Triathlon and nutrition – BirBes

Triathlon; It is an individual sport that combines swimming, cycling and running. Triathlon races at the Olympic Games take the form of swimming 1500 meters, cycling 40 km (kilometers) and running 10 km. The race, known as the Ironman Distance, consists of 3800 meters of swimming, 180 km of cycling and 42 km of running routes. The races range from 1 hour 50 minutes to 14 hours. For this reason, triathlon is an ultra-endurance sport that requires participants to show extra stamina. Maintaining endurance during this long period of racing is the most important requirement for athletes.

So what is this persistence?
Durability; It is a term that indicates how long a person can do a job without becoming tired, that is, the body’s resistance to fatigue. The top causes of fatigue when doing exercises longer than 30 minutes; Dehydration (lack of fluids) and lack of carbohydrates. So the two most important things athletes should look for in their diet are the amount / type of carbohydrates and fluid intake.

With triathletes, as with any athlete, the purpose of creating a nutrition plan is; Develop a nutritional plan that includes the elements necessary for muscle contractions to maximize tissue regeneration and oxygen transport, maintain adequate fluid and electrolyte balance, and regulate metabolic processes.

Carbohydrate consumption
Blood sugar and muscle glycogen are fuels that our bodies use for energy. People doing high-intensity training or competitive races may be at risk of muscle glycogen depletion due to the high pre-race consumption rate. Preparing for endurance sports.

Studies have shown that high muscle glycogen levels can improve performance (time to travel a predetermined distance) compared to low and normal glycogen levels in activities that last longer than 90 minutes.

Although the amount of carbohydrates that should be consumed daily varies depending on the athlete and activity, it is recommended on average at 5-12 g / kg, i.e. 60-65% of total energy. However, it would not be correct to use the logic of more carbohydrates and more energy. In a study, athletes were given a carbohydrate intake of 10-13 g / kg, but endurance performance did not increase.

Proteins are the building blocks of our body, although they are essential for everyone, whether sport or not, they are very important for athletes, especially endurance athletes. In the studies, the proportion of energy derived from the protein for triathletes should be> 900 kcal (kilocalories). Again, the same study says that protein breakdown decreases when proteins are ingested with carbohydrates.

Endurance athletes often avoid high-fat foods for fear of weight gain or loss of performance due to insufficient carbohydrate intake. However, fats are used as the primary source of energy during endurance sports or when carbohydrate availability is low. The fat intake should be sufficient to provide essential (not synthesized by the body) fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins. In general, diets should provide an average amount of energy from fat (20% to 25% of energy); However, there seems to be no health or performance benefit from consuming a diet with less than 15% of the energy in fat.

SiVI Consumption

Dehydration is one of the most important components of exercise performance. Triathletes should strive to reduce body mass loss to 1% of their body mass. As much as possible, fluid intake should begin slowly at the rate closest to sweating and 4 hours before the start of the competition.

American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), 2 hours before your workout at least It shows that 500ml of fluid intake provides the fluid needed to maintain optimal hydration (to meet water needs).

During competitions, cycling is the best way to drink fluids. In the event of events lasting several hours, hyponatremia (sodium deficiency) may develop due to sodium sweat loss and / or the ingestion of sodium-free fluids. To prevent hyponatremia, the sodium content (30-50 mmol / L) of the drink consumed by the athlete must be well adjusted.

Summarize The energy, carbohydrate and protein requirements of triathletes are much higher than normal due to long racing or training times. Triathletes should try to fill their glycogen stores while preparing for a competition; a high-carbohydrate meal 1 to 4 hours before the race will improve performance. At the same time, the necessary fluid and carbohydrate intake should be provided during the competition. In practice, sports drinks / gels are widely used to meet the carbohydrate and fluid needs of athletes, but more research is needed to ensure their safety.

Applegate, EA (1991). Nutritional Considerations.
Barrero, A., Erola, P. & Bescós, R. (2015). Energy balance of triathletes during an ultra-endurance event.
Jeukendrup, AE (2015, September). Nutrition for endurance sports: marathons, triathlons and racing bikes.

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