The old school triathlon diet of gels, lollies, sugary bars and white bread sandwiches is out! Surely, all those are quick sources of simple carbohydrates that are easily and almost immediately utilised by the body as a source of energy. However, if you want to stay healthy and increase your longevity as an athlete, our best advice would be to avoid consuming too many sugary ‘sports snacks’. Fuelling on low sugar nutrient-dense wholefoods when training and utilising high-glucose sources for racing-only (if that) might be the way to go. We have explained the science behind the ketogenic diet strategy in endurance sport in our previous blog here.
How Sugar Destroys Collagen Fibres
Besides making you insulin resistant and fat no matter how much you train, diet chronically high in sugar destroys collagen fibres in your skin, ligaments, tendons and gut lining. What does that mean? Your connective tissues age prematurely and you become more wrinkly, more prone to injuries and your ability to absorb important nutrients is compromised which impacts your performance and recovery as well as general health. Sugar also robs your body of vitamin C, an antioxidant and a key nutrient for your immune system and post-training recovery. Furthermore, most popular ‘sports snacks’ are high in sugar and contain none or very little of important micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that are crucial for optimal function and performance.
So what do you take with you on a 200km bike ride or when you are doing a huge morning of swim, cycle and run? Tucking a box of salad or a boiled egg into your tri suit is probably not the best option. That’s why we came up with some simple training snack hacks that are healthy and packed with nutrients while providing the necessary calories.
Top 5 Keto Snack tips for Triathletes
- Homemade energy gel
- Trail mix
- Seed & nut loaf
- Collagen bar
1. Homemade ‘energy gel’
Swap your energy gel for the real deal by blending fruit of choice with a serve of collagen powder and a little bit of coconut oil or MCTs. Put it in a little squeeze bottle that you can wash and reuse. Save your health, wallet and the environment all in one go. The fruit will provide the taste and a little bit of natural sugar as well as fibre; the MCTs or coconut oil will give you the calories and easily accessible energy and the collagen will help your tendons and ligaments to stay strong and free of injury. You can add a serve of instant coffee if you are keen on a bit of performance enhancement.
2. Trail mix
Mix your favourite nuts (wide variety is better) with some dried berries such as mulberries or goji berries as they are lower in sugar comparing to other dried fruits. Or just go for plain nuts if you don’t feel like sweet snacks. Nuts will provide plenty of energy as well as protein, fat and important micronutrients.
3. Seed & nut loaf
If you find nuts too messy, you can make your own nut& seed bread that’s not crumbly. It’s a mix between bread and nut bar. It has some carbohydrates from oats but it’s low in sugar.
- 135g sunflower seeds
- 100g flax seeds
- 80g mixed raw nuts (or nuts of choice)
- 150g rolled oats
- 4 tbsp psyllium husk
- 1tsp fine grain Himalayan pink salt
- 3 tbsp melted coconut oil
- 350ml water
Mix all ingredients in a bowl (dry ingredients first, then oil, honey and water). Mix very well until everything is completely soaked and dough becomes very thick. If the dough is too thick to stir, add few spoons of water. Transfer the dough into a silicon loaf pan and press it and smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Let it sit on the counter (best all day or night; minimum two hours). The dough is ready when it keeps the shape (try to pull the sides of the pan to see).
Preheat oven to 175C
Place loaf pan in the middle of the rack and bake for 20min.
Remove bread from loaf pan, place it upside down directly on the rack and bake for another 30-40min. It’s ready when it sounds hollow when tapped.
Let it cool completely before slicing!!!! This is important. The bread will crumble and fall apart if you try to cut it before completely cool.
Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Freeze the rest.
Without thinking much about the science behind performance fuelling, many endurance athletes love to eat biltong during and after long training sessions because it’s salty, easy to carry around and doesn’t go off. Biltong contains lots of important training and recovery nutrients such as iron, B12, sodium and protein.
If you worry about the inconvenience of fishing biltong from a plastic bag during a ride, try our Chief Beef Bar. It’s made from biltong!
5. Collagen Bar
If you really can’t be asked about making your own snacks, our collagen bar offers everything mentioned above. It’s super low in sugar but tastes sweet; it contains collagen for your performance and recovery and good fats from nuts. It’s not very big and melts on your tongue so you don’t have to waste your energy chewing