Nutrition Tips for Training

In the previous article about current thinking [1] on the composition & quantities of macronutrients needed by athletes we learnt that macros are made up of carbohydrates, proteins and fats and we need to eat these in large amounts to fuel, maintain and repair our bodies.

We also need micronutrients, these are vitamins and minerals which are needed in smaller amounts to enable the body to function properly. 

If you fill your plate with as many colours as possible you should be getting a good variety.

I’ve put together a food diary of a typical triathlete to try and illustrate what could be eaten to support optimum performance.

You are an individual and will more than likely have different tastes to me, but essentially you can just swap the meals to include foods of your choice as long as they provide similar amounts of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

You may not enjoy or be able to stomach fuelling with gels and bars during training and it’s fine to substitute these with real food alternatives, but be mindful when it comes to race day you’ll need to be able to use the food you’ve been training with. 

During training is the only time to test out what works best for you, not race day!

A possible Sunday in the life of a triathlete might look like this…


Wake up

Pre-swim snack

Half/whole banana & small handful nuts or Skyr low fat yogurt.

Glass of water & cup of coffee


Swim 1hr

Bottle of water



Poached eggs on wholemeal toast or porridge with fruit & seeds

Glass of water & cup of coffee


Bike Ride 2-3hrs

Fuel during the ride – exercise specific gels/chews/bars or homemade alternatives e.g. homemade bars or sandwiches, cut up into bite size pieces.

x2 bottles of water or energy drink as required


Post Bike Recovery

Before you prepare lunch have a recovery shake, protein packed smoothie or high protein yogurt



Wholemeal Pittas with Chicken/Tuna/Feta Cheese or a protein alternative with Salad

Glass of water



Large handful of nuts/peanut butter on small slice of wholemeal toast or crisp bread plus some fruit

Glass of water



Chicken & Prawn Paella or Salmon with roast vegetables & potatoes or Vegetable curry & wholemeal basmati rice

Glass of water


Pre-bedtime Snack

30 minutes or so before bed have a small protein based snack

Fat free hot chocolate with handful almonds/Low fat skyr yogurt/hummus and carrots/protein drink

How much you eat will depend on your weight and activity level.

It’s important to ensure you are eating enough to support your training and recovery.

In the next article I will look more closely at a specific meal and break it down into carbohydrate, protein and fat quantities.

About the Author

Tina Peck holds a VTCT Level 3 Award in Nutrition for Physical Activity, plus Nutrition & Weight Management (Accredited by AFN)

Tina is an Ironman Certified Triathlon Coach, Training Peaks Certified Coach and British Triathlon Federation Diploma Qualified Coach



Categories: Nutrition