Let’s talk about one of my favorite topics… FOOD!!!! Oh boy oh boy do I love to eat. And with all the training involved in training for a tri, there’s so much opportunity to eat. Sometimes, too much opportunity to eat. I own a champion-level sweet tooth, particularly when it comes to ice cream. My single twenties were filled with nights where a pint of Ben & Jerry’s was all I needed for dinner. And in my single twenties I didn’t have to worry about the effects too much. But when I hit my married late twenties, the party was over. A rapid 15lbs of weight gain had me doing some serious food soul searching. Thanks to a little guidance from the ladies at toneitup.com, I cut back on the ice cream (and pizza. And beer. And hamburgers.) and switched to a diet of lean veggies and proteins. What I’ve come to realize with triathlon is that food really is the fuel that helps your body perform. Triathletes love to obsess about what they put in their bodies, from gluten free to dairy free to soy free to vegan only, down to the protein and carbs consumed by the gram per pound of body weight.
Sorry, that’s too complicated for me. I have a life to be getting on with.
Basic triathlon nutrition (or nutrition for anything, really) boils down to one thing: the best foods you can consume for your body are whole, real foods that come from nature. That means buying whole fruits and vegetables, lean meats, nuts, and vegetarian proteins. Carbohydrates come from whole wheat and potatoes, not enriched white bread. If you can swing the extra bucks for organic, well, hey, why not? It’s less bad stuff going in your body. And if you’ve got additional dough on hand, purchasing humanely raised meat is better for the environment and better for your karma (and often much more delicious!).
The best gauge of your food choices is how you feel after eating them. I love ice cream and red wine, often in combination. But ice cream makes me bloated and gassy (I know,TMI) and red wine makes me puffy and itchy. I know that if I have a 7am bike ride lined up for Saturday morning then I am not eating ice cream or drinking wine the night before. Try eliminating some of these aggravators from your diet for two weeks and see how you feel without them and then what changes you experience when you (slowly) add them back in.
I don’t believe in diets. I don’t believe you should deprive yourself of things that are delicious. But I do think that some delicious things are more nutritious for your body than others, and those are the foods you should be eating more of to fuel your training.