Nutrition and Training
Establishing good habits when it comes to your nutrition will benefit you in many ways. This isn’t necessarily something unique to triathlon training, but instead a way to create behaviors and routines that will make you healthier and give you more energy for everything that life may offer. I am not talking about going on a diet here, but instead, changing your perspective to one of seeing everything that you put into your body as fuel.
There are many approaches to healthy eating, but many of them focus on two central concepts: Clean Eating and Portion Control.
When we ascribe to Clean Eating, we choose whole, naturally healthy foods as opposed to heavily processed ones, easily limiting the extra salts, fats and other junk that goes into the box or can that we often don’t even realize is there. By choosing lean protein sources, whole grains, brown rice and other nutritionally dense foods, we give our body fuel that is filling and long-lasting, as opposed to something that will leave you feeling sluggish and most likely leaving you hungry shortly after your meal.
Portion Control is essential to making sure that you are eating enough to fuel your body while also preventing yourself from unknowingly eating too much. There are many ways to measure your portions, but I have found that color-coded portion control containers are an excellent way to start. Once you determine how many of each container you are supposed to consume each day, you simply use the containers to measure your meals and snacks. By choosing portions that are appropriate for your body and activity level, you take full control of how much of each food group that you put in your body. Whether you are trying to shed a few pounds or trying to bulk up and build muscle, having control over your dietary needs is invaluable.
Meal Planning is a skill that you can use to make it easy to eat well, even when life gets busy. The most basic element of meal planning is to be very thorough in your grocery shopping and planning for the days ahead. Make a list of the meals you will eat and the components needed to make them all. I like to add an extra meal each week as well that is super easy, for those days when I get home and don’t necessarily feel like cooking. Don’t forget to include some healthy snacks for the week.
Meal Prepping is the next step in this progression, if you really want to get organized. Some folks will do nearly all of their weekly cooking on one day, preparing, portioning and packaging all of their meals, allowing them to just “grab and go” when it comes to breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Having meals that are portioned out and easy to access makes it super easy to stick with your nutrition goals. If you are like me, however, and prefer a little bit of flexibility, you can prep a few meals at a time (we prep most of breakfast and our lunches in advance) and cook the rest to order.
As your training begins to intensify, you should be warned that you will be hungry. Be prepared to have healthy snacks on hand to avoid undoing your hard work with poor nutrition choices. Get used to bringing snacks with you to work and to other activities to avoid making poor choices, just because you’re hungry. Your body will be burning more calories during your training sessions and you will need to give it the fuel to keep up with the increased workload. Choosing quality fuels over junk food will keep you energized and lean
Equally important to your nutritional needs, is the need for you to keep your body hydrated. Water serves many essential functions to the human body. From keeping your joints properly lubricated to maintaining blood pressure and transporting waste materials, you need to be properly hydrated to be healthy in the most basic sense. A general rule to follow is that the average person should aim to drink half of their body weight in ounces of water each day. This means that a 150 pound person should be consuming at least 75 ounces of water per day. When you are an active person, however, you should take into account that you will be losing water in the form of perspiration when you exercise or train. I generally aim to add at least twenty to thirty ounces of water above my minimum to account for this.