I’ve heard it said time and again - exercise is only a fraction of what it takes to get in shape. If you really want to be happy and healthy, you also need to adjust what you eat, when you eat, and how often. That’s doubly true where athletic training is concerned.
Whether it’s taking place this year, next year, or in the distant future, your upcoming triathlon is probably the most intense physical activity you’ll ever do. Training for that event is serious business - it’s something you want to put your heart and soul into in order to succeed.
And it all starts with your diet. Eating well is more important than anything else, but in this day and age, it can seem like an overwhelming task. Let’s see if we can’t make it a little more manageable.
Here are a few diet tips to help you get yourself started.
Keep A Food Log
Most of us have no idea what we eat or how often - we’re actually downright terrible at keeping track of our habits. That’s why food logs are so critically important. Seeing how you eat, when you eat, and how often you eat can clue you in on any issues there might be with your diet.
Once you’ve gotten used to tracking your meals, calorie intake, and meal times, take things a step further and start keeping track of macronutrients. In particular, you’re going to want to avoid excessive fat and sugars, as well as processed foods.
Instead, eat real, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, poultry, bread, etc. Focus especially on stuff that’s high in carbs and protein - you’re going to want a ton of both if you’re going to get in shape.
Lastly, you should teach yourself to recognize the signs that your diet might not be good enough:
- You’re constantly fatigued and feel like you lack energy - especially during and after workouts.
- You frequently get sick or injured.
- It takes you a long time to recover from muscle soreness.
- You have difficulty concentrating.
Prep Your Own Meals - Avoid Eating Out
A lot of the people who are most successful at getting in shape tend to avoid eating out too often. The reason for that is pretty simple - if you’re trying to keep track of your food intake, it’s extremely difficult to do so when you aren’t preparing the meals and measuring out portions yourself. That isn’t to say it’s impossible, mind you.
Nor am I saying you can’t go out with friends at all. A good rule of thumb is that ten percent of what you eat can come from ‘cheat foods ‘ - desserts, restaurant meals, etc.
Know That Timing is Everything
Plan your meals. This is the most important piece of advice I’ll ever give you. Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the same time every day- no exceptions. And when you do eat, eat at a leisurely, deliberate pace.
Give yourself plenty of time for meal prep, and avoid going for ‘easy convenience’ stuff like prepackaged, ‘instant’ meals.
Eat Well, Exercise Harder
If you’re trying to get in shape for a triathlon, the first thing you need to do is change your relationship with food. The advice here has given you exactly the starting point you need. The rest is up to you.