Eat to Train


Posted by Coach John


This sport of triathlon can be confusing with the endless amount of information about how to train, equipment to buy, what races to choose, etc.  Included in that is the puzzle of triathlon nutrition that has many newbies and veterans busy experimenting with how to improve their performance or how to keep from bonking.


One aspect of my personal nutrition journey revolves around the concept of metabolic efficiency. Listening to a lecture from the notable endurance sports nutritionist and author, Bob Seebohar, I was introduced to the notion of “eat to train” vs. “train to eat”. Bob is a great speaker who has the ability to take a somewhat complex idea like metabolic efficiency and bring it down to my level. After listening, I incorporated much of what he talked about into my training/eating regimen.


The premise of the concept is to make our bodies more efficient fuel burners and therefore perform better at long distance events, such as Ironman distance races. If we can get our energy from fat sources in our body instead of burning glycogen then we can get away with eating less during the race and decrease the risk of digestion problems.


This change for me was started during my longer rides, 2 hours or more. Instead of “over-fueling” myself prior to and during these rides I limited my carbohydrate intake. Over the period of a few months I was able to ride aerobically for 2-2.5 hours with only water and electrolytes.


One of the secondary benefits for me was that I lost weight. I had already lost about 40 lbs. from all my training, but the metabolic efficiency technique helped me go after those last pesky 25 lbs.


For me, that saying of “eat to train” is very beneficial!


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