The ultimate in endurance sport is an Ironman triathlon. These athletes swim 2.4 miles, bicycle for 112 miles and then run a marathon of 26.2 miles (140.6 miles total) in one day, so they really need to be prepared. The best do it in about nine hours. We wondered: What do triathletes eat and drink before a race?
It turns out a lot. The typical Ironman athlete burns 7,000 to 10,000 calories on a race day, so they need to really consume a lot of food. They also metabolize a lot of water, so they need to take in copious amounts of fluids on race day.
The average adult gets a fourth of that or fewer, about 2,000 calories a day or a bit less for women and a bit more for men.
There are many articles telling Ironman athletes what types of foods (carbohydrates) and how much they should eat just before and the day of the race. Caffeine, a known performance-enhancing substance that was once banned by the Olympics, figures in there. Viter Life did a blog on whether taking caffeine before a workout is a good idea. The answer: yes.
The Ironman website has this advice from athlete and triathlon coach Jesse Kropelnicki on caffeine consumption just before the race:
Avoid caffeine during race week and early on the day of your race. This fast will help keep your sensitivity to caffeine high so that you can maximize its effect come go-time. Don’t consume caffeine until at least two to three hours into your race (since it may wear off and make you fatigued when you need energy most); it’s your friend later in the day, helping you maintain a high heart rate and drive proper pacing. (And as a general rule of thumb, try to keep caffeine intake below 200 milligrams per day/1,000 milligrams per week.)
Kropelnicki gives a 10-point article on exactly how much to eat and drink before and during the race.
At another article on Ironman.com, the advice is to take in 180 to 360 calories per hour after the athlete’s body has burned its stores of carbohydrates. That article states:
Your body has enough carbohydrate stores to fuel about 60 to 90 minutes of endurance exercise. So, as you exit the swim you are most likely already in a calorie deficit. Start fueling during transition or within the first 10 to 15 minutes on the bike. A sports drink, gel, or small snack will help replenish your carbohydrate stores as you ramp up for the next leg of the race.
You may not feel hungry, but you still need to fuel. You can manage your carbohydrate load by fueling consistently and often. The recommended calorie range for exercise lasting over three hours is 45 to 90 grams of carbohydrate (180 to 360 calories) per hour. That means calories—don’t get confused by calorie-free electrolyte drinks or caffeine. They do not provide true energy; fuel means calorie! Try to consume a combination of liquid calories and solid calories.
The various articles on triathlons recommend a good, healthy diet at all times, of course. An athlete can’t perform at optimum level if he is under-nourished.
Another coach writing on the Ironman site, Ben Greenfield, advises:
We all know the drill—if you eat your fruits and vegetables, expose yourself to adequate sunlight, get plenty of sleep, and stay well hydrated, your body shouldn’t really need a supplemental source of vitamins and minerals, right? Not always.
The bottom line is this: if you are a serious athlete looking to enhance your physical performance in an IRONMAN or other endurance event, you should be serious about the energy sources you’re putting into your body. In most cases—unless you’re living on top of some pristine, unadulterated mountain with organic soil and a huge garden—then you most likely need to add high-nutrient supplements to your healthy diet.
Greenfield then lists five reasons why long-distance athletes need supplements, including that nutrients are depleted the longer produce is in transit and on the shelf and because soils are depleted of minerals that provide nutrition.
Remember, a triathlete or people running long distances (sometimes up to 100 miles) train constantly and sometimes run, bike and/or swim for hours several times a week.
Take an Olympic triathlon competition. That is a much shorter race than an Ironman at a 24-mile bike ride, a 6.2-mile run and a 0.93-mile swim. Of course athletes competing in the Olympic distances of triathlons eat and train much less than Ironman athletes. But let’s see what the recommendations are for training:
Runner’s World has a six-week triathlon training plan that includes:
You can see that people who train for the shorter distances of Olympic triathlons also put in some serious practice.
For the Ironman, one coach advises swimming four to five days a week at 12.5 to 15.5 miles; cycling three to four days at about 250 miles; and running three to four days a week at about 55 miles. All that exercise means long-distance and endurance athletes should consume many more calories than people who don’t exercise.
People who perform at such extreme levels of athleticism surely have reason to be proud. As the Ironman Triathlon Twitter account’s bio says: “Swim 2.4 miles … Bike 112 miles … Run 26.2 miles … Brag for the rest of your life.”
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The holidays are upon us. It’s only October but with the rate this year has gotten to the tail-end, we’ll all be wearing our favorite sweatshirts (forcibly or otherwise) and devouring the holiday away in no time.
The forward-looking you will already be starting to watch that *extra holiday weight* before the holiday even starts.
But one step at a time, right? After all, there’s a few weeks left before the celebrations and holiday parties officially kick in.
If the java lover in you has ever been curious whether caffeine can help curb the appetite, now is the perfect time to find some answers.
The word on the street is that caffeine is one of the best appetite suppressants.
Spoiler alert: researches tell us the jury’s still out on this one.
Have you been drinking coffee for years and starting to feel weird sensations after a cuppa? You’ve got to know something.
If you suddenly find yourself going through unusual post-caffeine effects such as anxiety, headache, faster heartbeat and tremors, you may be experiencing a shift in how your body metabolizes caffeine.
Two words: caffeine sensitivity.
Caffeine sensitivity is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, it’s all a matter of our body adapting to caffeine in our system.
However, if all of a sudden you start to feel things that didn’t use to happen after having your caffeine fix, then it’s time to watch that caffeine intake!
What if I tell you that aside from perking you up, caffeine can also help you concentrate and become more productive?
If, during mind-numbing, brain-wracking moments, you want to feel like Popeye going for a whole can of spinach, just reach out for the coffee-maker and you’re likely to feel the same! (For the best java experience, know when’s the best time to drink your coffee here.)
Caffeine can also help you absorb information and remember them more efficiently.
Yep! Our favorite stimulant can boost mental performance in more ways than one. Have a cuppa and you’ll find yourself retaining more information from classes and business meetings, kill it in planning and problem-solving, and finish those day-to-day tasks efficiently.
Without further ado, here are 8 ways caffeine can help us take a step closer to becoming Einstein-genius: