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Fuel Like A Pro

  • By Holly Bennett
  • Published Feb 8, 2012
  • Updated Dec 17, 2012 at 4:14 PM UTC


Often it’s not the grueling distances of long-course triathlon that leave athletes flailing; it’s the lack of proper fueling along the way. But one person’s perfect nutrition plan might be another’s gastrointestinal nightmare. We polled a number of pros to learn their before-, during- and after-race eating and drinking habits. You may be surprised to learn the varied tactics, tastes and tolerances of some of our sport’s superstars.

RELATED: Train Like A Pro

The Day Before

“I’ve heard stories of folks going out for KFC or other greasy meals the day before a race, but to me this can only be a recipe for disaster—an ‘Original Recipe’ for disaster, that is! That said, I have been known to scarf down a hefty portion of pizza two nights before the race, especially if I’m closing out a large block of training and my body might be deficient in calories. The day before, I tend to eat exactly what I eat on a day-to-day basis. My main goal is to eat an early dinner, which tends to consist of basic rice pasta with marinara sauce. I get around 1000 calories at 5 p.m., then later I’ll eat a snack of cookies or M&M’s so I don’t wake up hungry in the middle of the night.” Michael Lovato

“I eat eggs with veggies for breakfast, fruit for a snack, a sandwich and salad for lunch and egg veggie surprise again for dinner. I guess I like eggs.” Mary Beth Ellis

“For dinner I usually make a buffet of chicken, broccoli, salad, rice, bread and pizza because I never know what I will feel like eating depending on my nerves.” Chris Lieto

“I eat my usual breakfast, a bagel with half peanut butter and half cream cheese, a sandwich of sorts for lunch, and something like white rice, sweet potato and a bit of protein for dinner. It’s usually two days before the race that I really chow down. I used to go by the mantra ‘A hungry fox hunts best,’ but I’m not sure that works for an Ironman—it’s too bloody long.” Julie Dibens

“I like a big breakfast: three to four eggs, avocado, salsa, toast, coffee, potatoes and sometimes a nice pastry. Lots of snacking throughout the day: yogurt, granola, peanut butter and jelly, trail mix, peanut butter-filled pretzels. I like a big lunch as well: a turkey sandwich on wheat with Swiss, avocado and lots of veggies, a piece of fruit, chips and a chocolate chip cookie. I like a smaller dinner: grilled chicken breast, sweet potato with cottage cheese, grilled veggies, quinoa and some nice dark chocolate for dessert.” Linsey Corbin

“I limit fiber 48 hours before a race. This helps keep the weight down and limits the toilet stops on the run. I eat a lot of rice-based foods and potatoes. I’ve been known to eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s the night before, too!” Joe Gambles

“Breakfast and lunch can vary, but dinner is always the same: yams, potatoes, carrots and rutabaga all mashed together, steamed spinach and fish (mahi mahi or trout) with added salt. I drink First Endurance Ultragen, EFS electrolyte drink and lots of water to stay hydrated.” Heather Wurtele

“I start off with a bigger than normal breakfast (Denny’s!) and taper throughout the day. At my last race I had a First Endurance Cappuccino Ultragen shake mixed with almonds and two bananas for dinner.” Amanda Lovato

“I eat a normal breakfast of toast and eggs, a sandwich and salad for lunch, Muscle Milk, and ham and pineapple pizza for dinner with water and Greek salad. I usually have a cookie or ice cream sandwich for dessert.” Matty Reed

“I like this day. I have a good-sized breakfast: double toast with tahini and banana, coffee and then a mid-morning scone or muffin. Lunch is pasta with ketchup—it sounds disgusting but it is so good! Dinner is pizza—it has fat for fuel and carbs for my muscles.” Joanna Lawn

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FILED UNDER: Nutrition / Recipes

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