by: Dorette Franks, RDN
METS HMP – I | USA Triathlon | USA Track & Field Level I Certified Coach
DAILY NUTRITION For Optimal Endurance Performance (Part 1)
“What should I eat on race day?” This is the probably one of the most common questions asked of sports dietitians and coaches by athletes. My answer is, “Tell me what you eat every day.” Probably not the response you were expecting. But it does make you stop and wonder how dietary habits and nutrition contributes or even impacts endurance performance.
What, when, why and how much one eats during the months of training leading up to race day has everything to do with what and how often the body requires energy in the form of calories, specifically carbohydrates (or as we call it in the field of sports nutrition, “fuel”) on race day. Moreover, the composition of one’s macronutrient intake (meaning, the ratio of carbohydrates to proteins) plays a key role in building a broad and efficient aerobic foundation and metabolism. The efficiency enhances usage of fats (fatty acids) for energy, optimizes body composition, and can improve one’s weight and overall health! Now that’s sustainability!
When I first began racing triathlons in 2000 (Wildflower Long Course being my first!), there was one general rule of thumb to follow: eat carbs! In fact, eat up to 60% of your daily diet as carbohydrates. Carbs were king! And so I ate, we ate, carbohydrates, lots of them, all the time. Personally, this eventually led to an increase in hunger, weight, fatigue, GI distress during racing, and poor recovery. I learned a lot that first year.
Fast forward to 2018, triathletes seasoned and new are dipping into the low-carb/high-fat, Paleo, and nutritional ketosis diet approaches. With so many approaches, which is the best approach to follow?
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