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Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Nutrition Dilemma

The purpose of a fuel test is to determine how many calories one's body burns from fat and carbohydrates (carbs/CHO). Essentially, you want to burn as many calories from fat as possible for as long as possible because you don't have to replace these calories while training. The more intense a workout is, the less energy your body gets from burning fat calories and the more it gets from burning carbs.

As an aside, any decent weight loss plan would include a fuel test to inform the participant how many calories from fat and carbs they burn at different levels of intensitites and focus on the levels of intensitites that burn the most amount of calories from fat. This, supplemented with a good diet, is arguably the best way to lose weight.

Now, as any triathlete will tell you, their goal is not really to lose weight. That comes naturally, especially if you're training for half or full Ironman events. Most of the time, I don't care or watch what I eat since I'm burning so many calories. But this doesn't mean that race day nutrition goes out the window. For sprint and olypmic distance triathlons, my normal breakfast of cereal will suffice though I will usually add a few more calories for an olympic-distance.

For longer distance triathlons I'm very type A and for halves, I've got my nutrition dialed in perfectly. As this is my first full Ironman, I've broken out the spreadsheet. Assuming an initial 1800 kCal in the bank and assuming 1 24oz. bottle of my cycling Infinit drink mix per hour on the bike and 2 8oz flasks of my running Infinit drink mix, and taking into consideration the kCal burned from CHO on the swim, bike, and run, I'm about 1800 kCal in the hole. This means between the bike and the run I need to consume an additional 1800 kCal.

I'm not sure how fine the line is between consuming too many calories and not enough. I've been on the losing end of that battle and it's not fun. That said, too many calories, I've been told, can result in bloating. I've never actually been bloated in a race, but it doesn't sound like fun.

After consulting with my coach (and I still have a question outstanding), my current plan is to have one PowerBar TT (which tastes lightyears better than the original PowerBar) every 90 minutes on the bike and a Cliff Blok every mile on the run. These extra calories put me at only ~115 kCal in the hole. Not much else I think I can do here and honestly, I'm not too worried.


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