Training for a triathlon consists of more than just swimming, running and cycling. It’s a serious commitment that requires athletes to tailor their entire lifestyle around one race. Most athletes do not realize the important a role diet plays in their performance, but as competitive athlete and endurance race enthusiast Bill Redfern quickly discovered, maintaining proper nutritional habits is paramount to success.

Triathlon competitors are well advised to eat foods that fuel the body. Refined foods that contain excessive amounts of sugar are absorbed by the body rapidly, and do not provide the sustained energy athletes require. In fact, they can actually be detrimental to an an athlete‘s overall health. They can also cause inflammation of the joints and muscles, and can make athletes more susceptible to injury and fatigue. Instead stick with foods that are natural and nutrient rich such as whole grains.

While training, Bill Redfern made a point to stay away from junk foods. He also maintained a balanced diet that consisted of a balance of protein and carbohydrates. Proteins provide energy and help the body eliminate fat, whereas carbohydrates stick to the body, and can be exceedingly difficult to burn. Also, eating too many carbs can result in severe fatigue.

That’s not to say all carbohydrates are bad. In fact, carbs that are high in dietary fiber should be an essential part of any endurance athlete’s diet. Just stay away from sodas, candies and excessive amounts of white bread and pasta.

On the topic of good carbohydrates, athletes are encouraged to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Besides being high in fiber, fruits and vegetables are loaded with nutrients. However, avoid products that taste like fruit but really aren’t fruit. Quintessential examples are fruit juices, fruit snacks and other sweet tasting candies. Along the same lines, frozen vegetables do not possess the same amount of nutrients as their fresh counterparts. Buy organic whenever possible, or at least be sure to visit the fresh fruits and vegetables section of your grocery store.

It is a proven fact that foods eaten early in the day are more likely to be stored as heat energy than fat. Never skip breakfast and never eat more than what makes you feel full. Ideally, triathlon athletes should eat frequently throughout the day, but in small quantities. This way, they’ll be able to keep their energy levels up, without consuming so much that they feel lethargic. As an added side effect, eating this way will also help athletes look and feel better.

When training for the Mack Cycle Triathlon, Bill Redfern made a point to stay well hydrated. Drinking plenty of water amplifies performance during training sessions by lowering body temperature and increasing blood circulation. Sports drinks have the added benefit of replacing electrolytes, but the word is out on whether they should replace water. Some athletes have taken the middle approach, and mix equal parts water and sports drink.

In order to become as physically fit as three-time triathlon competitor Bill Redfern, athletes must pay strict attention to their diets. Without doing so, competing in a triathlon will prove to be little more than an exercise in futility.

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