Nutrition was never something I particularly worried about until getting involved in triathlon and seeing just how important it is to fuel your body correctly so you can perform at your best. Especially since turning vegetarian at the start of 2019, I have to think much more about what I eat to make sure I get all the nutrients, protein and carbohydrates needed to get onto the steps of the podium.
Most days for breakfast I’ll have oats; I love oats and they are such a great source of energy and protein and I find they keep me going through any morning workout. My normal mix will be around 1 ½ cup of oats, a couple tablespoons of yogurt, a tablespoon of peanut butter, then some flax seed, hemp seeds and finally a decent splash of soy milk to add some extra protein and stop it being too dry.
Quite often this will be some left-overs from the night before (being vegetarian is the best for reheating things), or if I’ve had a big workout then a favourite go-to of mine is scrambled eggs (3 is the magic number) then some granary toast and some spinach on top usually. Simple, but a good amount of protein and carbs to refuel.
Probably the best thing about triathlon is the amount you can eat and I love a good snack. Most days I will make some form of protein smoothie, quite often with lunch if it’s been a big morning of training or as a mid-afternoon snack. Usually, this will consist of 1 scoop of protein powder (vanilla is my preferred choice), a banana, a handful of blueberries or similar, then half water and half soy milk to top it off. My other go-to snack is always peanut butter on toast.
I try to vary my dinners most evenings but I always make sure to get a decent amount of protein, carbohydrate and some fats so that my body can recover from the day's training. A simple but effective dish is roasted cherry tomatoes with garlic, mozzarella and pine nuts on top of some edamame pasta (which is extremely high in protein).
About the author: Sam Hudson is a triathlete and Sundried ambassador.
Ian Seeney is a corporate pilot which means traveling a lot for work on top of triathlon training and keeping up with good nutrition. He explains how he maintains a good diet and what foods he eats to fuel his training sessions.
Vegan smoothie with spinach, carrots, banana, frozen mangoes, frozen strawberries and oats or a vegan breakfast burrito and usually 2 cups of coffee with soy milk.
I try to make this my biggest meal of the day and it’s usually post-workout. Usually a veggie burger in whole wheat bread and a salad. I also like vegan hot dogs, and vegan burritos.
Vegetables and hummus.
This usually varies, but always vegan. Usually soy nuggets from Whole Foods, or pasta with vegan sausage, or vegan tacos. Pasta is big in our house so we prepare it in a variety of ways. My wife and I are also very in to wine, so a glass of red with dinner a few times a week is not out of the question.
Right after a work-out I drink an 8 oz glass of chocolate pea milk. I prefer to work out in the morning after breakfast.
In addition to all of that, I aim for drinking 100 oz or more of water every day.
This is my usual diet when I am at home and not traveling for work. I have a rather unique job as a corporate pilot so I travel a lot and travel all over the world. Since it’s a private aircraft, we get made-to-order catering for every flight which makes it pretty easy to sustain a plant-based lifestyle.
Plus, especially in the UK, I’ve found it’s way easier to stick to a plant-based lifestyle when eating out. Much more so than in the U.S. Being that we travel across multiple time zones at all times of day or night, when I’m at work it’s mostly a routine of eat when I’m hungry and sleep when I’m tired.
Vanessa is an Australian ultra runner who follows a plant-based diet. She runs long distance races and recently achieved 3rd female overall at the Hume & Hovell 50km ultra trail run. She tells us what she eats to fuel her big training runs and keep her in fighting form for competing over such long distances.
5:30am – Pre-Workout
2 Medjool dates
Hot drink (1 tsp cocoa, ½ tsp instant coffee, 1 tsp coconut sugar, hot water)
6am – Workout
1-2 hour run (no nutrition or water during) on most days
Pilates, yoga and/or walk on rest days (with no coffee on rest days)
8.30am – Breakfast
A variety of cooked and raw vegetables as a salad when the weather is warm, with a small piece of fruit after if I want something sweet.
When it’s a cold day I’ll have 3 x gluten-free Weetabix with 1 tsp cocoa, 1 tbsp dried fruit and nuts, 2 tsp slippery elm powder and hot water stirred into a porridge consistency.
Mid-morning – Snack
I occasionally snack on carrot, celery, apple or orange and drink green tea if I am hungry.
Afternoon – Lunch
A variety of cooked and raw vegetables, legumes and rice or sweet potato as a curry, ratatouille, or salad. Afterwards I have berries or citrus if I want something sweet.
I occasionally snack on carrot, celery, apple, orange or Weetabix if I am hungry. Sometimes I have the same hot drink as breakfast around 3pm if I am training in the late afternoon or evening.
5pm – Workout
I do a training run if I didn’t do one in the morning, otherwise it's Pilates, yoga, a walk or Barre class most days.
My dinner is the same sort of thing as lunch: a rainbow of vegetables, greens, rice and legumes most days. Lots of fresh home-grown or market produce, fresh herbs and spices and quick home-made salsa, sauces, pickles, chutneys and dressings. We don’t use any oils for cooking or dressing in our house and my meals are low fat, high nutrients. I have fruit for dessert.
Sometimes in summer I’ll do a smoothie bowl for dinner instead. It’s like cutting straight to dessert!
Bed by 9pm for at least 7-8 hours sleep!
5.30am – Pre-Workout
2 Medjool dates and a couple of teaspoons of seeds or a date and nut bar or bliss ball
Hot drink (1 tsp cocoa, ½ tsp instant coffee, 2 tsp coconut sugar, hot water)
6am – Workout
Up to 7 hours run. My training fuel depends on the weather, but can include Tailwind, Medjool dates, date and nut bars, bliss balls, banana, orange, wholefood gels.
It depends on the time of day but ranges from a variety of cooked and raw vegetables, legumes and rice as a Buddha Bowl, or gluten-free toast and jam with a weak soy cappuccino or soy banana smoothie and/or Tailwind Recovery Shake, or an Acai bowl.
I snack on fruit.
A variety of cooked and raw vegetables, legumes and rice or gluten-free pasta as a Buddha Bowl, curry or ratatouille. Medjool dates, smoothie bowl or bliss ball for dessert.
Bed by 8pm for at least 8-10 hours sleep!
About the author: Vanessa Cullen is a plant-based ultra runner from Australia and a Sundried ambassador.
Claire Steels is a world champion duathlete and works hard for her fantastic racing results. We take a look at what this elite athlete eats in a day to fuel her for her big events.
Banacakes (pancakes with banana)
I have been playing around with how to make this breakfast for a while and I think I have cracked it! The mix is made up of 1 banana mashed up with 2 eggs. Beat it all together and cook in a small frying pan. You can split the mixture to have lots of smaller pancakes and it is a little easier to cook too! I top with peanut butter as I'm a bit of an addict!
Pesto chicken wraps
I make these filling wraps with spinach, rocket, avocado and a bit mayonnaise. Lots of protein to keep me fuelled and vegetables for their health benefits.
Banana topped with sunflower seeds and honey
I have this almost daily! Sometimes as part of breakfast, sometimes as pudding, or sometimes just as a snack!
Racing in the morning! Pizza is my favourite pre-race meal! I love all of the training and racing that comes with being an elite athlete and a big part of that is because of all of the food I get to eat, and I have always been a huge pizza fan! For this meal, I opted for a pre-made pizza base and then added my own topping because I was feeling creative! I went for my own version of a Quattro: tomato puree base, pesto chicken (leftover from lunch), caramelised red onion, mushrooms, spinach, rocket, and parmesan cheese. It was amazing and the race went pretty well too!
As a triathlete, training for three sports means that sufficient fuelling becomes essential. Not only is it about getting the right nutrition in order to hit each session optimally, it is also about recovering sufficiently in between sessions.
I have also been a vegetarian for life, so managing protein consumption can sometimes present a challenge, especially during harder training blocks.
As I also work (I run a marketing business), my weekdays usually consist of lighter training, usually one or two sessions per day at no longer than 1 hour each. Weekends tend to involve longer training days with multiple sessions.
In this respect, I usually increase my protein consumption early on in the week to help my body recover from the increased output over the weekend. Mid-week tends to be lighter and lower in carbs, as my body doesn’t require as much fuel when training is reduced. Towards the end of the week, I increase carbs in preparation for the weekend’s training, and over the weekend, I tend to increase my calorie consumption to compensate for harder/longer training days.
What I Eat In A Day
6am – Coffee and usually a light pre-swim breakfast of 3 Nutribrex (gluten-free sorghum cereal) with a tablespoon of pecan butter, a handful of blueberries, and hazelnut milk, or homemade blueberry and almond bircher muesli.
6.30am – 2.5k-3.5k swim, usually either a focused drill session or a threshold set.
10am – I am usually in my client's office or in my own home office by this point so I will eat a banana and have another coffee to keep me alert for meetings.
12.30pm – I try to take a salad into work most days or if I'm at home I prepare one. Usually a base of dark leaves such as watercress, rocket and spinach, with plenty of fresh salad ingredients such as tomatoes, beetroot, cucumber, celery, and then usually some protein such as falafel, quinoa, lentils or hummus. I always have 2 squares of dark chocolate after lunch – guilty pleasure!
3pm – I’m usually hungry and need to fuel for my second session, so will often have something like rice cakes or oat cakes with seed butter and a piece of fruit. Usually also a herbal tea.
5pm – Indoor bike session on the turbo, usually hard intervals lasting one hour. I take a Nuun hydration tablet in my water as I tend to sweat a lot during these sessions.
6pm – Before I jump in the shower I will have an Active Edge Cherry Active sachet in water for recovery and also probably something like a CocoPro for an instant protein hit.
7pm – Dinner is usually something fairly quick and simple with lots of vegetables. My go-to dinner is stir fried vegetables and tofu in soy sauce (no rice or noodles) as it’s so easy to make and so rich in micronutrients.
7.30pm – I usually have a piece of fruit, something like a passionfruit, stirred into 0% fat Greek yoghurt maybe with a half teaspoon of turmeric or cinnamon.
8.30pm – I tend to have a hot drink, usually Amber Aminos from Aminoman. It contains all the necessary amino acid complex and herbal remedies to help improve recovery, reduce inflammation, boost energy and optimise performance.
9pm – I go to bed pretty early due to my busy days!
About the author: Amy Kilpin has qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships twice as well as representing GBR at the European and World Long Distance Championships.