If you’re a die-hard triathlete, you monitor everything you do with a vengeance – from what you eat and how much you sleep, to how many times you need to use the washroom.
And then comes off season – or is it really “off”?
Think of winter as the season you need to prepare yourself and your body for the next round of hard training and sacrifice – so off season is more like prep season. We know how hard it can be to really regulate your diet during off season, especially with holiday celebrations and feasts that accompany cold weather.
So we’ve put together a few vital tips on how to manage triathlete nutrition while allowing yourself some treats.
- Keep a Food Log
As your body gets accustomed to lower levels of activity than it’s normally used to, and your dietary habits change, you must keep a tab on what you eat. Lower levels of physical activity will mean that your calorie intake also needs to go down.
According to Katie Rhodes, owner of OWN-Nutrition, “Expending less energy, as a result of a reduction in work load, decreases calorie needs and changes macronutrient distribution utilization. Although this sounds simple, finding your “new normal” can be difficult to pinpoint.”
Keeping a food log will help you find your new normal, just as it did during peak training season. It will take a while for your body to adapt to the new regime so – take it slow and try to be aware of the changes your body is going through.
- Eat Everything but Eat Quality
According to Matt Fitzgerald, author of The Endurance Diet, going with fad diets (and there seems to be a new one every other week!) isn’t going to help you maximize your performance. He suggests that you don’t restrict yourself categorically when it comes to food but to make sure that everything you eat is high quality.
For example, don’t cut out carbs completely but make sure the carbohydrates you are consuming are high quality like the ones naturally occurring in fruits as opposed to those in refined sugars.
- Approach Parties with a Plan
As a triathlete you are used to having a plan for the big event days. Go to parties and celebrations the same way. Trust us, when the training season starts you’ll be glad you did.
Have a healthy snack before you go. Fruits or healthy proteins are normally a good bet. That way you will not be overly hungry while at the party and you would be able to choose what you eat there more rationally.
At the party, choose the healthiest options available to you and eat them in moderation. If it’s a buffet, you might want to have a couple of small portions of food over a few hours instead of piling your plate up. Make sure your stay hydrated and drink at least two glasses of water for every glass of alcohol you allow yourself. And don’t forget to have fun, your friends and family are definitely going to be glad to see you relaxing after all the training you’ve done the past many months.
- Moderation is Key
The size of portions is almost as important as what you eat. Your brain can take up to 20 minutes to realize you are full. So eat slowly, listen to your body, and stop eating when you know you ought to. It is certainly more important that the ‘clear your plate’ maxim that most of us were brought up with.
This is the season to indulge yourself and enjoy all those things you’ve denied yourself all year round. This may sound contrary to what you’ve read so far but as Fitzgerald says, restrictive diets “breed unhappy eaters”. So allow yourself a piece of chocolate cake, that mug of beer or some fries – but in moderation. Instead of finishing that packet of cookies in one sitting, restrict yourself to one or two at a time.
Triathlon off season is a great time to experiment with your nutrition to see what works best for your body, without having to worry a lot about repercussions like stomach upsets during training or bathroom breaks while racing. However, always remember to consult a professional nutritionist when making drastic changes.
Long winter evenings are also a great time to check out some new gear while soothing your pizza cravings. At Just Wetsuits, we understand you need it. Email us if you need help with triathlete wetsuits and triathlon gear, or call us at 1-877-784-7808. Have a wonderful holiday season!