How To Fuel For An Ironman | Triathlon Nutrition Tips For Going Long Distance

How To Fuel For An Ironman | Triathlon Nutrition Tips For Going Long Distance

– Fueling for an Ironman is a challenging task and one that you need to get right if you want that personal best, as you obviously don’t
want to run out of energy midway through or waste too much time with several bathroom stops. – Yeah the physiological
demands of an Ironman are high and up there
with being one of the most energy consuming things you
could do in a single day. You could burn in excess
of 8,000 calories. And to put that into some perspective that is almost twice
the amount of an average Tour De France rider in a single stage. So you’re going to need to be prepared. – Yeah you do. So how do you go about fueling for one? Well, I think it’s a good place to start with chewing over
the demands of an Ironman. – Wa-Hey! (upbeat music) – The days leading up to a
race are really important and nutrition is something that athletes quite often overlook until
the final day before a race or even the night before a race. But in fact, you should be
thinking about your diet the week leading into a race or even the month leading into a race. You want to be aiming
for a nice consistent and healthy diet and staying
hydrated well through out. So to help you out here, actually just carrying a bottle
around with you regularly and sipping from that could
be of great use to you. And then in the final four,
maybe even to ten days leading into the race you
want to start increasing your carbohydrate intake. This doesn’t mean piling back
bowls and bowls of pasta, but just maybe replacing
the odd snack here and there with something with a little
bit more carbohydrate in there. And whilst doing that
you’re going into your taper and reducing the amount of volume and intensity you’re doing. This is all going to help in increasing the amount of glycogen
stored within your body and your muscles. (upbeat music) (waves crashing on beach) – Fast swimmers will take around an hour but you could be up to
two and a half hours on the swim portion and due
to the nature of swimming you’re not going to be able to
take on any nutrition during. So in that case it’s essential
that you make sure you fuel really well beforehand and
you also have a strategy to refuel as soon as you finish the swim. So talking of the pre-fueling
it’s essential to have a carbohydrate rich breakfast
at least 90 minutes before your race and due to race nerves
its going to be hard to take on that adequate fueling. So make sure you’ve at least
practiced this in training and it’s food that you know
you can easily digest. (upbeat music) – Well the bike ride
is where a good fueling strategy can really make
your race, but equally get it wrong and it could be really
hard to recover from this. Now again, we got a common
theme going on here. Stay on top of your hydration
and your carbohydrate intake, but obviously this also
comes down to experience and personal preference. Now it’s been shown that the
best sources of carbohydrate for endurance activity or
exercise are in the form of energy drinks, energy gels,
and solid energy bars. Now in terms of ingestion
rate of these carbohydrates it’s thought that between 60 to 90 grams of carbohydrate
per hour are optimum. Now, that equates to one 500
mil bottle of energy drink with about 60 to 80
grams of carbs in there. Normally about two to three
of these sort of energy gels and often about three energy bars. Obviously all dependent on the brand. Now what I would say is do have a look at the types of carbohydrates
in these energy sources. Ideally we’re after a mix
of glucose and fructose and a lot of brands do do
this in a two to one ratio. But all of this does mean
its important you go away and you trial out all of these
different types of nutrition to find out what’s best for you, what you’re comfortable with,
what works, what doesn’t work. Do this on long rides and some
high intensity rides so you can arrive on race day feeling confident. (upbeat music) – It’s crunch time in an Iron Man and if you have got your fueling wrong then you’re going to be
fighting a losing battle now. If however you’re still on track, it’s important to keep that concentration and make sure you carry on fueling. As you’ve still got several
hours of racing left to go, so you want to aim to take on still 60 to 90 grams of
carbohydrates if you can. Yes, it’s still easy to
physically eat when you’re running just like it is on the bike,
but becomes slightly harder to digest it as your stomach’s
going to be jumping up and down, so it makes it much
harder for it to digest. With that in mind it does become essential that you practice this in training, as you find out the foods and the fluids that you can actually easily digest and its very tempting to go
and do most of your training maybe feeling you don’t need that fuel ’cause you’re not doing
it after a long bike ride, but you still need to make
sure that you practice, so that come race day
your stomach’s used to it and you know what will work for you. (slow moto music) – Now some studies have
shown that consuming around six milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight, around 45 minutes to 60
minutes prior to a triathlon can have a performance enhancing effect. But I’m not so sure how much
caffeine is going to help us on a long-distance event,
such as an Ironman. It’s not like we really need to be pumped and ready before such a long event. But where it could be useful
is later on in the race when you start to feel fatigued and maybe your mood isn’t quite as high as it was at the start. And maybe that’s where caffeine
could give you that lift that’s going to be really
helpful, but again this is where you want to try out in training
and see if it works for you. (calm upbeat music) – So what are the key points then? You’ve probably got the
hint by now I reckon it’s practice, practice, practice. Yes, there is no point in
rocking up on race day and hoping that just any old nutrition
plan is going to work for you. It is very personalized
so you need to experiment in training, find out what
works, and practice it a lot. – Yep and it comes down to, carbohydrates. Yep fueling during or even
prior to a race comes down to carbohydrates both before
the race and making sure that we’re storing those
carbohydrates during the race and also making sure that our
bodies can cope with that. Now obviously let’s not
forget proteins and fats, they are very important
in the lead up to the race in our day-to-day training but they are slower to
breakdown than carbohydrates. So this is why we often look
towards carbohydrates during a race because we want to
get that energy quickly, there and then. – Yeah well let us know
how you get on in your next Ironman and how your
fueling plan plans out in the comments section below and give us a like and follow GTN whilst you’re at it.

25 thoughts on “How To Fuel For An Ironman | Triathlon Nutrition Tips For Going Long Distance

  1. 10 gels + water in a bidon on drops. Energy bar and salt tab every hour gel mix 30min between bars. Electrolytes in second bottle cage drink often.

  2. Things are about to change. I'm creating a Swimcap with pockets for snacks. Also will be my special swim-snack: JAWS —>> Just Add Water, Slowly!

  3. Thanks alot for your videos! This is a really interesting topic. I have big issues eating what so ever during my longer events. Have to stick to fluid with alot of energy. So I bring the ”powder” in my pockets and mixed it with the sportsdrink they serve at the stations. Very often I completely crash after finnishing and throw up just by thinking of eating. This is a BIG issue for me. I have my no 1 full IM in August and refuelling is key for me so yes, please dig deaper in this topic. Regards, Lasse a true fan of GTN.

  4. I've always hated the gels. So I never train with them, but I do find that they are necessary in an IM distance event. I've done many 70.3's without them. 20+ years of triathlon what I have learned is nutrician leading up to race day is the most important (for me). In fact, I tend to eat less or no meat days before a race with more vegetables and pasta, beans, nuts and seeds. I always thought that a big guy like myself (210-215lbs) needed the meat, but surprisingly since I have cut "some" meat out I have gotten much faster in my 50's. So much that my best 70.3 is 4h45 at 50. best Oly 2h17 at 51. However yet to break the 11hr mark for IM. I eat as many bananas during the bike that I can get in me. And surprisingly, I tend to go for the sugary caffiene laden cola on the run portion…but only in the second half of the run. I do have an energy powder (MaxATP) that I mix in my coconut water which I have two bottles of on the bike. My take on all of this is that even nutrician has evolved so much over the years that "we" are always trying to find the next magic pill to make us faster. Nutrician and a 55 big ring is the key!

  5. Ok, on the bike, 60-90g carb, 500ml bottle, couple gels, couple bars. Sounds reasonable. Oh, hang on. Per hour! I'm expecting to be on the bike for 6hrs. That's 6 bottles, 12 gels, 12 bars. Do I tow a trailer? Can you guarantee knowing what's available at aid stations to top up? Will it be mixed right? Lot of races I've previously done, the drink will be mixed lean. Plus that's a lorra lorra peeing!

  6. If i can handle pizza during the bike should I go with that? I can basically eat anything and I have never had any problems. I do hate these bars and gels, prefer real food.

  7. Peanut butter M&Ms. great on the bike – they don’t melt and have just a little fat but mostly carbs. Also a bit salty and easy to pack.

  8. Thank you for another awesome video, love to watch the channel during Zwift workouts. I have a question, have you allready made a similar video about shorter distances (for example olympic distance) ?

  9. I went to a local Ironman camp last spring and I found the nutrition talk was the most important 30 minutes of the weekend. A summary of the IM nutrition talk can be found at

  10. If you watch pro cyclists in road races, especially the stages that finish with a big mountain top finish you'll see many of them seem to keep the caffeine gels for just before they hit the climb. If it's around 35 – 50 minute climb then I've noticed a lot of them taking a caffeine gel around 5 minutes before the bottom of the climb. They might actually want to take it slightly later, like right at the bottom of the climb but in the pro races it goes a bit mad just before they get to the turn or whatever that leads to the start of the climb with all the teams fighting for position at the front of the peloton going stupidly fast and hard so taking a gel then would be a bit dangerous so they probably take it a bit earlier than they'd want to.

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