuel and carb-loading. Though, those are really key ingredients to being a good athlete. And remember, we're talking about everyday athletes here. Good morning, Rache and good morning, Johnny O Leary! Alright, the next one, the last two are things that I'll go through with clients as well. And I think they're really important.

  1. Hydration
    And that is hydration. Having an understanding of what your hydration needs are and being able to hydrate and rehydrate effectively based on that and across the season. So your sweat rate is highly individual. People sweat anywhere from like 500mils an hour, all the way up to like 3 ½ litres an hour. So it's a huge range. And like most people know if they're heavy sweater, if you finish the session and you're close, I just like, drenched like sopping wet, like you can wring them out, you need to take your shirt off to drive home or sit on a towel or something like that. Chances are, you're a pretty heavy sweater.

    But what people don't have an understanding for is how salty they sweat. And it's not something that you can kind of guess you really need to do a sweat test with somebody that does sweat tests properly. Like bit of a side note, I've been hearing about a company that's doing a sweat test where they put a patch on you and then you just sit there, and the patch heats up and then they tell you what your sweat sodium concentration is.

    I have not seen that science. But that doesn't make a lot of sense to me because you're not exercising so you haven't got that increased heart rate. You haven't got that increased blood flow which so I wouldn't have said that that is translatable to what you then sweat in exercise situation. So just be careful that you do understand how sweat test works, and that you're doing it properly and then it's nice and controlled.

    So I think it's really important for every athlete to know what their sweat like. Even if you do some rough sort of estimates yourself, I usually equip people with the skills to go and do a few checks themselves. Because I think it's important to understand what your sweat like in summer, when it's super hot and super humid here, versus a winter month where it's much cooler, you're not going to sweat as much. And you're also going to sweat differently on the run and sweat differently on the bike. You don't really need to do sweat testing in the pool. Because we really don't sweat that much in the pool. Even a hot pool and a hot day. Like you're only sweating like mills, maybe 100mils. So it's no when the like the multiple litres that some people can sweat while they're running. So I think that's really important to understand that.

    Because if you are dehydrated, your performance gets affected. And in the literature, it's around 2% body weight, but it depends on who you are and what your event is and a few other factors. But you could percent potentially dehydrate a little bit further without being affected. But that is assuming also that your turn up well hydrated. The number of athletes that I see turn up to sweat testing already dehydrated. That boggles my mind. Well, it doesn't boggle my mind because that's why they're there right to get an understanding of that. But they're already turning up dehydrated. And so therefore that 2% rule is kind of out the window because they're not at 0% to start with it already negative and so they're dehydrating further.

    So performance is affected around where 2% of dehydration occurs of total body weight. And so you want to get a handle on what your sweat rate is and understand that so that you're not going to the point where performance is affected in your events. So that means that you might need to drink a certain amount before or during to keep pace with that. If you're a 3L an hour sweater, then there's like unlikely that you'll ever keep pace with that. So I'd suggest you do shorter compared to super long stuff. So one of my I think my record would be Hamo. I don't know if he's watching here on Facebook. There's a few people on Facebook that I can't see who you are, but you’re there.

    He sweats like 3 ½ litres an hour. And so there is no way that I would recommend Hamo do an Ironman because he can't drink that much. And he physically can't drink that much like I don't know, like what the maximum is that you've told like he's tolerated an hour. But you know, maybe you could drink a litre now or later and a half an hour, but could you keep up with that for a whole marathon? Probably not. You're not going to absorb it, you're going to end up sloshing around in your tummy.

    So I think it's important to know how you sweat so that you can then make sure you're replacing what you need to in your event with so that performance is not affected by dehydration.


Phew! Alright. We're going to we're going deep here. So there's a couple more people on Insta, good morning!

  1. Supplements
    And the last one, the last one, I think that's really important. And it's something that I will do last is having an understanding of some supplements that can be useful. But remember that when we're talking about our nutritional pyramid or our cake, supplements see up the top here in the very top tier, or they're sprinkles on the cake. So there's something that you can look at once you've got all of those other seven components dialled in first, but a supplement really is like if we're talking about supplements like a gel is actually a supplement, it's a supplement to the diet, it's not a food. So you can put those into this component as well gels and sports drinks and sports products. They are a supplement. So I guess making sure that what you're using there is stuff that works for you. And it's a good quality product and it's not too expensive. It's made up of the right things and etc, etc.

    Johnny said, “Did someone say cake?” Maybe you weren't here in the beginning Johnny, but we were talking about the nutritional foundations of a cake. The sponge being the foundations, the icing being the next set of sports nutrition principles and then the sprinkles being the one percenter. We're not talking about literal cake. But I love your enthusiasm for cake Johnny. So yeah, those guys kind of feed into the supplement group. And then there's things like iron and calcium, like making sure that you're getting enough of those two things. And if not, then a supplement might be useful there. Other things like protein powder, that also counts as a supplement and that can be useful. But it is a supplement to the diet. It's not something that should form the foundation of your diet. It can be supplemental and useful as a convenient option to bump up your protein intake or use the timing of that strategically. But there are plenty of ways to get enough protein in just in your day-to-day diet.


Alright, cool. That was a lot in a short period of time. So if there's any questions, please type them in and let me know. But that is the 8 key elements that I think are super important for every triathlete to get a handle of having a plan for and understand exactly like why you're doing certain things. Because if you're ticking off those 8 key things, then you're on the path to being a really good athlete. Like you've got really good foundations now with your nutrition. And you're going to start performing better. Like I so often see people just falling into a heap at the end of the week, or even in the afternoon, like just feeling like you need a nap to get through the rest of the day. But maybe you're at work and you can't have a nap. So you kind of send out your hunger hormones or you crave sweet. So you kind of go and read the cookie jar there or go and buy a chocolate or whatever it is to try and give you that pep up. Because you need some more energy to get through the day. That's really common thing for people to experience if their nutrition is not right for them.


And I guess the other big thing that people suffer through is not having the energy to perform in like hard or long training sessions. You know, like being able to push through the back end of hard one set to not be failing, and like just hanging on for dear life and wishing it to be over. Like imagine how good it would feel to have energy through that back end of that run session.


Because that back end is like, that's the sweet spot, right? That's where you start to get good metabolic gains, by being able to push through that back end. That's where you go and get fitter and drive those adaptations to become faster. And that's why you do that trading session anyway. And so you want to have the energy to be able to push through that back end of a session like that. So you can actually become a better athlete. And nutrition is a key component of that by giving you enough fuel, but also making sure your tummy is comfortable and you're not going to you know, vomit in that sort of session or need to run to the toilet or something like that.


And then and I guess like that's a hard session, but a long session as well. Sorry to pick on you again, Lauren, but Lauren just did a training camp for her tri squad. As she heads into Sunny Coast next weekend, and she's never fuelled those long sessions properly, she's just hanging on for dear life. And this time she carb-loaded. And we practice that and then she fuelled those sessions way better than she is ever fuelled training before. And she was like, so overwhelmed by how awesome to have energy in the back end of those rides and not be like just wanting to scrape yourself off the bitumen or get a coke from the service station to get yourself home or a Slurpee or something like that. Like to have energy to push through those sessions and feel like you can keep going. Like that's what you want out of a training session. You don't want to be falling in a heap afterwards and spend the whole rest of the day having a nap or lying on the couch or just being dusted. You know, like that's it you do the session. And then that's it that you can't physically do anything else for the rest of the day.


If you're single, you know, whatever, you can lie in bed and watch Netflix. But if you're a parent, or you've got other sorts of family commitments, there is no way that you can do that. A little bit of extra fuelling and having a plan for that can be useful just for your overall life and maybe not getting divorced as well.


Alright. Good morning, Andrea. Alright. So there hasn't been any questions come through, which is cool. I feel like I've just been like talking at you. But I really wanted to introduce you to that because it's something that you'll see come up over the next few weeks as the Triathlon Nutrition Academy launches. I'm so excited to open doors to that soon. And I'll be talking about these two things throughout that period as well.


But if you want to learn more about any of those, I've done podcast episodes on a lot of them to start with. And I'll be building on that over time. So some of those other topics are coming soon. But this week on the podcast, it's being released on Friday is we're talking about runners got so a lot of the things that cause it and what happens and then how you can prevent it. So I'm going to give you my top tips there and how to how to manage that as well because that's something that really limits people, limits runners so that that episode is dropping on Friday. And then the week after that, I can't remember what we're doing. I am organised and planned, and it's done, but I can't remember off the top of my head.


Alright, guys! I might jump off thanks for joining me for coffee and questions. Hopefully that was useful. If you have any questions or anything and you're watching the replay, just pop them in and I'll catch up with them later. Penny said “Great info! Look forward to seeing some of the DA crew up on the Sunny Coast next week.” There is heaps of people racing Sunny Coast. I'm pretty excited like touchwood it's going to go ahead like nothing seems to be happening. I'm not going to jinx it. I'm not going to say anymore, but it looks like that one's going ahead. So that's super exciting for all of the long course athletes who just hadn't been able to race much lately because everything keeps getting canned. So good luck to anyone that's listening or watching back the replay that’s doing Sunny Coast and I will see you guys next week!


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