Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Eating for an Ironman

by Meghann on July 9, 2013

I need to start this post by saying I have no idea what I’m doing here. This is my first Ironman and I have zero training in the nutrition department. I’m basically going off of gut feeling, what I’ve learned from other people’s experience, and google. Please take everything I’m about to say with a grain of salt. I’m simply sharing my experience, not offering advice of any kind.

With that being said, I feel like I’ve been eating for two lately: me and the Ironman. The Ironman has a hunger of its own and, trust me, it’s always hungry. It’s common knowledge that Ironman training will likely lead to weight gain because that hunger is a bitch to control. I 100% get that now, especially since the majority of what I crave is cake and sweets.

Of course, my goal during training is to eat what I need to eat, when I need to eat it. Nothing is off limits and I’m not following a set eating strategy (i.e. diet plan). However, I am trying to direct some of those much needed calories away from the sweets department and more towards the healthy grains/protein/veggies. It’s a constant work in process, but I am working on it.

To accomodate my larger appetite, I’ve been eating larger snacks in the morning and an extra snack in the afternoon. Basically it feels like I’m eating all day. I’ve found that constantly eating works best at controlling the hunger beast.

A typical day goes:

  • 5:30am: Pre-workout snack (1/2 granola bar, handful of cereal, nuts, etc.)
  • 7:30am: Breakfast (oatmeal, eggs, granola and yogurt, etc.)
  • 10:00am: Morning snack (mixed nuts)
  • 12:00pm: Lunch (leftovers, sandwich with side of vegetables, etc)
  • 3:00pm: Afternoon snack (hard boiled egg, cheese, veggies + hummus, fruit + PB)
  • 5:30pm: Pre-workout afternoon snack
  • 7:30pm: Dinner (protein, carb, veggie)
  • 8:00pm: Dessert (ice cream, chocolate bar, fruit, etc.)  

Lots of healthy fats, fiber, and protein helps keep me full. Now, if only that combination would keep my sweet tooth away!

For long bike/run days, I’m still experimenting with what I’m eating, how much I’m eating, and when I’m eating it. Part of training for an Ironman is figuring out what works for you with nutrition during the race. My goal for race day will be to take in 200-300 calories per hour on the bike. I prefer to eat every half hour and have been practicing that strategy on every ride. I like to break up Clif bars, drink Gatorade,and I’m a fan of the new PowerBar Fruit Blends. I really like eating solids on the bike, I’ll save the chomps for the run.

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Before long rides, I also like to enjoy a larger breakfast. My current pre-ride fave is greek yogurt pancakes with nut butter and berries.

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I’ve started a bad habit of bribing myself on the bike with the promise of a Starbucks frappuccino if I finish the ride. It’s a bad habit, but it works every time.

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Back at home, I’ll refuel with a protein smoothie and/or eggs.

For runs, smaller pre-run breakfasts are preferred. I am DONE with nut butter and cold bagels (gag!) and usually go with a small bowl of oats instead.

My general rule is that I usually don’t take fuel in on a run unless I’m running greater than 10 miles. I’m a Gatorade fan and plan to train with the energy chews they sent me.

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Like I said, I’m a work in process. I’m figuring everything out as I go. As I get deeper in training, I’m sure my eating habits will continue to evolve and change. Any advice anyone has to offer with on-the-go snack ideas (homemade granola bars/energy balls/etc recipes especially!) is appreciated!

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