How to fuel your body in training

Whether you have decided to participate in the super sprint, sprint or Olympic distance triathlon in September’s edition of the Brighton & Hove Triathlon, nutrition will play a big part in helping you achieve your goals. You may have heard that nutrition is undoubtedly the fourth leg of a triathlon. Fuelling your body correctly can make the difference between surviving the three disciplines, going faster or being able to enjoy the time just that little bit more.

Why is nutrition important?

As you are reading this blog, your body is burning energy. It may be burning energy to break down food or to maintain normal bodily function. Energy is the fuel of life and we get our energy from food. When we exercise, our bodies requirement for more energy increases dramatically. Energy is required to contract muscle, to transport nutrients, to break down food sources and even for brain function. Who knew! Therefore, when we exercise, we need to make sure we provide our body with the energy it needs to not only maintain body function, but also to allow us to exercise and adapt to a training stimulus.

Carbohydrates are your training and race fuel.

Everyone loves carbs right? Carbohydrates is your body’s main fuel source for high intensity exercise. That means that you are going to need to use your carbohydrate stores in the liver and muscle, or consume carbohydrates to fuel your bodies requirements for extra energy.

Did you know? 1g of Carbohydrates provides 4kcals

Glycogen is our bodies muscle and liver store of carbohydrates. Glycogen will be your main fuel source for your triathlon so making sure you have enough carbohydrates in your system is key to being able to sustain exercise above moderate intensities (Yes that means that you have to have carbohydrates in your diet). Our stores of glycogen normally last for around 90 minutes during aerobic exercise (so that doesn’t count sprinting, which is anaerobic). This means that if you are going to be training above 90 minutes or exercising at intensities closer to your maximum heart rate your body is going to require fuel, in the form of carbohydrates.

There is lots of choice over the carbohydrates you can consume during training. The main thing here is to find something that you like to eat. It could be a flapjack, an energy bar, an energy gel, a banana or even dried fruit. Try and keep it as natural as possible. For those really high intensity sessions you can use gels as they contain fast acting carbohydrates which get into your system very quickly. For the longer, lower intensity sessions, stick to foods which release energy slowly over time such as an oat energy bar. The HIGH5 Energy Bar is a good option here.

Why hydration is cool.

When we exercise our body sweats to keep our core temperature down. A lot of us sweat quite a lot during exercise, which means that we lose bodily fluids pretty fast. As little as 2% loss in body weight can lead to impaired performance and feelings of fatigue. Keeping hydrated should always be a priority.

During training you should be drinking regularly. The best way to do this is by sipping on an electrolyte or sports drink every 15-20 minutes. Ideally, you should be aiming for around 500ml per hour and try to stick to drinks which contain electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and magnesium (like HIGH5 ZERO or Energy Source).

How can we recover?

Protein and carbohydrates are your go to for post training. They will ensure you kick start the recovery process to enable you to train again the next day, or adapt to the training you have just done.

Aim to consume a post-training snack which contains both protein and carbohydrates as soon as you can. HIGH5 Protein Recovery is a good option. After around 2 hours you should also consume a balanced meal containing, protein, carbohydrates, fats and vegetables, as they provide minerals.

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