What we use to fuel ourselves can have a huge effect on our ability to perform in both training and racing. Obviously, adequate carbohydrate availability is crucial for any bout of high-intensity training, and performance will also be optimised with proper hydration. Prioritise both of these to ensure your body is firing as efficiently as possible during both training and racing.
Other research has revealed the following food stuffs and supplements can also help improve performance:
Caffeine: Much has been written about the benefits of caffeine, which boosts cognitive and physical function by a significant amount by stimulating the central nervous system.
When should you take caffeine during a triathlon?
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How long does caffeine stay in the body, and for how long do you feel its affects?
Beetroot juice: Beetroot helps the body use oxygen more efficiently than usual, with studies showing that it improves endurance performance by around 2%.
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Black grape juice: Drinking a glass of black grape juice every day for one month also saw a 15% improvement in time to exhaustion (roughly equating to 1-3% faster times in the real world).
Peppermint oil: Adding 0.05mls of essential peppermint oil to 500mls of water every day for 10 days could also improve endurance ability. The menthol component of peppermint is said to potentially increase speed by reducing perception of effort in hotter temperatures when ingested or used as a mouth rinse.
Beta-alanine: Studies have found that the amino acid beta-alanine can improve performance by around 3% when taken for 4-8 weeks before a competition, as it helps the body neutralise lactate accumulation.
Sodium bicarbonate: Athletes can enjoy a similar performance boost by drinking dissolved sodium bicarbonate 2hrs before exercise.
L-carnitine: Another naturally occurring amino acid, L-carnitine* has been shown to improve fat utilisation and endurance performance.
Vitamins and minerals: Magnesium, in the form of Epsom salt baths for best absorption, helps fight fatigue and boosts energy metabolism. Sodium, meanwhile, aids the absorption of fluid or carbs, improving hydration and performance. Then there are vitamin D and calcium, which reduce the risk of bone-related injury and support immunity.
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Protein optimises recovery and adaptations to training by boosting protein synthesis, so should be part of every meal and taken as part of your recovery strategy.
How important is protein?
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Also consider walnuts, avocado, peanuts, spinach and fennel, which can support the elasticity of our cardiovascular system.
Spinach, blackcurrant, cherry and blueberry juice, has been shown to reduce oxidative stress post-exercise so that you you can train harder, sooner.
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