Triathlon nutrition: 6 tips for the off-season

Adapting your fuel intake during the triathlon off-season is essential. But don’t forget to experiment with and enjoy your nutritional consumption…

© Daniel Seex



Late autumn morning rides can be rather chilly. This leaves a nutritional dilemma – but one solved by performance biochemist Dr Rob Child. “In Belgium I saw guys who weren’t drinking enough in a race. They said it’s because the bottle gets really cold on the outside, which puts them off drinking. So I provided a simple solution – a thermal water bottle filled with hot drink.” Skratch Labs’ Apple and Cinnamon mix is one mix that’s designed for hot water.


The NHS officially recommended UK residents take a vitamin D supplement through the off-season months. That’s because the skin requires a high sun to make good amounts of vitamin D. It’s a point supported by Indurance’s Dr Will Mangar, who undertakes blood tests for vitamin D. “Most UK athletes are deficient in this vitamin, which can lead to reduced muscle contraction, and an increase in stress fractures and upper respiratory tract infections.” It’s recommended you take a daily vitamin D supplement of 200IU (or 5 microgrammes).


“It’s impossible to maintain race weight all-year-long because you just raise the chances of picking up an injury or illness,” explains Australian elite triathlete Tamsyn Moana-Veale, who says putting on a few pounds is absolutely fine during the off-season. “This is especially important for girls who, in my experience, can become fixated on body composition more than men. But girls have to be careful because this is a surefire way to pick up a bone injury.” While Moana-Veale doesn’t recommend a daily hit of KFC, be kind to yourself and ‘blow-out’ more than you would during peak training periods. She also suggests a calcium supplement might be a good idea for female athletes.


Bored of commercial glucose, fructose… any -tose bars?! Then heed the advice of multiple Kielder Marathon winner Ceri Rees and play around with nutrition. “I take sesame bars on long runs. They’re covered in honey so are good
for energy and quite tasty,” he says. “I also love salted peanuts on hot runs. They digest better than you think.” Okay, you might not be running in the heat but you get the experimental point!

60min recipe: energy bars

Malty Fruit Bars

Four homemade energy balls

Savoury Snacks

Cheap cycling nutrition ideas for triathletes


This sounds an obvious one but remember to drink while training. “When the weather cools, athletes can forget to take on fluid,” says environmental physiology expert Nadia Gaoua on training in the winter. “Drinking around 400-500ml an hour is a good starting place.” If your mind’s of a forgetful persuasion, set your heart rate monitor to go off every 15mins on the bike to remind you to drink.


It’s not just training fuel that you should play around with – experiment with general nutrition, too. “Studies have shown, for instance, that consuming barley starch the night before a session or race could improve glucose tolerance the next day,” says head of Secret Training nutrition Tim Lawson. It’s all to do with fermenting.


This feature is part of our triathlon off-season training series

Off-season sports psychology: 6 tips for a winning mindset

12 off-season triathlon training tips

Off-season weight training


Triathlon nutrition: 10 common mistakes triathletes make

Overhaul your diet this autumn