Triathlon performance is, a lot of times, influenced by how much you weigh. That’s the reality. You don’t see very many 185+ pound athletes winning Ironman races. So it’s natural for us to fall into the trap of wanting to lose some weight before race day. But your ideal race weight isn’t synonymous with being as light as possible.
Summer 2019 is here! After a bitter cold winter and soggy spring in Upstate New York I skipped town and am kicking off summer in Europe. Italy to be exact. I’ve been here for over a week now and while I’ve allowed myself to take some liberties with my nutrition and exercise because, well #YOLO, I’ve been able to maintain a proper balance of quality training for Ironman Mont Tremblant and eating well enough without meticulously counting calories because, let’s be honest, that’s a major drag!
Compared to a typical person of similar sex, age, height, and weight my metabolic rate is 19% faster. That simply means I burn more calories than normal. Obviously the opposite is true too. Slow metabolisms burn fewer calories. Most people need to eat below their total metabolic rate to lose weight. There’s that calories in versus calories out research again!
To determine daily caloric expenditure, I used the hour-by-hour BMR calculations. Here are the calculations used:
162 lbs, converted to kilograms, 162 divided by 2.2, 73.5 kg. When multiplied by the lean factor of 1 for 10% body fat, and then multiplied by 24 for total BMR, we arrived at 1,766 calories at rest per day. Break that down by 24 hours, dividing 1,766 by 24 for each hour in the day, I expend 73.5 calories per hour at rest.
Each macronutrient (fat, carbohydrate, protein) plays an important role in health and performance. For example, different carbohydrate will affect energy and performance depending on nutrient timing and type of carbohydrate a triathlete eats. Fats are the most calorically dense macronutrient and if over consumed can negatively affect body composition. Protein during and after workouts, for example, will be used for energy and repair, respectively.
Different types of fat will affect energy and performance depending on nutrient timing and quality of the fat. Fats are the most calorically dense macronutrient and if over consumed can negatively affect body composition.
Dietary fats should generally come in the lower end of your macronutrient breakdown, especially if you’re properly focusing on carbohydrates and protein. This will leave an athlete with fats making up roughly 20% of their daily caloric intake, generally.
This is the first article in a five week series where we discuss proper nutrition for triathletes. The first week focuses on basic nutrition practices for general health. Moving forward we’ll explain the importance of fat, protein, and carbohydrate as well as share strategies to calculate your daily caloric expenditure and the proper macronutrient breakdown to improve your athletic performance.
Basic nutrition practices for general health
The evidence of poor nutrition is rampant. You don’t need to look further than your friends, family, and coworkers for proof. It’s an unfortunate reality, but there’s no sense in sugarcoating everything just because they do.
I was reminded of this fact on Saturday morning when my alarm went off at 4:00 AM (yes, on a Saturday) and it was 17F degrees outside. I had a 90 minute bike ride with an hour at or near threshold followed by a 20 minute brick run. My pain cave is the uninsulated garage and I forget to get the propane heater refilled. Alas, I was left to battle the workout plus the frozen temperatures. Good mental training, right?
Food can mean different things to different people. For a marathon runner it means fuel, recovery, and a little bit of freedom. SENS Fitness Endurance Team member Todd Stevens is training for the New Jersey Marathon in April. It’ll be his first marathon. He’s given himself the goal of finishing in under four hours. Todd is set to begin his ninth week of training for the 26.2 mile run. We’re looking at a few days of nutrition to see if there are areas to improve.
On Saturday the bug got me. Bad. My alarm was set for 4:30 a.m. and I planned on being on the trainer by 5:00 a.m. for a 90 minute ride, which included five 10 minute intervals just below threshold followed by a short, but snappy 10 minute brick run. So when I awoke at 3:15 a.m. with unspeakable pain in my stomach and a splitting headache I knew that as I raced to the bathroom that would be the only running I’d be doing that day.
Drinking is a non-negotiable for many people, and there’s really no reason to eliminate it completely. Almost all of us enjoy drinking to some degree. It’s fun, it’s livens us up, allows to meet new people, share stories, and the list goes on. So how do we build it into our nutrition routine without allowing it to derail our progress?