A Week before the Race: Start Optimizing Your Food (and Your Hydration)
The priority in the week leading up to your triathlon is to build up your glycogen reserves—this is the fuel which will feed your muscles throughout the race. To do so, you should consume carbohydrate-rich foods with every meal. The more elevated your glycogen reserves, the more intense your effort will be, or the longer it will last. Prioritize complex carbohydrates, such as pasta or rice.
To avoid the risk of becoming dehydrated on the day, which could impair your performance, you should drink at least 1.5 liters of water every day, preferably mineral water due to its high mineral content (as the name suggests). You should also avoid consuming acidic drinks like soda and alcohol.
The Day before the Race: Tailor Your Dinner
You must prioritize good quality sleep on the eve of the race. Reduce fats (butter, sauces etc.) without eliminating them entirely. Your evening meal must be high in calories and made up of complex carbohydrates.
Preferred foods include:
- White meat
- Pasta (cooked “al dente”)
Three Hours before the Race: Your Cut-Off Point for Eating
You should stop eating three hours before the start of the race; this is fundamental to ensure all food is fully digested in time. Eat an easily digestible meal, without too much fat; you should avoid buttery foods, for example. Eating carbohydrates is essential before physical exertion, but whole-food starches, such as bread, should be avoided as they could disrupt your digestion.
Did You Know?
Good nutrition throughout the months of training prior to the competition can make all the difference in your performance on race day. You should also have a strategy for refueling during the race itself.
Please bear in mind that these are just general guidelines that should be adapted according to your level of athleticism and to the format of the course that you will be completing on race day. If you want to devise a nutritional plan tailored to a specific sporting objective, the sports nutrition department at the Swiss Olympic Medical Center at Hôpital de La Tour will be happy to assist you.