WHAT IS THE OPTIMAL NUTRITION FOR TRIATHLETES OR DOES IT DIFFER FROM PERSON TO PERSON?
Every athlete is unique and hence there is no one-size-fits-all nutrition strategy. Each athlete needs a healthy and varied diet tailored to his or her individual requirements. Factors such as managing your weight effectively, i.e. optimising the ratio of muscle mass to body fat and the training periodization have a strong influence on your daily energy requirements. This also influences the ratio of the macronutrients – fat, carbohydrates and protein – in your diet.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON NUTRITION MISTAKES DURING COMPETITION?
No nutrition experiments on the day of competition! Nutrition during exercise can influence a successful performance or drops in performance (in the worst case even a total performance termination). Race nutrition should therefore be planned and tested beforehand. The planned intake of foods and drinks that will be available on the course and that you will bring yourself need to be tested several times during training in order to get a feeling of what should be consumed/drunk in which quantity at which time shortly before and during the race. This can prevent unpleasant surprises.
A further common mistake during exercise, alongside a sub-optimal fluid strategy, is either the wrong timing or the wrong amount of carbohydrate ingestion which varies greatly depending on individual factors (e.g. tolerance) and duration of competition. One of the main determinants of a successful prolonged endurance performance at the highest level is a continuous ingestion of carbohydrates. The optimal amount and timing should be individually pre-determined during training leading up to the event.
WHAT IS RECOMMENDED SHORTLY BEFORE THE START OF A COMPETITION?
In general, foods that are more difficult to digest (these especially include foods rich in fat and high in fibre) consumed in the last few hours leading up to the race increase the risk of gastrointestinal discomfort. Within the last hour before the race, consuming a small carbohydrate snack such as rice cakes, a ripe banana or sports bars or gels and some fluid can support optimal preparation.
WHAT AND HOW MUCH SHOULD I DRINK BEFORE A RACE?
In the last 2-4 hours leading up to the race it is generally recommended to drink approx. 5-10 ml of fluid per kilo of body weight. In the final hour before a race, you should ideally consume approximately 100-300ml of fluid. Individual taste and preference, in accordance with the right carbohydrate strategy, should dictate what you should drink (e.g. sports drinks such as Isoactive Isotonic Sports Drink or plain water), as long as you can tolerate it well. Some triathletes like to use caffeinated beverages, which can help to improve performance. Amongst endurance athletes caffeine has long been considered a real “mental booster”. Bear in mind that this is only suitable if you tolerate caffeine well.
THERE IS A VAST RANGE OF AVAILABLE DRINKS, BARS AND GELS. HOW DO I KNOW WHICH ONE SUITS ME BEST?
Individual preferences and tolerances, duration and intensity of activity should dictate the form of the chosen carbohydrate product. With a sensitive stomach, high nervousness or high exercise intensities, gels and sports drinks are usually more suitable than solid foods. For prolonged exercise sessions such as long-distance triathlons, a mix of solid and liquid/semi-liquid food can lead to a comfortable feeling in the gastrointestinal system and provides a welcome change to prevent monotony.
HOW TO AVOID HITTING THE WALL DURING A COMPETITION?
A competition situation should be simulated in advance during training to get a feeling of what should be consumed/drunk in what QUANTITY and at what TIME during exercise in order to avoid nasty surprises or unpleasant symptoms due to a drop in blood sugar levels. It is also advantageous to eat sufficient carbohydrates (noodles, bread, dried fruit etc.) in the final days before a competition so that the energy stores in the muscles (glycogen stores) are well filled. In addition, for optimal preparation, the diet in the last hours before the competition should be carefully/thoughtfully planned ahead of time.
YOU CAN ALSO GET SPORTS NUTRITION PRODUCTS CONTAINING CAFFEINE (E.G. ISOMAX ISOTONIC SPORTS DRINK; CAFFEINE BOOST AMPOULES, POWERGEL®S WITH ADDITIONAL CAFFEINE). WHEN WOULD BE THE BEST TIME TO CONSUME THESE?
Caffeine is considered by athletes to be a performance booster. For example, a caffeine dose of 3 mg (ingested 60min before exercise) per kg/bodyweight can increase endurance capacity according to the European Food Safety Authority. The caffeine effect varies individually and is not suitable for every athlete. Therefore, it should be tested in advance during training whether and in what quantity caffeine is beneficial before and/or during exercise.
DOESN’T CAFFEINE CAUSE DEHYDRATION DURING EXERCISE?
There is no scientific evidence showing that moderate caffeine consumption (< 5 mg/kg of body weight) during exercise has a negative impact on hydration levels or that it causes dehydration at all.
WHAT IS THE FUNCTION OF MAGNESIUM?
Magnesium is one of the 5 electrolytes that are excreted most with sweat loss. Magnesium has many important functions in our body. For example, this mineral supports the reduction of tiredness and fatigue and is important for normal muscle function as well as for a functioning normal energy metabolism. Magnesium is included in the PowerBar Isoactive Isotonic Sports Drink and Energize Bars, available at your local retailer.
WHAT ABOUT CARBO-LOADING? HOW EXACTLY DOES IT WORK?
Carbo-loading is a tried-and-tested method designed to maximize the glycogen stores in your muscles.
The recommended strategies have evolved a lot in recent years. The methods recommended nowadays are much simpler: in the last few days leading up to a competition, you should follow a high-carb, low-fibre, low-fat diet while also tapering your training. In this so-called carb-loading phase, the most suitable nutrition consists of carbohydrate-rich foods such as white pasta, white rice, mashed potato and fruit smoothies. Some simple advice for mealtimes includes: fill your plate with additional helpings of rice, potato or pasta than you would normally eat, choose a banana instead of low-calorie soft fruit (such as berries) for dessert and for in between meal snacks an energy bar, rice cakes and/or carbohydrate rich liquids instead of low carbohydrate snacks are good options.
It is important to understand that effective carbo-loading leads to increased fluid retention (carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in combination with water in the muscle) which increases your body weight. As a result, you will notice that you are slightly heavier than usual. It is therefore important to test this sport nutrition strategy before a long and intensive training session. But rest assured that carbo-loading can lead to improvements during prolonged endurance exercise.
WHEN IS THE MOST SUITABLE TIME TO REDUCE BODYWEIGHT?
It is important to mainly reduce energy intake in periods where you are not competing to avoid a drop in performance and slowed recovery. Weight-loss strategies can also lead to an increased risk of illness and injury and therefore should be planned carefully, in advance and on an individual basis.
WHAT SHOULD VEGETARIANS AND VEGANS LOOK OUT FOR?
A badly planned diet of an omnivore is no more balanced than that of a badly planned vegetarian diet. A well-planned ovo-lacto vegetarian or vegan diet has been found to be sufficient for the nutrient needs of an athlete. When planning a vegan diet, careful consideration must be given to include sufficient vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids and the minerals iron and zinc. Many vegan and vegetarians have been found to have lower creatine stores than their meat-eating counterparts. In this case it might be beneficial to consider a suitable creatine supplementation, as well-filled creatine stores can allow you to train at a greater intensity which for example can improve repeated sprint efforts.
HOW IS THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF PRODUCT QUALITY ENSURED AT POWERBAR?
Food safety is our top priority. For example, each individual product batch is inspected after production for taste and consistency; and microbiological tests are carried out in accredited laboratories.
Furthermore, our products are only produced under the binding assurance of all raw material suppliers that there is no contamination with substances banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. In addition, all PowerBar products are included in the Cologne List®, one of the leading service platforms that lists sports nutrition products tested for banned substances according to strict certification processes. This offers athletes even more security and trust in our products.