Achieving Optimal Race Weight
and Power Performance
By Bob Seebohar, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS
Elite Multisport Coaching
Race season is fast approaching and with that comes even more emphasis on improving power to weight ratio on the bike. This can obviously lead to enhanced performance in competitions but often times, triathletes do not go about it the right way thus they actually lose power and force.
There are many ways to manipulate the power to weight ratio and from a nutritional perspective, creating a state of metabolic efficiency inside the body is the overwhelming main goal. Doing this will allow you to shed some pounds off of your body frame in a safe manner and at the same time, it will also allow you to more efficiently use fat as an energy source during training so you will not have to shove as many calories inside your body during training or racing.
There is a powerful connection between your daily nutrition plan and your body's ability to use fat as fuel. Controlling blood sugar is the most important factor because whenever it is spiked, it turns off the body's ability to burn fat. The easiest way to prevent this spike is by pairing foods that have protein, fat and fiber (such as fruits or vegetables). These nutrients work together to stabilize blood sugar and keep insulin under control. At the end of the day, this is the main nutritional goal for improving race weight. Below are some strategies to utilize throughout the day to teach your body to become more metabolically efficient.
Be sure to eat enough protein and fat. I often see triathletes who are very, very carbohydrate imbalanced meaning that they eat so many carbohydrates that they forget about adding sources of protein and fat to their meals. I recommend eating between 25-35 grams of protein at every meal and 15-25 grams at every snack. Choose protein sources you enjoy eating such as dairy products, meat, beans, nuts or edamame and build you meal around them. Fat is usually accompanied with the protein but good sources are coconut oil, olive oil, avocados and olives.
Stay hydrated. Once you balance your protein and intake throughout the day, it is important to keep hydrated to help the body process the protein that you eat. Drink a bit more water or other beverages throughout the day and don't forget that fruits and vegetables are also high water containing foods that can add to fluid balance. There is no research that provides a daily fluid prescription for athletes so it is important to monitor urine frequency and color throughout the day to ensure that you are staying hydrated.
This will be the most difficult strategy to employ but it is one of the most important. Listen to your hunger cues and only eat when you are biologically hungry. You can tell when this is because your stomach will begin to grumble or you may lose mental focus and concentration. After a while, you will get to learn your body so well that you will know when you will be biologically hungry and you can eat before it happens.
Achieving an optimal race weight is much easier than most triathletes think. It does not require starving yourself or following any crazy diets. By simply shifting around your macronutrients to achieve optimal blood sugar control and learning when you are hungry, you can alter your body weight to reflect a higher power to weight ratio for the upcoming season. Enjoy the journey!
Bob Seebohar, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS is a sport dietitian and elite triathlon coach. He traveled to the 2008 Summer Olympics as the U.S. Olympic Committee Sport Dietitian and the personal Sport Dietitian for the 2008 Olympic Triathlon Team. He has served as coach for Sarah Haskins, 2008 Olympian, was a performance team member (sport dietitian and strength coach) for Susan Williams, 2004 Olympic Triathlon bronze medalist and was the coach of Jasmine Oeinck, 2009 Elite National Champion.
Bob's book, Metabolic Efficiency Training: Teaching the Body to Burn More Fat, teaches athletes how to structure their nutrition and training program throughout the year to maximize their body's ability to use fat as energy and improve body composition. He also has a Metabolic Efficiency Recipe book in electronic format with over 100 metabolically efficient meals and snacks. For more information and to order the books, visit www.fuel4mance.com or contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org