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The Nutrient Deficiencies That Are Killing Your Triathlon Race Times

Apr 18, 2024

As a triathlete that loves to push their body to the limit, maintaining a balanced intake of essential nutrients is vital. Unfortunately, nutrient deficiencies are a common problem that can significantly impact your training and racing performance. Sometimes without you even knowing there's a problem!

Ensure you're optimising these three nutrients in your diet as an endurance athlete if you want to train harder and race faster:

Key Nutrient Deficiencies in Triathletes


Iron deficiency is unfortunately prevalent among endurance athletes. It’s a critical component of haemoglobin, which plays a key role in transporting oxygen around the body from your lungs to the working muscles and other tissues. Iron deficiency can lead to anaemia, characterised by fatigue, tiredness, weakness and a noticeable decline in performance. Triathletes should aim to include iron-rich foods like lean meats, lentils and green leafy vegetables such as spinach in their diet. But it's also important to understand the factors that enhance iron absorption and those that block iron absorption to optimise your iron status. You lose more iron than our sedentary counterparts and also use more iron as well. Making it really important to understand to prevent iron deficiency. 


Calcium is vital for teeth and bone health and also plays a role in muscle function and nerve transmission. Triathletes are at risk of bone fractures now and as we age if your diet is inadequate in calcium. Good dietary sources of calcium include dairy products, fortified milk-alternatives, tinned fish with bones and green leafy vegetables to name a few. It's important to get enough calcium on a daily basis to maintain the calcium bank necessary to withstand the rigorous demands of training and competing in three sports.

Vitamin D

Often overlooked, vitamin D is crucial for calcium absorption and bone health. It also influences muscle recovery and function. With limited sunlight exposure, especially in the winter months, supplementing vitamin D might become necessary to maintain its optimal levels, thereby supporting bone health and reducing injury risk. There are some dietary sources of Vitamin D including oily fish, eggs, mushrooms and fortified foods. There are also sensible sun exposure guidelines depending on where you live in the world.


Strategies to Overcome Nutrient Deficiencies

  1. Regular Nutritional Assessments: Keeping track of your nutrient intake through regular assessments can help identify deficiencies early. Inside the The Triathlon Nutrition Academy, we explain the ways you can conduct the right assessments to enable you to ensure your dietary needs are met. Having access to a Triathlon Dietitian to review your results is invaluable. 
  2. Dietary Adjustments: Incorporating a diverse range of foods into your diet can naturally boost your intake of these essential nutrients. Focus on whole, unprocessed foods that are rich in the nutrients you’re lacking. We can help guide you on the specific foods to incorporate into your triathlon diet to avoid deficiencies over the long term.
  3. Education and Support: Understanding the role of each nutrient and how it affects your body and performance is crucial. At the Triathlon Nutrition Academy, we provide the knowledge and support you need to make informed nutritional choices, turning the complexity of triathlon nutrition into manageable, practical strategies.


By addressing these common nutrient deficiencies, you will enhance your energy levels, improve recovery times and ultimately, achieve better performance outcomes. Remember, the transition from a tired triathlete to a supercharged one begins with what you put on your plate. If you want to learn more about the Triathlon Nutrition Academy and what our program offers, check out what we do here.



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