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What Should I Eat as a Triathlete?

May 10, 2024

Triathlons are one of the most challenging (and awesome) multi-sport events, combining swimming, cycling, and running into a single race. Triathletes are dedicated individuals who love to train hard, often balancing training with work and family life. 

They train to test their limits, improve their health, and achieve personal goals. Becoming a triathlete requires a lot of commitment, but it's also incredibly rewarding.

I'm Taryn Richardson, the founder of Dietitian Approved and I’ve been working with triathletes for 15 years, helping them reach their performance goals through my Triathlon Nutrition Academy program. In this article, I'll share insights into what triathletes should eat to boost their performance, aid recovery, and stay hydrated during training and races.

What a Triathlete Eats for Performance

When it comes to triathlon training, nutrition plays a crucial role in providing the energy needed to endure long endurance sessions and high-intensity workouts. The main two key nutrients for performance to consider are protein and carbohydrates. There are many other nutrients important for peak performance, but let’s start here.

Protein helps build and repair muscle tissue, which is essential for recovery and building strength. Triathletes typically need more protein than the average sedentary person because of the increased requirements of endurance training. Lean meats, eggs, fish, dairy products and plant-based sources like legumes, nuts, seeds and tofu are excellent protein sources.

Carbohydrates are the body's primary source of energy, especially for endurance activities like triathlons. They fuel your muscles, allowing you to train longer and harder. Foods like whole grains, fruits, starchy vegetables, milk, yoghurt and legumes are rich in carbohydrates and should form a significant part of a triathlete's diet.

Eating enough protein and carbohydrates isn't as challenging as it might seem. Focus on balanced meals with a combination of both and consider combination snacks like high protein yoghurt and fruit to keep energy levels high throughout the day.

What a Triathlete Eats for Recovery

After a hard training session, the body needs to recover to grow stronger and be ready for the next challenge. Nutrition plays a vital role in this process. Eating within 30 minutes of finishing a training session is important if you want to recover quickly.

Consuming a mix of protein and carbohydrates after training helps to replenish glycogen stores, repair muscle tissue, and reduce muscle soreness. This can be as simple as a recovery smoothie, wrap or sandwich with a lean protein source on wholegrain, or a balanced dinner. The key is to eat the right components to recovery in the perfect quantities for you to kickstart the recovery process. Something we teach inside the Triathlon Nutrition Academy. 

Eating within 30 minutes of training might seem difficult, but with a little planning and organisation, it's easily manageable. Preparing snacks or meals in advance can ensure you have something ready to eat as soon as you finish training, rather than having to go to the shops on the way home. 

What a Triathlete Drinks During Training

Hydration is crucial for any athlete, and triathletes are no exception. During training, triathletes need to replace fluids lost through sweat and maintain electrolyte balance. 

Water and Sports drinks are a popular choice because they contains carbohydrate and electrolytes like potassium and sodium, providing a quick source of energy during long training sessions as well as helping to keep you hydrated.

Carrying a water bottle during training sessions and sipping regularly can help maintain hydration levels and prevent dehydration-related fatigue.

Staying hydrated during training isn't difficult if you make it a habit. Carry a reusable water bottle and consider using hydration packs or belts for longer, endurance sessions. Drinking small amounts consistently throughout the workout will keep you energised and prevent fatigue.


In summary, triathletes need a balanced diet rich in protein and carbohydrates to perform at their best. Eating within 30 minutes of training helps with recovery, and staying hydrated with water and potentially sports drinks can improve endurance and prevent fatigue. At Dietitian Approved, we're dedicated to helping triathletes like you reach your goals by providing personalised training and nutrition advice.

If you're a beginner triathlete looking to improve your performance, we'd love to help. Our Triathlon Nutrition Kickstart course is a great place to start to lay the foundations of proper nutrition. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you succeed in your triathlon journey.

Let's take your triathlon training to the next level!


Other articles you may be interested in:

How Many Calories Should a Triathlete Eat?

Unveiling the Secrets of a Triathlete's Diet


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