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Where to start with a diet plan?...

Hi all, I'm a novice triathlete having only completed one Triathlon - Tha London Tri last year. I'm still training but finding that my diet or lack of it is really hindering my progress, however whenever I've looked into diet they seem very confusing and tbh I really dont want to get really complex and make life difficult but I do acknowledge that diet is something I should be considering. So my question is where do I start?Where are there any basic plans to start? Also sorry if this post is littered with errors as my phone doesnt always show all of the text area....


  • HarryDHarryD Posts: 425

    A diet (noun) is what you eat to live. In triathlon we try and sound so superior by calling it 'nutrition'. To diet (verb) is what you do to loose weight

    Very few triathletes need more than what could be called a 'traditional' balanced diet. Maybe just a little more than sedentary folk though

    The latest 220 has a section of nutrition which is a good place to start

    If you want to go into it deeper have a look at 'Sports Nutrition' by Anita Bean. Highly recommended although my 5th edition is out of date regarding hydration


  • Thanks HarryD. Please excuse my novice terms ..

    I suppose that when it comes to my personal training and excercise regime nutrition has never been a real consideration - I think because maybe I have built it up to be something that it is not, a complicated science, what with pre, post and mid excercise nutritional intake, eat this and not that I just seem to glaze over 

    However a few incidents recently made me think again. I am regularly running 10K and at the moment I am slowly building up past this, however twice in the same week I went for a run as i always do and i struggled to 3.5 - 4k and had to walk with my energy tanks and mental strength completely empty . I could only put this down to poor nutritianal intake for them days. A few days later i conciously ate a good solid meal 2 hours before excercise time and this time comfortably hit 10k with plenty left in the tank.

    I therefore feel that for me to progress I really need to start eating a better - as you say balanced diet which i dont feel I do. I often see 55% protein carbohydrate splits or something similar) etc etc but just wondered if there were any good basic guides or links available on the web such as breakfast, lunch and dinner general ideas with any changes for longer training days etc. I feel that there is a minefield of info available but too many times I have had advice from armchair athletes and so thought some advice from people in the know may be able to help with.

    Thanks for the book recomendation I will look into this.

  • What kind of things are you eating at the moment DP?

    For me, it's about getting enough calories through good, healthy but filling food. Sounds dull, but I eat homemade porridge with a big mug of tea to fuel my long run sessions - works for me!

    If you're running early mornings though and can't stomach food, you could try getting some energy in you first from a good sports drink or homemade smoothie?

    If you usually run 10K without any problems but have bonked a couple of times recently, it might be worth thinking about whether there's another cause eg are you working longer hours, under a lot of stress, fighting a bug? It all makes a difference.

    As HarryD says, the latest issue of 220 (on sale now) is our nutrition special, so that might be useful for you too.

  • I'm having some issues at the moment myself!! I'm one of those (increasingly less rare) rugby player turned triathletes and so I've always been a big bloke. I'm certainly not made for running. I'm trying to lose weight to support my Ironman 70.3 training. Can you give me two or three examples of evening meals I could have? At the moment I just seem to have pasta and sauce! Also, is it dangerous to run on an empty stomach? I'm currently running an hour on a Thursday morning before breakfast and it doesn't feel too bad. Apparently if I can hold off about 30 mins after the run before eating I can start to see some real benefits. Is there any truth in that?

  • Hi Tom,

    Have you got a copy of our issue295 (Feb?) if so have a look at the feature on page 64. In it, coach Joe Beer talks about the benefits of running on an empty stomach as a way to tap fat.

    Basically, not eating before a session means you don't need to leave a delay to digest and it also creates a 'catabolic' session, ie your body taps straight into fat reserves to source energy. He recommends having only black coffee before the session, then waiting 40mins afterwards before eating.

    Personally I run a lot early mornings on an empty stomach and anything up to about 10K seems fine - over that I start to wilt a bit, so I leave longer runs for the weekend and make sure I get some brekkie first!

    As for evening meals - I try to get a good mix of carbs, protein and veggies. Time's tight in my house though, so I'll make huge portions of meals that can be frozen in portions such as beef and veg chilli (served with rice or jacket spud), lentil and spinach curry (again with rice!) or bean and sausage casserole.

    Hope these ramblings help - and good luck with your training!



  • Hi Helen and thanks for your advice,

    my work hours have changed over the last 12 months from a shift pattern with quite a lot of free time to a monday to friday early starter. I no longer get the time to train in the mornings so it is all about the evenings around life and children lol.. I have been very good eating breakfast which is something i never have been able to do - most days porridge and tea or poached egg on toast and tea (except blow out fridays when I treat myself ).

    My evening meals are generally fresh and relatively healthy but weekends are sometimes difficult to stay good but again I cant always be perfect.

    However my lunch is restricted to canteen food which is not great and also find myself eating rolls or sandwhiches with bread being my BIG downfall. I do feel though that I could be doing more, a few colleagues have talked about various nutrition plans they have as they down their regular protein shakes at different times through the day albeit both serious for muscle growth and not athletic endurance and I feel that I should have a plan of some sort rather than just taking what is available?

    Unfortunatley lunch at 11:30 is my last meal before i run in the evenings when i'm home from work (4pm - 5pm), if I have dinner first (around 5pm - 6pm) I have to wait to digest and cant get out till late in the evening.

    If need be I was thinking of preparing my food for the week, freezing it and having that daily for lunch and even dinner seeing as this will fuel my activities but is there any real need to be this specific and planned, after all I'm not trying to contend with the pro's, I''m guessing from the replies from yourself and HarryD that it is more about being balanced with intake rather than outright planning to the calorie?

    I think maybe to summarise my origional post; how specific should an amatuer triathlete like myself focus on nutrition to avoid having a detrimental impact on training and progression? If I should be focusing more on nutrition where should I be looking for basic guidelines as most articles focus on raceday nutrition or the taper leading up to it.

    P.S I liked the article by Joe Beer regarding early morning excercise with no breakfast to tap into fat reserve, I'm thinking this should be applied to my weekend running activities, easy to remember the recipe too

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