Nutrition for Recreational Triathletes

Anyone who trains for triathlon needs to be eating properly. In this guest article, triathlon and nutrition coach Celia Boothman looks at why so many of us are not getting the nutrition we need and what to do about it..

Fuelling the athlete

I don’t know about you, but I started doing triathlon, as a way of getting fit again, and losing some weight. I took on a sprint distance 14 years ago, as a challenge to keep me motivated after having my first baby. I managed to lose weight and also discovered a new passion……. training, and racing. 

I’ve always loved cooking, and planning meals for the week, but when I started to train more, I discovered that I needed to fuel better. I see so many athletes, making poor choices with food. 

and by athletes, I mean you, yes YOU. If you train regularly, and race then you are an athlete.

Mixed vegetable soup with pesto and soda bread
Mixed vegetable soup with pesto and soda bread

A lot of this comes from diet culture. The language that is used in the diet industry is often damaging, and realise it or not, we are all affected on some level. 

It takes some work to reprogramme your brain to start looking at fuel and food in a different way.

You need to start fuelling like an athlete, and also believing that you have that identity. 

The general population, are not exercising half as much as you are, if you train for triathlons! Most of the advice about eating well, and food are based around a sedentary, or semi active population.

Some of the ways people get tripped up is by eating well, but restricting calories, or training in a fasted state.

Restricting calories

Firstly make sure that you are eating enough to support the exercise that you are doing. I use tracking with my clients for a few days to find out if they are eating enough during the day. You can use an app like My Fitness Pal, or Cronometer. (Cronometer is more accurate) but don’t get too hung up on the numbers.

omelette with greens and tomato salsa
omelette with greens and tomato salsa

Getting it right most of the time is your goal. I don’t recommend tracking long term, as it can become all consuming and stressful, so it just helps to find out if there are any deficiencies in your daily nutrition.

Training Fasted

The other way that people struggle is by forgetting to fuel for sessions. This takes a bit of planning so that you don’t leave it too long after eating to exercise. You need a few “go to” pre-workout snacks, if you haven’t eaten within the last 2 hours. Especially if you are doing a long or intense session. Ideally containing some carbs and protein.

peanut and protein energy balls
peanut and protein energy balls

Make it a priority to eat in and around training sessions, you want to give your body what it needs so that you can complete sessions to the best of your ability, and so that you recover faster. It will depend on your training for the day, but not fueling for sessions can leave you depleted, and is unsustainable in the long term, as it drives up cortisol levels, which can actually make you put on weight.

Pick one of these goals and try it over the next few weeks, see if it makes a difference to how you feel going into training sessions, and let me know how you get on. If you have any questions get in touch, I’m happy to help.

Fuelling for your adventures is so important, and helps you to develop a healthy relationship with food.

About Celia

Celia Boothman, is a triathlon and nutrition coach who specialises in optimising performance for female athletes. LTR coaching was set up in 2014, and in 2020 she launched the first group coaching for women triathletes.

You can join her free network on Mighty Networks 

Or find out more at her  website


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