Nutritional plans can come and go in the triathlete world, especially as it relates to training and race day nutrition. What to eat, when to eat, and in which form can become the center of many conversations when in the company of other triathletes – sports drinks, energy bars, and power foods, oh my. Just pick up any triathlete magazine and chances are you will find one or more articles on fueling the body and what works best. You will also learn much more about the digestive system than you ever, ever thought you would need or want to know, often over dinner. Oh, and don’t forget you get to hear how many calories they burned working out, so they don’t have to worry about what they eat. Really????
As you can well imagine, meals require a degree of flexibility as they depend on whether it’s in-season, off-season, or close to a race. The types of food, the amount of food, and the times you eat all can change. Being aware of this is half the battle. If you have children, this will require additional thought and planning as nutritional requirements may certainly vary amongst the group. Now, this does assume that you are multi-tasking – triathlete supporter and meal preparer!
The staples we always try to have on hand include peanut butter, almond butter, quinoa, rice, pasta, steel cut oatmeal, nuts, energy bars, coconut water, sweet potatoes, sweet potato chips, beans, eggs, chicken, Superfood instant cups, bananas, Ovaltine, Gatorade, dark chocolate, frozen egg white patties, and bagels.
Maintaining your athlete’s nutritional program while on vacation can also be a challenge, especially when the vacation is not race-related. This really comes into play when it’s race season and they are at the peak of training, as they will need to adhere to a more specific dietary plan (count yourself fortunate if you are even able to take a vacation at this point in time). But, if you’re like us, you still love to eat well while on vacation, while making sure they get the right calories. This means that we have spent time researching where to eat during the planning phase of our trips.
Dana: I found that all of the planning became especially important and challenging since my husband became a vegan last year. So, after staying in so many hotels/motels, I decided a change was in order. Yes, I love me a great hotel stay and still get that in, but the comfort of having what your family really needs is even better, not to mention generally more economical. To make life simpler, we started renting houses and apartments and cooking for ourselves. We now travel with food, ship food, source food, and use an instihot. In Hawaii, everything was from my neighbors’ organic farm or the rancher and local fishermen. My best friend is the slow cooker and it should become yours, too. You really can make such nutritious, great tasting meals with little effort. Flashback to the crock pot anyone? Sherry and I also actually cook meals for our dogs this way for the same reason.
One final tip: a great source to find local, clean food is to ask your local organic farmer which restaurants they supply. Most are happy to promote this if you ask.
Jodi, on the other hand, has it easy with Guy. “As long as he has meat, preferably steak, and pasta, along with all the gels, blocks, and drink mixes, oh, and chocolate milk and oatmeal, we are good to go.”
Sherry is somewhere in between. “Carl has some food allergies that always have to be taken into account. I think he has gotten much more flexible with his diet over the years, as he now knows what his body works best on. It’s been a trial and error process. For instance, he switched his electrolyte replacement drink while training to Gatorade, as they started using this during races and keeping the fluids the same proved best.”
Discussing your athlete’s nutritional needs and flexibility in meal preparation are just a part of this lifestyle, as you want to help keep them in top racing form. But, hey athletes, can we find some better dinner conversation? PLEASE………
We will soon be featuring a nutritionist who specializes in triathletes and many different eating styles. We’ll also be adding many more recipes to On The Menu. Coming soon, Paleo triathletes. Say what?????
– THE TRIWIVES
Sherry is one of the TriWivesClub and LifeDoneWell co-founders and contributes to multiple blogs. She is a former co-owner of the California Apparel News and had a career in the healthcare industry. Her passions include traveling, real food, the environment, and animal rescue/welfare. She lives a healthy lifestyle and has been a vegetarian since 1987. She and her husband are parents to two rescue pups and reside in Connecticut.