Ten Nutrition Tips for the Traveling Triathlete

It’s Monday afternoon and your boss has just informed you, that despite your best efforts to excuse yourself from business travel plans, you’re going anyway.  Before you know it, you’re booked on the 6am flight across the country.  Panic sets in.  My workouts! How am I going to get those key workouts in?  Frantically, you call your coach and somehow, you manage to work out the details. Ok, run a while I’m there, before meetings, after meetings, try to work in a swim, find the local YMCA, got it.  We’re covered. 

Crisis… averted?  What about nutrition?  Oh yeah, got that covered too – grab a snack in the airport, mini bar in the hotel room, the conference must have lunch, and if all else fails – room service.  You work hard to devise a “plan B” training configuration, but no preemptive planning goes into nutrition.  Why should nutrition take the back seat? 

Traveling for work or play can throw a major wrench into ones healthy eating plan.  Not only are you jet lagged from waking at odd hours and adjusting to different time zones, but are simultaneously being exposed to airplanes germs.  A nutrition “plan B” can assist to keep you healthy, while meeting the demands of training, and managing your weight goals.  Here are a few tips to help keep you on track when travel plans get in the way:

  1. Pack non-perishable snacks in your carry on.  Apples, Builder Bars, Lara Bars, single serve peanut butter packs, nut mix, and turkey jerky to name a few.  Quick and easy go-to’s while sitting at the airport or mid flight.
  2. Consider bringing an insulated bag for toting items requiring refrigeration such as hard-boiled eggs or Greek yogurt.
  3. Tuna/salmon pouches are convenient additions to airport salads and conference bagels.  Stash a couple in your carry on as well as checked baggage for an extra dose of protein.  Best part of the pouch?  No can-opener needed!
  4. Instant oatmeal saves time and money.  For an easy post-workout breakfast, use the hotel-room coffee pot to boil water.
  5. Search the area for local restaurants or grocery stores, either within walking distance or accessible by public transportation.  Bonus if you’ve got yourself a rental car!
  6. Request a hotel room with a refrigerator for staple food items (Greek yogurt, baby carrots, salad greens, etc.) and leftovers.  Many hotels also have microwaves – just ask!
  7. Look at restaurant menus ahead of time to find items that fit into your plan.
  8. Bring sport fuels and recovery items along for the ride.  Don’t leave it up to chance to find the local bike shop.  Gels, drink mixes, and recovery powders can be easily stored in sandwich bags and sealed containers.
  9. If you’re going to be out of town for a few days, consider an extended-stay hotel with an in-room kitchen.
  10. Increase intake of antioxidant rich fruits and veggies while away – ward off the airplane germs and prevent illness when you’re immune systems takes a “travel hit”.  Grab an extra orange or two at the breakfast buffet.  Partake in the local cuisine, along with a side salad or vegetable of the day.  You can also pack a few antioxidant packets, such as Reboot, if you think you may lacking here while traveling.

Remember it is of equal importance to maintain a healthy immune system and stay on top of training/weight goals while traveling.  With the tips above, you should be well on your way to making better nutrition decisions when away from home.

Read Full Story

Food Logging: Is it a stress worth taking?

Logging your intake. I can’t tell you how important it is. The number one piece of advice I give to my athletes, regardless of if they are just starting out, or a seasoned triathlon veteran, is to start keeping track of what they eat! Even if you have (or think you have) control over nutrition, logging intake is a great learning tool. Besides tracking calories, one can monitor grams of carbohydrate, protein, fat, and fiber. All of which can make or break your training session, or race!

So here is a list of five things one can learn by keeping a detailed nutrition log (even for just a short period of time):

  1. Am I eating enough carbohydrates? Carbohydrates are your primary fuel sources as an athlete. You need to fuel, refuel, and recover with carbohydrates. How many carbs you need is dependent upon your activity level, intensity, and duration. Without adequate fuel stores your training will suffer. Track total grams of carbohydrate – aim for 5-7gm of carbohydrate per kg if participating in moderate-intensity exercise, 60 minutes per day. For 1-3 hours per day of moderate to high intensity endurance training, consume between 6-10gm of carbohydrate per kg. And for days ranging from 4-5 hours of training, 8-12gm of carbohydrate per kg.
  2. Am I eating often enough? Aim to eat every 2-3 hours. Important for nutrient timing and keeping hungry bellies at bay. Most online food journals are set up to track breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack (ONE snack – who are they kidding?). Under “settings”, change the name of “meals” to represent time frames (6-9am, 9-11am, etc). This will ensure you stay on top of nutrient timing throughout the day.
  3. Why do I consistently have GI discomfort during my afternoon run? Perhaps your go to pre-workout snack is too high in fat or fiber. The closer you are to a training session, the less protein, fat, and fiber you want in a meal or snack. So skip the high fiber bread smothered in peanut butter and opt for something easy to digest like a banana or handful of pretzels.
  4. Am I making the best choices to properly recover from my training sessions? I get it; you burned 2,000 calories during your last workout. So you can eat whatever you want, right? Wrong! Writing things down will make you THINK. First things first – within the first half hour following exercise, have a high glycemic, high carbohydrate fluid, containing a small amount of protein (chocolate milk or a recovery beverage) to quickly restore glycogen levels and aid muscle recovery (this becomes increasingly important the closer you are to your next workout). Next, focus on getting in some good quality carbohydrates (from fruits and veggies), and lean protein sources including low fat dairy. The healthy, good for you foods, rich in nutrients, fiber, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Sorry pizza, burgers, and fries, you’ll have to wait!
  5. Why did I bonk during my last workout? Keeping track of the sports nutrition products and fluids consumed during workouts may help to narrow down the reason why long workouts leave you feeling sluggish. Getting on a schedule of “snack” times during training, monitoring grams of carbohydrate and fluids consumed will pin point areas where changes need to be made. Also note levels of energy throughout training sessions, any GI discomfort, heart rate, and pacing – know how your body responds to prevent surprises on race day.

Tracking ones intake doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, many websites, such as MyFitnessPal offer an easy alternative to the old-fashioned pen and paper method of food journaling. You can even download apps to smart phones for ease of use – scan a bar code and voila! All the info you need loaded and accounted for – no math involved! You’ll want to be careful to select foods with full nutrition information and note portion size.

Online nutrition logs are a go to in my book; easy to use and a great educational tool. An excellent way to look at nutrition and the foods you consume from a different perspective. Learn what the foods you choose consist of – become a conscious food consumer and make better choices for improved workouts and health!

Read Full Story

The Triathlon Fueling Window

I continue to get asked by athletes and coaches about taking a lower carbohydrate approach to fueling long course events. This concept sounds great on the surface, like Total Immersion-style swimming in triathlon, but as you dig deeper, you discover its pitfalls. I’ll sum this concept up as “Metabolic Efficiency Training – By Nutrition Modification” (low carb approach). I add the nutrition modification piece, as training via proper intensity ranges provides “Metabolic Efficiency” without tinkering with nutrition and is a proven concept. In my mind, there are two major components to the low carb approach: training nutrition modification/impacts and race day modification/impact. The first I discussed in pretty good detail here as “Starvation Workouts” – and the second I’ll discuss in more detail here. I’ll preface this discussion with the experience QT2 has with race fueling. Each year we do about 300-400 detailed race fueling plans for athletes from around the world of all levels. We’ve been doing this for about seven years. I have personally done fueling plans for over 40 PROs (many of whom I don’t coach).

Read Full Story

Detoxing Your Holiday Toxins Away

As we spend the last day of 2013, I bet many people are pondering about the changes they will make in 2014, and they will surely include some sort of health goal. For some, it can be easy to wake up tomorrow and start off on the right foot. But for others, it can be daunting to take that big leap.

Although one of the big reasons the Core Diet is so successful (besides the fact that we focus on real, nutrient dense foods) is that it is realistic. We allow “windows” for those foods that are not on the top of the “eat this” list, as well as a non-Core meal every once in a while (determined by your RD). However, some individuals can go a bit overboard during the holidays!

Read Full Story

Running In Cold Weather: Why You Need To Do This

It’s hard for me to think about bundling up in layers for a run when its still in the 80’s down here in South Florida. But as I pack for my upcoming New England trip, I am reminded of the weather reports in the rest of the country. Snow is trickling down on branches, and runners are seeing their breath before the words “hello” come out of their mouths as they pass a local running buddy. It’s also hard for many to imagine that sweat loss is going to occur when you are about to endure a run in 35-degree weather. But guess what? You still need to hydrate!

Read Full Story

Spooky & Spicy Carrot Salad

Dress up your Autumn dish with this antioxidant packed vegetable! Last week I suggested a new seasonal dish if you were getting bored with your day to day meals, and this colorful salad can do the same thing! Many of us don’t enough raw veggies in our diet, and carrot sticks dipped in hummus can get very old… Try this as a snack or with any lunch or dinner!  It's perfect for this Halloween season! 

Read Full Story

Autumn Fun Recipe

Bring on the pumpkins, Autumn is officially here! Although the days are getting shorter and the weather cooler, many of you have not yet reached the end of your triathlon season. At this point in the game, you might be a bit tired of your day-to-day foods. This is the perfect time to bring out those “hearty” meals that are still packed with good nutrients to ensure your body stays in peak condition.



Read Full Story

Your Tool Box For Health

People typically eat to satisfy hunger or because it tastes good. But food can serve another purpose. The substances in the foods that you eat can drive different physiological functions. In an effort to understand this, I like to envision the following analogy. Think of your body as a "tool box" and the foods you consume as the "tools". Your body uses the tools in the tool box to "tune it up" and help it run efficiently. So it is important, especially as an endurance athlete, to make sure your tool box is equipped with a large variety of useful tools! Just think, you can't repair a car if the only tools available in the tool box are a hammer and a screwdriver. You might need a wrench, crow bar, blow torch, several different sizes of screws, etc to fix the car.

Read Full Story

How to Hydrate While Running!

One of the many concerns I hear from my athletes is, “I can’t seem to drink while running, what is the best strategy?” The answer to that question is whatever way works for you is the best! The important aspect is just getting those fluids and electrolytes down, and to practice that method day in and day out.

Read Full Story

Hot Weather Running

When the weather gets hot, there are some basic hydration guidelines you should follow before, during and after your training sessions. However, when the summer months kick into high gear and the rise in temperature and humidity cause you to break out in a sweat the moment you walk out the door, it’s time to step up your hydration plan. Read on for some key points to consider during these summer scorchers:

Read Full Story

It’s Monday afternoon and your boss has just informed you, that despite your best efforts to excuse yourself from business travel plans, you’re going anyway.  Before you know it, you’re booked on the 6am flight across the country.  Panic sets in.  My workouts! How am I going to get those key workouts in?  Frantically, you call your coach and somehow, you manage to work out the details. Ok, run a while I’m there, before meetings, after meetings, try to work in a swim, find the local YMCA, got it.  We’re covered. 

Crisis… averted?  What about nutrition?  Oh yeah, got that covered too – grab a snack in the airport, mini bar in the hotel room, the conference must have lunch, and if all else fails – room service.  You work hard to devise a “plan B” training configuration, but no preemptive planning goes into nutrition.  Why should nutrition take the back seat? 

Traveling for work or play can throw a major wrench into ones healthy eating plan.  Not only are you jet lagged from waking at odd hours and adjusting to different time zones, but are simultaneously being exposed to airplanes germs.  A nutrition “plan B” can assist to keep you healthy, while meeting the demands of training, and managing your weight goals.  Here are a few tips to help keep you on track when travel plans get in the way:

  1. Pack non-perishable snacks in your carry on.  Apples, Builder Bars, Lara Bars, single serve peanut butter packs, nut mix, and turkey jerky to name a few.  Quick and easy go-to’s while sitting at the airport or mid flight.
  2. Consider bringing an insulated bag for toting items requiring refrigeration such as hard-boiled eggs or Greek yogurt.
  3. Tuna/salmon pouches are convenient additions to airport salads and conference bagels.  Stash a couple in your carry on as well as checked baggage for an extra dose of protein.  Best part of the pouch?  No can-opener needed!
  4. Instant oatmeal saves time and money.  For an easy post-workout breakfast, use the hotel-room coffee pot to boil water.
  5. Search the area for local restaurants or grocery stores, either within walking distance or accessible by public transportation.  Bonus if you’ve got yourself a rental car!
  6. Request a hotel room with a refrigerator for staple food items (Greek yogurt, baby carrots, salad greens, etc.) and leftovers.  Many hotels also have microwaves – just ask!
  7. Look at restaurant menus ahead of time to find items that fit into your plan.
  8. Bring sport fuels and recovery items along for the ride.  Don’t leave it up to chance to find the local bike shop.  Gels, drink mixes, and recovery powders can be easily stored in sandwich bags and sealed containers.
  9. If you’re going to be out of town for a few days, consider an extended-stay hotel with an in-room kitchen.
  10. Increase intake of antioxidant rich fruits and veggies while away – ward off the airplane germs and prevent illness when you’re immune systems takes a “travel hit”.  Grab an extra orange or two at the breakfast buffet.  Partake in the local cuisine, along with a side salad or vegetable of the day.  You can also pack a few antioxidant packets, such as Reboot, if you think you may lacking here while traveling.

Remember it is of equal importance to maintain a healthy immune system and stay on top of training/weight goals while traveling.  With the tips above, you should be well on your way to making better nutrition decisions when away from home.

Logging your intake. I can’t tell you how important it is. The number one piece of advice I give to my athletes, regardless of if they are just starting out, or a seasoned triathlon veteran, is to start keeping track of what they eat! Even if you have (or think you have) control over nutrition, logging intake is a great learning tool. Besides tracking calories, one can monitor grams of carbohydrate, protein, fat, and fiber. All of which can make or break your training session, or race!

So here is a list of five things one can learn by keeping a detailed nutrition log (even for just a short period of time):

  1. Am I eating enough carbohydrates? Carbohydrates are your primary fuel sources as an athlete. You need to fuel, refuel, and recover with carbohydrates. How many carbs you need is dependent upon your activity level, intensity, and duration. Without adequate fuel stores your training will suffer. Track total grams of carbohydrate – aim for 5-7gm of carbohydrate per kg if participating in moderate-intensity exercise, 60 minutes per day. For 1-3 hours per day of moderate to high intensity endurance training, consume between 6-10gm of carbohydrate per kg. And for days ranging from 4-5 hours of training, 8-12gm of carbohydrate per kg.
  2. Am I eating often enough? Aim to eat every 2-3 hours. Important for nutrient timing and keeping hungry bellies at bay. Most online food journals are set up to track breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack (ONE snack – who are they kidding?). Under “settings”, change the name of “meals” to represent time frames (6-9am, 9-11am, etc). This will ensure you stay on top of nutrient timing throughout the day.
  3. Why do I consistently have GI discomfort during my afternoon run? Perhaps your go to pre-workout snack is too high in fat or fiber. The closer you are to a training session, the less protein, fat, and fiber you want in a meal or snack. So skip the high fiber bread smothered in peanut butter and opt for something easy to digest like a banana or handful of pretzels.
  4. Am I making the best choices to properly recover from my training sessions? I get it; you burned 2,000 calories during your last workout. So you can eat whatever you want, right? Wrong! Writing things down will make you THINK. First things first – within the first half hour following exercise, have a high glycemic, high carbohydrate fluid, containing a small amount of protein (chocolate milk or a recovery beverage) to quickly restore glycogen levels and aid muscle recovery (this becomes increasingly important the closer you are to your next workout). Next, focus on getting in some good quality carbohydrates (from fruits and veggies), and lean protein sources including low fat dairy. The healthy, good for you foods, rich in nutrients, fiber, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Sorry pizza, burgers, and fries, you’ll have to wait!
  5. Why did I bonk during my last workout? Keeping track of the sports nutrition products and fluids consumed during workouts may help to narrow down the reason why long workouts leave you feeling sluggish. Getting on a schedule of “snack” times during training, monitoring grams of carbohydrate and fluids consumed will pin point areas where changes need to be made. Also note levels of energy throughout training sessions, any GI discomfort, heart rate, and pacing – know how your body responds to prevent surprises on race day.

Tracking ones intake doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, many websites, such as MyFitnessPal offer an easy alternative to the old-fashioned pen and paper method of food journaling. You can even download apps to smart phones for ease of use – scan a bar code and voila! All the info you need loaded and accounted for – no math involved! You’ll want to be careful to select foods with full nutrition information and note portion size.

Online nutrition logs are a go to in my book; easy to use and a great educational tool. An excellent way to look at nutrition and the foods you consume from a different perspective. Learn what the foods you choose consist of – become a conscious food consumer and make better choices for improved workouts and health!

I continue to get asked by athletes and coaches about taking a lower carbohydrate approach to fueling long course events. This concept sounds great on the surface, like Total Immersion-style swimming in triathlon, but as you dig deeper, you discover its pitfalls. I’ll sum this concept up as “Metabolic Efficiency Training – By Nutrition Modification” (low carb approach). I add the nutrition modification piece, as training via proper intensity ranges provides “Metabolic Efficiency” without tinkering with nutrition and is a proven concept. In my mind, there are two major components to the low carb approach: training nutrition modification/impacts and race day modification/impact. The first I discussed in pretty good detail here as “Starvation Workouts” – and the second I’ll discuss in more detail here. I’ll preface this discussion with the experience QT2 has with race fueling. Each year we do about 300-400 detailed race fueling plans for athletes from around the world of all levels. We’ve been doing this for about seven years. I have personally done fueling plans for over 40 PROs (many of whom I don’t coach).

As we spend the last day of 2013, I bet many people are pondering about the changes they will make in 2014, and they will surely include some sort of health goal. For some, it can be easy to wake up tomorrow and start off on the right foot. But for others, it can be daunting to take that big leap.

Although one of the big reasons the Core Diet is so successful (besides the fact that we focus on real, nutrient dense foods) is that it is realistic. We allow “windows” for those foods that are not on the top of the “eat this” list, as well as a non-Core meal every once in a while (determined by your RD). However, some individuals can go a bit overboard during the holidays!

It’s hard for me to think about bundling up in layers for a run when its still in the 80’s down here in South Florida. But as I pack for my upcoming New England trip, I am reminded of the weather reports in the rest of the country. Snow is trickling down on branches, and runners are seeing their breath before the words “hello” come out of their mouths as they pass a local running buddy. It’s also hard for many to imagine that sweat loss is going to occur when you are about to endure a run in 35-degree weather. But guess what? You still need to hydrate!

Dress up your Autumn dish with this antioxidant packed vegetable! Last week I suggested a new seasonal dish if you were getting bored with your day to day meals, and this colorful salad can do the same thing! Many of us don’t enough raw veggies in our diet, and carrot sticks dipped in hummus can get very old… Try this as a snack or with any lunch or dinner!  It's perfect for this Halloween season! 

Bring on the pumpkins, Autumn is officially here! Although the days are getting shorter and the weather cooler, many of you have not yet reached the end of your triathlon season. At this point in the game, you might be a bit tired of your day-to-day foods. This is the perfect time to bring out those “hearty” meals that are still packed with good nutrients to ensure your body stays in peak condition.



People typically eat to satisfy hunger or because it tastes good. But food can serve another purpose. The substances in the foods that you eat can drive different physiological functions. In an effort to understand this, I like to envision the following analogy. Think of your body as a "tool box" and the foods you consume as the "tools". Your body uses the tools in the tool box to "tune it up" and help it run efficiently. So it is important, especially as an endurance athlete, to make sure your tool box is equipped with a large variety of useful tools! Just think, you can't repair a car if the only tools available in the tool box are a hammer and a screwdriver. You might need a wrench, crow bar, blow torch, several different sizes of screws, etc to fix the car.

One of the many concerns I hear from my athletes is, “I can’t seem to drink while running, what is the best strategy?” The answer to that question is whatever way works for you is the best! The important aspect is just getting those fluids and electrolytes down, and to practice that method day in and day out.

When the weather gets hot, there are some basic hydration guidelines you should follow before, during and after your training sessions. However, when the summer months kick into high gear and the rise in temperature and humidity cause you to break out in a sweat the moment you walk out the door, it’s time to step up your hydration plan. Read on for some key points to consider during these summer scorchers:

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