Ironman Training: 8 Nutrition Rules To Keep You Going
Want to compete in the ultimate endurance event? Here's how all you triathletes can stay properly fueled during training—so you can rock it on race day.
Eat lean protein within 45 minutes of a workout.
A good source of lean protein (with essential amino acids) is the ultimate recovery food—when consumed within 45 minutes of exercise, it repairs microscopic damage to your muscle tissue caused by working out. So depending on when you train, incorporate lean chicken, fish, nuts, and beans into a post-workout meal, or have a tall glass of low-fat chocolate milk as a snack. Its mix of protein and carbs is perfect for rapid recovery. (A note of warning from Wilson: With its lower protein count, chocolate almond milk doesn't count.)
Fill up on fruits and veggies.
This may sound obvious, but suppressing your appetite with the best stuff on earth is key—fruits and raw vegetables (loaded with phytonutrients) provide a great source of fiber and antioxidants essential to digestive and overall health. So snack on apples, bananas, and green veggies (like spinach, zucchini, and kale), which are rich with iron—another key mineral for athletes.
Load 1/3 your plate with complex carbs.
Energy is essential for an endurance athlete, and nutrient-dense carbohydrates—like potatoes, rice, and whole-grain pastas and cereals—replenish glycogen and stimulate insulin production. It is important, however, to eat those complex carbs in moderation. Wilson recommends reserving a third of your plate at big meals for starch (think: a side of potatoes and rice), balanced by equal parts protein and veggies.
Stoke your metabolism with a good breakfast.
Breakfast will always be beyond important. Period. And Wilson recommends a good balance of protein, carbs, and fat to keep you full the longest. Two solid options: Greek yogurt with granola, nuts, and dried fruit or breakfast quinoa, which can be served just like oatmeal. The quinoa packs twice as much as protein as normal cereal, and as an added bonus, it’s gluten-free.