Today I have a guest post for you all:
Vegetarianism and triathlons – a good combination?
Many people think that in order to be a successful sportsperson, you will have to be an ultimate carnivore, dining on meat whenever possible. However, as Martina Navratilova, Carl Lewis and British Olympic medallist Lizzie Armitstead prove, vegetarians have their place in the world of sport.
A triathlon is an incredible test of your endurance and an event that will push your body further than ever before. As a result, fuelling your body has never been more important and failing to do so correctly could seriously affect your performance.
Here’s everything you veggies need to know about triathlon nutrition:
Replace what is lost without meat
Meat provides a lot of the vital nutrients that our bodies need to function correctly. Once meat has been excluded from our diet, we need to find a substitute to keep us fit and healthy.
As you’re probably aware, meat is a great source of protein, which is vital for tissue repair, red blood cell development and keeping bones healthy. However, there are other ways of getting protein into our body without eating meat: milk, tofu, cheese, peanut butter – there is a wealth of options that can work.
Iron is also found in meat and is used to help transport oxygen around the body, reinforce the immune system and convert blood sugar into energy. As you will agree, keeping your iron levels correct will be key to the success of your triathlon. You can do this by eating foods like leafy green vegetables, wholegrain cereals, figs and lentils.
Focus on complex carbohydrates
You will need enough energy to see you through the test of your triathlon. Around 60 per cent of your triathlon nutrition should be made up of complex carbohydrates, as these take longer to be broken down by the body, and hence provide a slow release of energy. Complex carbohydrates include rice, pasta, bread and potatoes.
There’s no difference
If you carry out your vegetarian diet plan successfully, there is no reason why you can’t perform just as well as – or maybe even better than – non-vegetarians during the triathlon.
Once you have sorted yourself out internally, you’ll need to kit yourself out externally to optimise your performance. Invest in a pair of running shoes made from a breathable material with a thick, spongy sole. These will keep your feet comfortable and dry.
It’s also worth investing in some specially designed triathlon clothing. Have a look at the range at Activinstinct – their collection of compression clothing could help prevent muscle strain, keeping you safe during the triathlon. They also sell a range of triathlon wetsuits, which you will need for the swimming stage.
You can find out more information about a successful vegetarian diet plan here.
I was listening to the marathon talk podcast the other week, as Tom Williams (one of the presenters) was in Hawaii reporting on the Kona Ironman. A triathlon has never appealed to me as I am such a poor swimmer, but I can see how the cross training would benefit running, and completing something like an iron man must be such an amazing achievement. It is also interesting to see that more people are opting for vegetarian or vegan diets. A quick google search directed me to an article about Thad Beaty, who turned vegan, lost 70lbs and then completed Ironman Arizona to raise money for charity. Of course there are other famous vegan athletes like Brendan Brazier and Scott Jurek (I loved his recent book Eat and Run) – while I am not saying these diets are for everyone, I think it is great that there are people proving that you do not have to have the typical raw egg protein shake diets to build muscle and achieve at endurance sports.
Would you ever consider a triathlon (or have you completed one already?)?
How has your diet changed as you have got older?
Veggies/ Vegans- are there particular athletes you look up to?
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