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Nutrition for Triathletes

Tralee Triathlon Club Lecture Series

Yesterday evening saw Joe O’ Connor first to the podium with an informative presentation on sports nutrition as part of our winter lecture series.  Joe, a West Limerick native, certainly has the gift of the gab and regardless of one’s interest in nutrition he has the ability to captivate his audience with his very quick wit, incredible enthusiasm and absolute honesty.  I for one went home vowing never to eat ice-cream again (so far so good – can’t say the same about chocolate unfortunately!!!) When it comes to sports nutrition Joe’s knowledge is astounding and club members left having a really good understanding of the “non-training training”!  In other words the importance of practical things that helps us perform as athletes.  The formula for optimal performance he gave is optimal training and recovery. He broke recovery training into two categories: sleep and nutrition and spoke about each in great detail.

Nutrition

Joe’s six rules:

  • Eat 6 times a day
  • Eat the colours of the rainbow (all together: “Richard of York gave battle in vain”).

Joe’s top tips: Beetroot has the highest level of absorbable nitrates (more than available in supplements!) – should consume 48 hrs before races.  Joe recommends using a tubberware to freeze fruit – can be used for making smoothies and throwing over porridge)

  • Sip on water. Drink frequently throughout the day rather than consuming large volumes directly before training.  This help with digestion and glucose absorption.
  • White isn’t bright. Stay away from white foods unless you need to aggressively recover after very intense exercise.
  • Avoid all fried foods (including crisps!!)

Joe’s tip: We should be careful not to overcook stir-fry’s.  Joe recommends steaming fish/chicken and mix in vegetables (they should still have a crunch when eaten!)

  • No fizzy drinks

Joe’s tip:  Joe has rules for a shopping list on his website.  The Board Bia website search engine has a healthy food planner which tells you how to read food labels.

To summarise there is no perfect food as there is no single food that can provide all nutrients.  Therefore, we need a variety of food spread across the day.  To this end Joe recommends eating six times a day (a healthy snack in between each of the main meals).  Eating every 2-21/2 hrs allows the body to absorb more nutrients!  Remember: fuel to train – don’t refuel afterwards!  Joe also recommends fuelling on a low GI diet and recovering on a high one.

Sleep

As an endurance athlete 40% deep sleep is needed.  Not being ready for training nutritionally will affect sleep regardless of recovery drinks etc.  Eating late at night will also affect deep sleep.

Joe’s tip: Hot water and lemon is very useful in the evening instead of tea as it aids digestion which will help us enjoy a deeper sleep!  Joe suggested trying out ‘motion x’ app to track your sleep

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Helen Hayes

Helen Hayes

Helen Hayes

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