Triathlon Breakfast – What To Eat Before A Triathlon?
Nutrition & Meal Plans Week Before Triathlon
Many triathletes ask what triathlon breakfast they should have leading up to a race. Here we talk about your nutrition & meal plans the week before your triathlon.
While there have been a lot of studies of athletes on low carb diets, we believe carbohydrates should start increasing two to three days before the race. There have been multiple types of research showing that a single day of carbohydrate loading can be beneficial for some people. But for most triathletes, two to three days of loading works well.
One study had athletes consuming 4.5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of mass a day. Digesting that amount for most is quite challenging. ( To give you an example – 160 pounds x 4.5 grams of carbs equals 720 grams of carbohydrate). So this is on the higher scale of carb-loading and is not recommended for most people.
The better option for most triathletes is to focus on consuming a lower amount of carbs. Ideally around 4 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight per day. Doing so will increase your muscle glycogen stores and potentially increase your cycling efficiency.
During the days of carb-loading, you should reduce the fat and protein amount, which will help you control the calorie intake. A good recommendation is 0.7 grams per pound of bodyweight and try to keep snacking to a minimum. Eliminating high-protein foods such as nuts can help with this process, although naturally occurring fats such as eggs or salmon are fine during race week.
Another point to make is reducing the amount of fiber, this can help with water retention, thus assisting with weight loss. By reducing fiber you are also reducing the chance of Gi issues, which is common between athletes.
Leading up to an event requires trial and error of a nutrition strategy. High carb-loading may work for some and not others. Test multiple race week diets in training and document the outcome, that way you are sure to benefit on race day.
What To Eat Day Before A Triathlon?
The day before a triathlon race can be the most important. What you eat the day before a triathlon can have a major impact on your race. Since you have already eased back your training and now preparing for the next day’s event. Continue with the same food strategy as you have but try to increase your sodium intake.
Sodium is related to sweat loss, therefore the more you sweat, the more sodium you will loose. So if the race is located in a warm and humid environment, up your sodium intake. This can be done by adding salt to your food or consuming foods such as pretzels or soup. For heavier sweaters, you can look to salt loading through electrolyte drinks and tablets in the days leading up to the event.
Tips for the night before
1. Eat a relatively early dinner, try to eat 8-12 hours before your race start.
2. Focus on a carbohydrate-rich meal such as rice, pasta, veggies, or bread. But be careful not to overload too much.
3. Avoid foods you haven’t tried before. Keep to similar foods you have been eating in training or during race week.
4. Choose a “ritual” dinner that you eat before each event. This helps to calm the nerves and gives some comfort from what you know.
5. Don’t over hydrate the night before this can affect your sleeping pattern sending you to the bathroom multiple times.
6. Increase your sodium intake during dinner if the race is located in a hot humid environment.
So you have gotten through the tapering period and now your on triathlon race day wondering what breakfast you should have.
Your pre triathlon breakfast should consist of foods rich in carbohydrates, such as a bagel or muesli with banana on top. The carbohydrate will help you restore your liver glycogen levels that were depleted overnight. Make sure your breakfast is something you have eaten before in training and be sure to aim for 0.75-1.5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of weight, then continue this per hour leading up to your race. Since athletes like to eat multiple hours before the start of their big event, it is important that you continue to drip-feed carbohydrate into your system until the start.
Adding some coffee (caffeine) to the mix can be beneficial on race day as it helps the body utilize body fat better. Thus increasing performance and the work you can sustain during the event.