Training hard and good nutrition go hand in hand when it comes to the sport of triathlon. As you train, you’ll want to fuel your body with the proper nutrients so you feel energized and so that your body can rebuild itself after a tough workout.
If you’re like any normal person training for a triathlon, chances are that you’re probably hungrier than normal. And, if you’re like Jess and me, chances are, you may crave salty chips or a juicy burger after a workout.
Those things aren’t bad every once in awhile, but it’s easy to eat junk and justify eating it all the time because you’re “training hard” or “you deserve it”.
A great way to stay on track and to make sure your body gets the nutrients it needs during your triathlon training, is to have a smoothie or a shake. So let’s talk about some of the pros and cons of using shakes and smoothies as a source of fuel.
Quick and Easy
First up, it’s quick and easy to whip up a shake. I like this pro because sometimes I’m not hungry first thing in the morning, but I know I need to get some fuel in my system for an upcoming training session and a shake is the perfect option.
On The Go
Instead of going through the drive-thru in the morning,whip up a smoothie and head out the door. Shakes are easy, portable and you can make some extra and keep it in the fridge at work for a quick afternoon pick-me-up.
Quick Nutrition Before & After Training
A smoothie that contains a good mix of complex carbohydrates (fruit) and healthy fats (like peanut butter) can give you a great burst of energy and help fuel your workout.
If you are going to travel somewhere for a swim, bike or run workout, it’s a good idea to take along a pre-made shake to have right after your sweat session. After a workout, your body is depleted and needs the proper nutrients to help repair and rebuild itself. So, bring along a post-workout smoothie. Otherwise, by the time you make it home, you’ll be so hungry that you raid the kitchen like a madman and eat anything and everything in sight!
Easy to Digest
If I’m not planning my day well and haven’t had a meal early enough before my workout, a shake is a good option because they digest quickly and the nutrients are available sooner for your body to use as fuel.
Also, remember when your mom wouldn’t let you swim right after you ate? Well, since it take less time to digest a smoothie than a full meal, you don’t have to wait an hour before you hop in the pool for your workout!
We’re going to get into this more in a minute, but shakes and smoothies are a great way to get in a bunch of super food nutrition. Hang on and we’ll get back to that…
Shakes and smoothies can become high in calories really quickly when you start adding things like peanut butter, a handfuls of nuts, fruit juice, ice cream, etc. So remember to be mindful and aware of the “sneaky” calories you’re adding in there.
However, as long as you aren’t whipping up Oreo milkshakes and adding protien powder, a smoothie or a shake made with fruit, greens and peanut butter is still a better option than chips or cookies.
They Don’t Stick to Your Ribs
Even though shakes and smoothies are easy to digest, some people get hungry again soon thereafter. Digesting quickly, which can be a good thing for pre and post workout nutrition, can also be a con if you are attempting to replace a meal and get hungry again soon after your smoothie.
Smoothies can be a great option for weight loss, but if they don’t keep you full, then you’re bound to reach for another snack and that defeats the purpose.
Important Note: Nutrients don’t work in a vacuum.
When I use shakes and smoothies for triathlon nutrition, I’m not talking about just drinking water mixed with protein powder. That makes a great-tasting base, but it’s not all there is too it.
From a surface view, your body needs more than just protein. It also needs carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, antioxidents and health enhancing phytochemicals. Your body was designed to use foods together, not individually so it doesn’t make sense to one eat one isolated nutrient at a time. But more so than that, nutrients are synergistic, meaning they all work together so the sum of their parts is greater than individually.
Here’s an example: Protein provides amino acids that are like the building blocks for certain things like muscle (very important for a triathlete’s recovery, right?). But your body also requires enzymes to actually do the work of stacking those building blocks to create and repair muscle tissues. And then that’s not to mention other things your body desperately needs like antioxidants to protect and repair other cells, for instance.
How to boost your shakes and smoothies by adding extra nutrition.
I prefer to use a protein powder base, but that’s just the beginning. Then I add in a couple pieces of fruit, a handful of kale or spinach, flax seeds, chia seeds, raw nuts and some unsweetened almond milk or water.
Here are some of my favorite smoothie additions:
Fresh fruit (bananas, mango, peaches, and oranges are a few favs)
Frozen mixed berries
Raw, unsalted nuts
Kale, spinach or other fresh greens
Mixed greens powder (I like this one)
Coconut water (CocoHydro is AWESOME)
Fresh lemon or lime juice
Shakes and smoothies are a great way to make sure you eat (or drink!) your fruits and veggies and to fuel your body for your triathlon training. Get creative and try adding some of the things from the above list! We’d love to hear what tasty creations you come up with!
Cheers to using shakes and smoothies as part of a powerful triathlon nutrition strategy…
Stay tuned… I’ll be posting a few of my favorite smoothie recipes soon!
What’s your favorite smoothie or add in?