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.


Kona Edge Podcast - 4 more episodes talking nutrition, swim, bike, run!

A few months ago, I was interviewed by Brad Brown with The Kona Edge podcast. Over the past 11 years, I have had a lot of successes in the sport of triathlon and well, many great learning lessons. Brad gave me the opportunity to share some of the mistakes I've made over the years and to profile some of the highlights in my endurance triathlon journey.

If you missed the first podcast, you can listen HERE. 

But we didn't stop there!

You can now listen to four more podcasts where I talk more specifically about nutrition, swimming, biking and running. Enjoy!


Did you hear the news? Three new CLIF BLOKS energy chew flavors!

Not too long ago, Clif Bar released 3 new flavors of CLIF BLOKS energy chews. These chews provide quick, chewable energy for athletes in training and on race day.

The new flavors include Salted Watermelon (2x sodium), Ginger Ale and Spearmint. This now brings the CLIF BLOKS collection to 11 flavors. Each chew still contains 30-33 calories and there are 6 BLOKS per sleeve of chews. One serving size is 3 chews. All of the CLIF BLOKS include 95% organic ingredients and depending on the flavor, contain between 50-100 mg sodium per serving and 0-25-50mg of caffeine.

Clif Bar sent me the new flavors to try out but I wanted to use this blog post as an opportunity to introduce you to the new flavors to help you decide on the best flavor for your fueling and tastebud needs.

Salted Watermelon - For the watermelon lovers, this tastes just like you would imagine - watermelonly delicious. It is sweet but it does have a subtle saltiness to it. Each serving (3 chews) contains 100 mg of sodium which is 2x the sodium found in the other BLOK flavors (except the Margarita flavor). 
Here are the ingredients:
Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Maltodextrin, Pectin, Citric Acid, Watermelon Extract with Other Natural Flavors, Sea Salt, Potassium Citrate, Colored with Organic Black Carrot Juice Concentrate, Organic Sunflower Oil, Carnauba Wax.

While I can imagine that athletes will crave and enjoy the salted watermelon flavor on a hot summer day of training/racing (along with a few gulps of ice cold water), there are actually some health benefits to watermelon. Now I'm not saying to chew on CLIF BLOKS to improve your overall health but I thought it would be good for you to know that watermelon, although high in natural sugar and water (making it oh-so-refreshing in the summer), has high amounts of antioxidants, vitamin A, B6 and vitamin C. It is also rich in lycopene so the redder the watermelon, the more lycopene. As for watermelon extract, found in the CLIF BLOK Salted Watermelon flavor, research has shown it to be helpful for blood pressure control.

Ginger Ale - For those who just love a nice cold glass of Ginger Ale, or remember drinking it when you had an upset tummy as a child, the CLIF BLOK Ginger Ale flavor is not super strong. So this may be a let-down for those who absolutely love the taste of ginger but great for those who want to receive some of the benefits of consuming ginger oil during training. While I can't promise that you are getting a large amount of ginger oil with every blok, research does show that ginger has great effectiveness in reducing GI complaints, also helping with nausea and vomiting. As a sport RD, I don't feel that a CLIF BLOK Ginger Ale flavor will prevent GI issues in training/racing (especially since a concentrated dose of sugar especially without adequate water to promote digestion will increase risk for GI issues when training/racing), I do believe that those who enjoy a subtle flavor of calories, will enjoy this blok option.
Here are the ingredients:
Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Maltodextrin, Pectin, Citric Acid, Ginger Oil, Natural Flavor, Potassium Citrate, Sea Salt, Organic Sunflower Oil, Carnauba Wax.

Spearmint - You may be cringing at the thought of chewing on a spearmint flavor energy chew but consider many times have you been out training during a long workout (or long distance race) and you find yourself wishing you could brush your teeth or cleanse your mouth with a mint or mouthwash? Well, believe me when I say that the spearmint flavor will do just that! Both me and Karel found it incredibly refreshing (Karel says this one is his fav). You almost want to try to blow a bubble with it, it tastes so cool and refreshing!
Here are the ingredients:
Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Maltodextrin, Pectin, Citric Acid, Spearmint Oil with Other Natural Flavors, Potassium Citrate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Sea Salt, Organic Sunflower Oil, Carnauba Wax.
With some recent research on the benefits of peppermint oil and athletic performance, you may be surprised to see the flavor of spearmint instead, but it's important to recognize that spearmint does not contain menthol, which makes it a bit less "bold" of a flavor which may be a little more gentle on the taste buds. But who knows, maybe one day they will make a peppermint flavor to cool off the mouth?
Although I could not come across any recent well-documented research studies on the benefits of Spearmint oil, you have likely heard that Spearmint essential oil may reduce fatigue and pain, help with digestive issues, help with muscle aches and ease headaches.

Well, there you have it - my sport RD/endurance triathlete take on the three new CLIF BLOK flavors. I always enjoy trying out new sport nutrition products, specifically powders, chews and gels (I'm not a pill/tablet type of athlete).

As for my feelings on sport nutrition products, it's all about function and convenience. You don't need to love your engineered products but you have to like them enough to consistently use them during intense and long workouts to help you maximize fitness and to build confidence in your race day fueling and hydration strategy.

Sport nutrition products make fueling incredibly easy as they take the guessing and calculating away from how much you need to consume of calories, carbohydrates, water and sodium each hour and they make it easy to meet your metabolic needs as you can quantify the consumption of your nutrition, in frequent intervals, during training and on race day. Plus, with a little creativity, you can prevent taste bud fatigue by changing up the flavors and textures of your sport nutrition products as there are so many safe and well-formulated products available to athletes. Sport nutrition products are also formulated in a way to be easy to digest IF/WHEN consumed properly.

As for when you are not training? Real, whole foods should make up the majority of your diet. When your heart is pumping and blood is being diverted away from the gut and to the working muscles to support muscle contractions, your body prefers to digest and absorb engineered products as they are formulated in a way to meet your needs and to be consumed quickly. But when you aren't working out, reach for real food as mother Earth has a variety of great food options, rich in the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that keep your body functioning well on a day-to-day basis. A well-nourished body performs incredibly well during training/racing and with an organized, balanced and wholesome diet, it's much easier to better understand your fueling and hydration requirements during training and on race day.

Any questions about sport nutrition and fueling/hydration? Reach out to a sport dietitian for help.

Fuel Smart!
Your body will thank you. 


Trimarni Greenville Skills Camp Info (and a free camp entry giveaway!)

In case you haven't heard, we have a little gem of a triathlon training playground here in Greenville. 

Although it's no longer a well kept secret as I am no stranger to sharing pictures of us training in and around the mountains, surrounded by nature, the Greenville community embraces cycling and physical activity. People love riding bikes in Greenville, we have a number of beautiful state parks and hiking trials and the Swamp Rabbit Trail is perfect for active families for walking, running and biking. 

We have an award winning (dog-friendly) downtown and Falls Park is absolutely breathtaking. When you come to Greenville, you will experience amazing mountain views, delicious farm-to-table restaurants and very friendly people. And we have Mr. Lama - a lama who loves cyclists and selfies. 

We have received many requests over the past few years regarding the need for a skills camp. We listened to you and responded with our first ever Greenville triathlon skills camp this May. 

Greenville Skills Camp
Quick Facts
Location: Greenville, SC 
Type of camp: Skill-focused triathlon camp
Length of camp: 2.5 days
Dates: May 26-28th
Cost: $350 (price increase on 2/26 to $440)
When triathletes hear skills camp, they may think "beginner" camp. Sure, athletes who are new to the sport of triathlon will greatly benefit from attending a skills camp. But from our experience as coaches, we have discovered that many experienced triathletes and those who have been in the sport for many, many years have created bad habits over the years, have neglected the importance of fine-tuning skills as fitness progresses and/or have not kept up with current trends and strategies to train smarter.

Skill areas that we commonly focus on at our camps include:

Swimming technique, open water skills, bike handling skills (climbing, descending, cornering, riding safely in a group, anticipating terrain changes), bike pacing, running skills (climbing hills, running downhills, proper form, running off the bike tips), running execution off the bike, triathlon training and racing tips, how to use gadgets properly, mental skills training, equipment choices (where to spend your money), sport nutrition and daily nutrition. 

Our Greenville skills camp is designed to provide triathletes of all fitness levels with hands-on opportunities to develop the basic and most necessary skills to experience success, improve overall safety and health and to build confidence in the sport of triathlon. Our goal is to help triathletes break bad habits and integrate new swim, bike and run skills into current triathlon training in order to reduce risk for injury/health issues, to improve your fitness and to improve your confidence as a developing triathlete.

If you want to get faster, stronger and better as a triathlete, it's important to become more skillful as a triathlete. 

From our experience in working with athletes of all levels, every triathlete has A LOT of room for improvement. Instead of training harder or adding more intensity or volume to your training in order to get faster, we want to help triathletes learn how to train and race smarter. 

By improving your triathlon skills in a safe, supportive and educational environment with two experienced triathlon coaches, you can train more confidently, reduce risk for injury by improving economy, feel safer as a cyclist on the road, and finally experience those big performance gains that you have been working so hard to achieve. 
To learn more or to sign-up, click HERE.


For the triathletes who live in and around the Greenville area, in conjunction with the Trek Store South Carolinawe are going to give away a scholarship to our May skills camp. The winner will not only receive a free ($350) entry into our skills camp but also a Bontrager road bike helmet and training kit. 

In order to be eligible to win:

  • You must be a member of the Trek Women South Carolina group.
  • Attend at least two rides or events from the group from now until May. 
  • Follow TriMarni and the Trek Store on Facebook. 

Content entries are open NOW by filling out this Google Form and will close on March 1st. Winners will be notified by March 6. 

If you are in the area, come join us on Thursday February 23rd from 6:30-8pm at the Trek Store South Carolina for ladies night. I will be speaking about nutrition and there will be other presenters and activities to improve your knowledge, safety and fun on two wheels.

For more info on the Trek ladies night: Click HERE.

For more info on our camps: Click HERE