A triathlon is the ultimate test of endurance and calls for optimum levels of energy, so getting your nutrition right can really make a difference to help you cross the line. But, what nutrition do you actually need to take and does it really make a difference? We've picked our five top nutrition tips for tackling a triathlon.
1. Carbs are your #1 fuel
Carbohydrate is your main source of energy during a triathlon. The more you have available for fuel, the faster and further you can go. But your carbohydrate store is relatively small and depleting this store, known as glycogen depletion, often happens when we don't take on carbohydrates regularly throughout longer exercise. Glycogen depletion makes you feel like you have no energy and your legs are like lead. If you are racing for more than 90 minutes, aim for 60-90g of carbohydrate per hour. This can be from sports drinks, energy gels and bars. For shorter distances, take something when you can.
2. Don't leave it too late
Start fuelling as soon as you get out of the water. If you wait until you are hungry or your energy drops, it's normally too late. Little but often is the best fuelling strategy. It will provide you with a steady flow of energy throughout the race.
3. Don't forget hydration
Dehydration is often associated with a drop in performance. But we don't just lose water through sweat. Important minerals (electrolytes) like sodium and potassium are lost through sweating and should be replaced during exercise. Little but often is the best strategy for drinking and aim for around 500ml per hour - more when it's hot! Sports Drinks like HIGH5 Energy Drink contain carbohydrates and electrolytes to enhance your hydration during a triathlon.
4. Caffeine Boost
It's well established that caffeine can supercharge your race day performance. You should aim for 3mg caffeine per kg bodyweight (that's 180mg if you weigh 60kg) but as little as 75mg has been shown to give you an edge. Our table shows what products you could be taking to benefit from caffeine. Most of these also contain carbohydrate so you get a double hit!
5. Have a plan
Find a race day nutrition plan that works for you and stick with it. It's always a good idea to practise your race day nutrition in training. Prepare your nutrition before race day so you are ready to go in the morning. If you want some inspiration for your race day nutrition plan, then check out the HIGH5 Triathlon Nutrition Guides. With over 20 years experience and partnerships with knowledgeable triathletes, we know exactly how to get the most out of your nutrition and ways to keep you sufficiently fuelled through each three legs.