Essential Sports Nutrition


M2M expert night wrap-up: The role of sport nutrition in a healthy diet

I couldn't be more excited to support and promote our local half ironman distance triathlon, here in Greenville, SC. Mountains to Mainstreet (M2M) is not just a triathlon event but a full festival weekend of events, with a 1K, 5K and half marathon on Saturday, followed by the half ironman distance triathlon (and relay/aquabike) on Sunday.

For a limited time, you can use the discount code tri35 to receive a $35 off discount code for the event. We hope to see you there and we can't wait for you to enjoy our gem of a triathlon playground, here in beautiful Greenville, SC.

For more info about the event:
Mountains to Mainstreet

In conjunction with the event, the M2M team is bringing together the triathlon community with a series of educational talks on all things triathlon - nutrition, swim, bike, run, injuries, race preparation, etc. I just love our triathlon/cycling/running community here in Greenville and I could not be more proud and excited to be a triathlete, living here in Greenville, SC. 

Earlier this week, I spoke alongside two other experts in the community for the first community expert night. I was joined by Dr. Kyle Cassas, Orthopedic Sports Medicine Doctor with the Steadman Hawkins group and Scott Kaylor, Physical Therapist at ATI sports therapy. It was an honor to speak alongside these experienced and knowledgeable experts and I feel we each brought something beneficial to the triathlon community as it relates to helping endurance triathletes safely and effectively prepare for an upcoming triathlon event. 

My talk focused on the importance of sport nutrition and daily nutrition planning for athletes but specifically, I educated the group on the role of sport nutrition in a healthy athlete diet. I thought it would be beneficial to share some of the nuggets of information that I provided the group, to ensure that you don't miss out on the health and performance benefits of proper fueling and eating in your endurance sport lifestyle. 

  • It doesn’t matter what type of education that you have or your fitness level, proper nutrition is critical for optimizing performance and for keeping the body functioning well.
  • For almost every athlete, there’s going to be a point your athletic development when your daily diet will no longer give you all the energy that you need to prepare for your upcoming athletic event. You may even get sick, injured or burnout if you don't adjust your current style of eating. In order to help your body safely continue to adapt to training stress, you will eventually have to take in some type of supplemental form of energy during your workout in order to meet the training demands that you place on your body.

  • Nutrition advice is very conflicting and confusing but it's critical that you understand and accept that sport nutrition products can fit in with a healthy diet.

  • Sport nutrition products are often linked together with sugar loaded foods, like processed foods, candy bars and junk food. Although sport nutrition products do contain sugar, these engineered products are formulated in a way to provide your body with a specific amount of carbohydrates, electrolytes and fluids to be properly digested and absorbed during exercise. In
    other words, these products are just as convenient as they are functional. 

  • The reason why there are so many sport nutrition products on the market is because these products are designed to be used by athletes, dependent on sport, during intense and long workouts in order to help you properly adapt to training stress and to keep your body systems functioning well.

  • Sport nutrition has a specific application, in which these products are designed to be used during intense and long workouts. In other words, if you are eating raisins, a banana and almonds during a long bike training session but eating a sport bar and sipping on an energy drink at work at 3pm in the afternoon, you are missing the application focus of sport nutrition and where it fits in with a healthy diet.

  • Athletes should prioritize a real food diet throughout the day so that sport nutrition can be well tolerated during training.

  • As it relates to the daily diet, your eating should always be well organized and planned. You will constantly feel like you can't "eat right" if your food choices just randomly happen.

  • As a sport dietitian, I always consider an athlete’s unique situation when developing a solid foundation of eating and fueling. Every athlete comes from a different athletic background, with different dietary needs, a learned relationship with food and the body, training regime and body composition needs, that will all impact what type of nutrition guidance will work best in your individual situation.

  • Every athlete can agree that triathlon training and recovery are enhanced by paying close attention to the daily diet. As an endurance triathlete, you need to meet specific daily nutritional needs to support your training. This nutrition planning should not start a few weeks out from your big race but instead, when you start your training after the off-season. As training demands shift during the year, you will need to adjust your eating style, caloric intake and macronutrient distribution, while still maintaining a high nutrient dense diet to support your health and athletic needs.

  • As for finding the best sport nutrition product, I am a big proponent of powder sport drinks because they are easy to adjust to your unique needs and they make fueling and hydration incredibly easy as you can monitor your intake and also meet your fluid, electrolyte, calorie and carbohydrate needs all in one bottle. Because most sport nutrition powders tell you how to mix your drink into water, this is helping you create the perfect osmolality of the drink to be suitable for gastric emptying. To avoid those awful and annoying GI issues on race day, not to mention how scary and unhealthy it is for the body to experience dehydration and bonking, it’s important that whatever you consume on the bike and run for “fuel” that those products are easily digested from the stomach and absorbed from the small intestines. There's not point taking in nutrition/fuel if those products are just sitting in your gut as you are training/racing.

  • The sport of triathlon is fun, challenging, confidence and skill building and above all, it can enrich the life to make a person a better human being. But sadly, there are far too many athletes who are abusing this three-sport lifestyle in an effort to simply lose weight. If you feel like you are using triathlon training as a punishment for eating "too" much, for being “too" fat or for earning something to eat that is “off limit” in the diet, consider if your unhealthy thoughts about food and the body are helping you become a better triathlete, and above all, keeping your body in good health. Since I specialize in working with athletes who suffer from disordered eating and body image issues, I’m sensitive to the fact that many triathletes do justify their extreme triathlon lifestyle with excessive exercise and restricting energy and sport nutrition in the diet, due to body image issues. Far too many age groupers are manipulating training and the diet for “weight control” versus learning how to eat well and use sport nutrition properly in order to adapt well to training and to properly prepare for race day.

  • As a triathlete, it is important to always ask yourself if you are eating "enough", organizing the diet to support your training and timing your nutrition well with your workouts. I am extremely passionate about helping athletes improve nutrition and fueling habits, but I am also dedicated to helping athletes improve healthy living strategies to create athletic excellence while keeping the body in good health.

  • For most athletes, working with a sport dietitian to help you structure the daily diet to meet your unique needs and to learn how to use sport nutrition properly, will be extremely advantageous to your performance and health. Having a trained professional will take the guessing away from what, how much and when to eat, so that you can put your energy into your training, meal planning, work and family life.