Whether you are a recreational triathlete, competitive, or an aspiring Olympian, an essential part of your success and well being is an appropriate nutrition plan tailored to your individual needs.
Just as you may specifically train for each leg of the triathlon, your diet also needs to reflect on your goals and desired outcomes. The daily recommended amounts of energy (kJ), protein, carbohydrates and fat required vary greatly depending on the individual and your level of activity.
To achieve your nutrient intake and keep your body fuelled over the day, it is ideal to have three meals and two or more snacks each day. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of fuel, and are essential for muscle and brain function. Proteins are required for growth and repair of body tissues. Adequate carbohydrate and protein intake are important for everyone, but even more so for active people who often have higher requirements.
Aim to include a portion of your total daily carbohydrate and protein around training, where the body can use it more effectively. If you have a morning training session, it can be a good idea to have a carbohydrate containing snack before you start. If it is an evening session, try to have a more substantial meal around 4 hours before you start, and have another snack around 1 hour before your session. Then consume a carbohydrate and protein containing meal or snack within 30mins of training to help kick start the recovery process. For a training session less than 60 minutes duration, water is an adequate drink to keep you hydrated. However, for a training session over an hour, sports drink is a good option as it will give you some extra carbohydrates for energy, and also help your hydration levels.
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The general population guidelines for consumption of total fat, saturated fat, fibre and alcohol are also relevant for active people. Although being active may alter your nutrition needs slightly, the key notions of dietary variety and moderation are still important elements to maintaining health and well being.
How could a sports dietitian help?
Sports Dietitians are recognised professionals with the qualifications and skills to provide expert nutrition and dietary advice. A Sports Dietitian can help construct a personalised meal plan according to your training and competition goals. You may seek advice from a sports dietitian if you are wanting to train to your potential without feeling fatigued, lose some weight, or set out a plan for your nutritional intake during a race. Sports dietitians are also Accredited Practising Dietitians, who can help with a range of other conditions such as general health and weight loss, diabetes, gastro-intestinal disorders and food allergies.
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