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Triathlon Nutrition

(Ironman athletes looking for the revolutionary Long-Course Triathlon Nutrition evaluation Tool, see further down this page or click here).

I'm not a nutritionist. Here I simply share a few quick thoughts:

Full disclosure - I partner with Hammer, because I love their stuff, particularly Perpetuem and Hammer Gel.

The following link provides a 15% discount:

Race Fueling, some good articles:
    Dan Empfield discusses "The Mathematics of Race Fueling  ". For the 3rd photo he used a photo of my top tube in Kona 2001.

My personal nutrition

Everyone's needs differ, here's my own nutrition plan for triathlons (I race at 176-182 lbs):
 SprintWater only
 OlympicBreakfast - 200-300 kcal Heed. Bike: 150-200 cal simple carb' drink or 2 Hammer Gels plus water.
 Half Iron6 Hammer Gels on the bike, 2 on the run, plus water. Approx 2g Sodium if hot.
 Iron8 Hammer Gels on the Bike, plus 1500 Cal mix of simple and complex carb drinks plus water
10 Hammer Gels on the Run, plus water
(Ave 450 cal/hr on bike, 350/hr on run), plus water.  Approx 9g Sodium if warm, from all sources including supplements. Caffeinated gels as appropriate to optimize levels in the later stages of the race.

The Ironman numbers are pretty high, but less doesn't work for me. If I had the time to do more lower intensity work I could, per Bob Seebohar's opinion (link here) train my body to better utilize fat, thus avoiding possible GI issues associated with taking a lot of food.
At the bottom of this page I've shared my Ironman nutrition budget.


Specially formulated electrolyte tablets like the widely available Hammer Endurolytes are better than simple tablets like Thermotabs. Be aware that you might need quite a few, they having only 40mg of sodium.
20oz of Gatorade Performance  has 275mg of Sodium. One Thermotab has 180mg of Sodium (in NaCl). 
I run with my tablets in a small ziploc bag, while for biking I put them in a flexible Hammer pill dispenser which I tape to my bike at the start of an Ironman, then keep in one leg of my shorts. At 180lbs I take a little under 1000mg of Sodium per hour in Hawaii, and somewhat less in Lake Placid. IM Canada winner Jordan Rapp was reported here as taking over 1500mg/hr, which raised a lot of eyebrows, but he presumably has a very high sweat rate and apparently knows what he's doing.


The old method of performing carbo-depletion prior to a 3-4 day carbo load is no longer in vogue, most people typically go with a 3 day carbo load, keeping the total calories the same while increasing the proportion of carbs, particularly from low Glycemic Index foods.
Alternatively, the article at this link   details the Western Australia Method, whereby 24 hrs before a race an athlete performs a short workout which involves a 2-3 minute very hard effort (eg mile pace) followed over the next 24 hrs by the consumption 12g of carbs per kilogram of lean body mass (i.e. weight without the fat).

The Glycemic Index

Here's a good basic list of the types of food we should take (Low GI) and avoid (High GI), especially during a carbo-load:  

Some low GI foods:
  •     Whole wheat Pasta
  •     White Meat
  •     Strawberrys, blueberrys, raspberrys
  •     Most other fruits (not so much OJ or bananas)    
  •     Most beans
  •     Most bran cereals
Things to avoid
  •     Basic Sports drinks (there are far better ways to get a bit of Sodium that taking all that sugar).
  •     Red meat

Blood Glucose Level with High/Low GI foods


Discount links:

Race nutrition planning:

I advocate planning your Ironman nutrition ahead of time. This isn't easy to do accurately. Back in the day I'd use a spreadsheet (here is a link to my 2009 Hawaii Ironman Nutrion budget) but I've recently developed an innovative tool that analyses everything you need to know about your Nutrition Plan. Below are a few snapshots from this Google Docs based tool, which you can read more about at: