Food, supplements as well as a first triathlon

As a nutrition doctor, I know a lot about diet as well as disease treatment as well as prevention, yet beyond the basics, I didn’t know if there was a diet or supplements of which could help (or hinder) my progress.

To get some answers, I reached out to Elizabeth Broad, senior sports dietician for the US Olympic Committee as well as Jose Antonio, founder of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Broad explained of which even at the elite athlete level, she always takes the food-first approach to nutrition. She assured me of which by eating a healthy as well as balanced diet, including eating lots of colorful fruits as well as vegetables, whole grains as well as adequate amounts of high quality protein including dairy, meat, fish, chicken as well as eggs, most athletes could get everything of which they needed for both training as well as competing by their diet without turning to supplementation.

Yes, you can run a half-marathon after knee as well as back injuries
The only exceptions were inside case of vitamin D or iron deficiency, both of which can impair performance as well as often require supplements to restore normal levels inside body. On the various other hand, studies of high dose vitamin C as well as E supplementation suggest of which they can actually diminish a person’s response to training, so you are much better off getting those antioxidants — which are important for both training as well as recovery — by food.


For protein intake, Broad recommended 1.2 to 1.7 g/kg per day (higher than the recommended daily intake of 0.8 g/kg for the average person) to help with recovery as well as adaptation to training which includes muscle, blood vessel as well as red blood cell development. She emphasized the importance of distributing protein evenly throughout the day, including at least 20 to 25 grams of protein at breakfast, lunch as well as dinner as well as within two hours after training.

Jose Antonio, founder of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, recommends even higher levels (up to 2.2 g/kg to optimize recovery) because, he explained, slightly higher levels of protein can be especially beneficial in athletes looking to improve their body composition (lose fat as well as gain muscle) since protein tends to be more filling.

Do you need to eat more protein?

However Antonio as well as Broad agree of which training will be not the time for strict dieting or calorie cutting, which can impair both training as well as recovery. They also recommend whey protein as a Great choice if you find This specific more convenient to add in a protein supplement to meet your daily protein needs. Whey protein contains all of the essential amino acids (building blocks of protein) including leucine, which will be especially beneficial for stimulating muscle growth.

Regarding the ketogenic diet (low carb, high fat), both Broad as well as Antonio were not fans. Broad explained of which despite the argument of which low carb, high fat diets increase the use of fat for fuel during exercise, which seems like a Great thing since we all have a lot more stored fat than stored carbohydrates, This specific type of diet will be actually detrimental to mental function, immune function, as well as offers no performance benefits. In fact, a 2017 study showed impaired performance among elite race walkers following a low carb, high fat diet.

Food as well as drink during the race

When This specific comes to eating as well as drinking during training as well as races, both Broad as well as Antonio emphasize the importance of trying out different fueling as well as hydrating approaches during training to assess your tolerance as well as performance benefits. This specific also trains your gut to get used to digesting during exercise.

Some sports drinks as well as carbohydrate/electrolyte products such as gels as well as gummies can be a little rough on your digestive system if you aren’t used to them, as well as different products contain varying concentrations as well as types of carbohydrates as well as electrolytes, so take some time to figure out your individual preferences as well as needs.

What of which energy drink can do to your body

If you are training or competing for less than an hour, as long as you have a balanced pre-race meal a few hours beforehand, water will be the only thing you need during the workout or race. For sessions or an event longer than 0 minutes, This specific will be important to take in carbohydrates, 30 to 60 grams per hour, inside form of food or supplements to replenish your muscle glycogen stores (sugar stored in your muscles). Glycogen stores are specific to each muscle group, so even if your overall stores of glycogen are high, you can still run out in specific muscles if you don’t take in carbs during longer sessions.


Salt (sodium) supplementation will be also important to maintain both mental as well as physical performance if you sweat a lot or are training or competing in hot weather. According to Broad, there are lots of recipes online to make your own sports drink if you want to customize both the taste as well as the composition (in addition to saving money). Taste buds change during exercise, she explained, as well as many people find commercial sports products too sweet.


In terms of performance enhancement for endurance exercise, the only proven supplement will be caffeine, which most Olympic endurance athletes use regularly, according to Broad. A 2018 review paper confirms a smaller yet significant effect of 3 to 6 mg/kg of caffeine, yet individual tolerance as well as response varies so This specific will be important to test This specific out during training if you plan to use caffeine during competition. Broad recommends 1.5 to 6 mg/kg taken one hour before the start of your race, as well as for longer events, you can take a second, smaller dose about halfway through your 25-mile bike ride (for an Olympic distance triathlon) to give This specific enough time to kick in during the run.
Why you should drink coffee before a workout
A 2013 study found of which both coffee as well as caffeine supplements are equally effective, yet if you want to make sure to get the correct dose, you are probably better off taking a supplement, according to Broad, as the caffeine level in coffee can vary. Some gels contain caffeine, if you want to try This specific strategy before or during the race. You can take a caffeine tablet if you don’t use gels.


Some athletes utilize beetroot juice, which increases levels of nitric oxide, a gas of which can help increase blood flow, oxygen uptake efficiency as well as power. A 2017 review showed contradictory findings, yet overall the authors concluded of which This specific may have benefits in endurance athletes. yet some research suggests This specific may be negated by caffeine, so the jury will be still out on This specific supplement. Antonio believes inside benefits, yet finds the taste terrible. Broad will be not convinced, as well as explained of which eating spinach as well as beets, both Great sources of nitrates (which turn into nitric oxide), likely makes This specific supplement unnecessary.

The rest

There are a few various other supplements — probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin, tart cherry juice as well as gelatin — of which may provide some benefits in overall health as well as recovery. yet supplements are not as carefully regulated as drugs as well as quality as well as dosing can vary considerably.

So, food first, along with adequate water intake, will be without a doubt your best bet when This specific comes to improving endurance performance as well as overall health.

Dr. Melina Jampolis will be an internist as well as board-certified physician nutrition specialist as well as author of several books, including “Spice Up, Slim Down.”

Source : Food, supplements as well as a first triathlon