Essential Sports Nutrition


Making sense of sport nutrition advice

The best fitness routines and training strategies are only beneficial if your body is fueled properly. To help you optimize performance without disrupting health, realistic, effective and simple sports nutrition information, based on sound science, will help your body safely adapt to exercise.

Did you know that athletes have unique nutrition needs compared to the inactive? 
The interrelated roles of macro (carbs, protein and fat), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), water and electrolytes significantly impacts your metabolism during exercise. For example, low energy availability (not eating enough) can impair athletic performance as the body is unable to tolerate high quality training sessions and make favorable physiological adaptations to exercise. Reasons for being in a low energy available state often result from intentional restriction of nutrients (ex. dieting, body composition changes), lack of available food or unintentional restriction from not understanding how to increase energy intake (and time nutrition with training) to accommodate an increase in energy expenditure from an increased training load.

If an athlete continues to train in this low energy state as training advances, adverse effects can occur in terms of hormones (ex. estrogen, testosterone, cortisol), poor recovery, compromised bone health, decreased neuromuscular performance, fatigue and sickness. According to recent research, "
Low energy availability is the fundamental issue driving the multi-system dysfunction in the endocrine, metabolic, haematological, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, immunological and psychological systems in RED-S."

No single food (addition or elimination) will help boost your health, body composition or performance but instead, it’s the synergistic role of all the foods in your diet that affects the functioning of your body during exercise. And every athlete can create a unique diet that works for health, performance and body composition. If you are an athlete, making sense of how to eat for fuel, provide your body with optimal nutrients to optimize health and time nutrition with exercise is key.

As an example:
  • Water is needed to maintain body temperature, remove wastes and lubricate your joints. 
  • Carbohydrates provide energy for your muscles, maintain blood glucose levels and fuel the central nervous system.
  • Proteins are the building blocks of your muscles and help with rapid recovery.
  • Fat is an essential nutrient that provides energy while supporting body functions necessary for human health.
  • Vitamins and minerals optimize immune system health and provide the flame to metabolic reactions to help you turn food into energy during exercise. 
Food is your fuel. Eating should never cause anxiety, worry or frustration.  Busy schedules, dietary extremes, body composition concerns, misinformation, digestive issues, dislike for cooking, poor appetite and/or dietary confusion can make balancing energy intake to energy output rather difficult for athletes. Due to the intense demands of physical activity on your body, your diet should be nutritionally optimal in both quantity and quality. 

Far too much of the information available to athletes is packed with confusing and conflicting sport nutrition advice and strategies, often prescribing extreme practices or restrictive measures by "experts". If you are an athlete, coach or parent, my book Essential Sport Nutrition will help clear-up the confusion so athletes can take away the guessing and begin eating and fueling in a way to reach athletic excellence with a nutritionally-rich and performance-enhancing style of eating. I provide simple, easy-to-follow guidelines suitable for every type of athlete (fitness level and eating style).

If you currently have my book, if you could take a few minutes to leave an Amazon review for future readers/buyers, your feedback/response is greatly appreciated! 


Triathlon Tip Tuesday!


Trimarni Tathlon Tip - Tune-up Races

Athletes often describe races as A (high priority), B (middle priority) or C (low priority). This can be misleading. Does this mean that C races are not as important as A races and you'll only try hard in an A race? Instead, I suggest to look at your races as either key races (one or two a season) and tune-up races. In other words, the key races are your main focus. Everything is leading up to this one (or two) race. You expect to be at your best fitness and everything you've done prior is helping you execute at your best.  All of your other races are still important but they have a different focus and perhaps, different lead-up as it relates to preparation and fitness. A few tips for how to mentally approach a tune-up race:
  • Don't go into the race with expectations or pressure to hit certain goals/numbers. The best part of racing is actually racing - which means staying present and letting the outcome take care of itself. 
  • Practice as if it was a key race - nutrition, gear, pacing, clothing. Don't be afraid to try new things. 
  • Give your best. Don't settle for anything less than your best on the day. A tune-up race gives you so many mental and physically skills to better manage certain situations and scenarios at a more important, key race. 
  • Establish a routine. Whether it's traveling to the race, warming up, eating before the race or going through the motions of certain race day workouts, figure out what works (and doesn't work for you) before it matters the most. 
  • Test yourself - physically, mentally, nutritionally, emotionally in conditions that may simulate what you'll experience in your key race. This will give you confidence of what works (and doesn't work) before your big key race. 
  • Be willing to suffer. There's something about race day that can teach you a lot. Many times, it takes an entire season to learn how to suffer and not give into mental demons that want you to give up or give in. With each tune-up race, you'll become a better race - learning how to suffer just a little bit more, for a little bit longer. 
Trimarni Athlete Weekend Results (3/16-3/17)
Several of the Trimarni team members kicked off their US triathlon racing season last weekend, along with a few other racers using early season fitness.

World Games Unified Open Water Swim (1600m)
Raj Dagstani - 2nd AG (50-54)

Ironman 70.3 Puerto Rico 
Albert Cardona -  10th AG (40-44).

Florida Challenge Half Ironman Triathlon (swim shortened to 1500 meters due to fog)
Chris Anuszkiewicz -  5:17:35, 2nd AG (45-49).
Greg Marshall - 5th AG (35-39).
Seneca Half Marathon
Reid Thomas - 1st AG 50-59, PR!

Unified 11km run
Amanda Borlotti - A fun run!



Meeting your coach's expectations

With only four weeks left until we kick-off our 2019 triathlon season, I have been thinking a lot about the athlete-coach relationship. With nearly five solo, music-free hours of swimbikerun training spread over Saturday for me, let's just say that I had a lot of time with my own thoughts.

Coaching is a mutual commitment. The athlete expects the coach to be professional, experienced, encouraging and communicative. But coaches have expectations of their athlete in order to optimize performance, maintain optimal health, to get the most out of the athletic journey and to get the most out of the coaching relationship.

When I think about the expectations that my coach has for me, I believe she wants me to be honest, responsive and engaged. I also believe she wants me to stay in good health - never restricting food or compromising sleep, or jeopardizing my ability to perform well in training and recover quickly from training sessions. Instead of trying to impress your coach with your ability to handle a high training load (and have data that shows that you are improving), training only works if you are able to positively adapt to training sessions - without compromising your health. Therefore, coaching is much more than checking off workouts.

Thankfully, my training has been strategically and systematically designed for gradual progress, without compromising my mental and physical health. With my personal feedback from each training session reported immediately into Training Peaks, she is able to keep me on the right track.

Trust in the coach-athlete relationship takes time to achieve. If you don't completely trust your coach, you may find yourself constantly training with a sense of doubt, always questioning workouts. This doesn't mean that you can't ask questions, express your concerns or make suggestions. If a coach is invested in you as the athlete, she/he will keep an open mind and adjust training as needed/appropriate to foster growth in the sport.

When it comes to coaching, I feel that many athletes and coaches see training as an entity unto itself - simply check off workouts and fitness/race readiness will improve. The attitude is "get it done" - often while in a chronic state of being physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted.

As an athlete, I want to stress that training is a piece of your life. Therefore, if you want to perform well in sport, you need to make decisions that contribute to sport enjoyment and improvement. In other words, when you aren't training, your eating, sleeping and lifestyle decisions play an important role in your response to training stress. Training is so much more than just checking off workouts.

As a coach, I want to stress that you (and your coach) need to have reasonable expectations for sport-related decisions that also work well for the rest of your life. Communication is key. For driven individuals, it's easy to set very high expectations for yourself as an athlete, often feeling a tremendous amount of pressure to perform to achieve a certain result. Be realistic with the time you can devote to training. By focusing on quality over quantity, you'll achieve much more than trying to function with an overworked mind and body.

Remind yourself that expectations influence thoughts and thoughts influence behaviors. This relates to training, racing, body composition. Being overly ambitious with your expectations can easily cause you to make extreme or unhealthy choices that negatively affect your fitness and health. More so, if your expectations are too extreme, you'll quickly lose your passion for the sport, destroy your athletic experience and negatively affect your self-confidence.

Do the training/racing expectations that you have for yourself align with the expectations that your coach has for you?