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Nutrition for Adventure Racing / Triathlons

Posted in Sports and exercise nutrition

Adventures races are endurance races that cover a variety of distances, durations and terrain. These events are usually 'continuous' and all adventure races include more than one discipline, commonly trail-running, off-road trekking, mountain-biking and kayaking or canoeing. Adventure races differ greatly so you should research the event requirements. They are scheduled throughout the year so competitors should choose their key races and allow sufficient time for recovery between their chosen events. Some well known adventure races in Ireland include Gaelforce, Achill ROAR and Killarney Adventure Race.

Routine endurance training increases your daily energy (calorie), carbohydrate and protein needs.  Failure to meet your daily nutrient needs can lead to persistent fatigue, poor recovery, illness, and unwanted weight loss. For this reason, a diet and hydration plan that meets your nutrient and fluid needs are vital to performing at your best.

Training Diet

Carbohydrate is the most critical fuel source for adventure race training. Carbohydrate is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. Fuel stores are limited so regular replenishment is essential. A diet high in carbohydrate is essential to keep these levels topped up.

Good sources of carbohydrates include:

Depending on volume, frequency and intensity of training, daily carbohydrate requirements range from 8-12g/kg body weight.

Protein needs are also heightened to meet daily protein turnover needs and assist in muscle repair.

Good quality sources of protein include:

To meet high requirements, ideally these should be consumed at every meal. For example, a dairy product in the morning, some meat and nuts at lunch time and a lean meat in the evening. Protein supplements may also be used, but should be considered in line with overall goals. Great foods to use around exercise include both protein and carbohydrate, such as a dairy snacks, peanut butter sandwiches or nut-containing muesli bars. Daily requirements for protein in athletes range from 1.4-1.7g/kg body weight.

At least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day should be included in the diet to ensure the athlete meets their daily vitamin and mineral needs.

To recover from training and to replenish fuel stores for the next training session, you should eat after training. 1-1.5g of carbohydrate per kilogram body weight should be consumed within 30 minutes of exercise where possible and a small portion of protein (e.g. 0.2g per kg body weight) is ideal.

Top tips for your training diet

Fluid Needs

During training you will lose fluid through sweating. Unless those fluid losses are replaced by drinking (sports drinks/water), you run the risk of becoming dehydrated which can cause fatigue and impair your performance.

Maintaining hydration levels throughout the event can be a challenge. Particularly in hot conditions it can be easy to become dehydrated. It is important to evaluate your sweat losses and fluid needs during training. Competitors may need to balance carrying weight with minimum water intake requirements due to the carrying capacity of fluids for long sections without refill possibilities. Training is a good opportunity to practice fluid replacement. Suitable drinks during training include water, diluted fruit juices and sports drinks.

Pre event

During the event


Other tips

Sample training diet:

Time Meal

Breakfast cereal and low fat milk


Fruit juice

Training run

Isotonic drink

Post training

Low fat yoghurt and fruit

Fruit juice/flavoured milk/sports drink


Wholemeal bread/bap/roll and low fat spread

Chicken/Ham/Tinned fish/Egg

Fruit juice

Slice of fruit cake/Banana cake/Cereal bar



Potato/Pasta/Rice (Half of plate)

Salad and low fat dressing/Vegetables

Glass of low fat milk

Fruit salad


Weetabix and low fat milk

For more detailed expert advice you can contact a sports dietitian through the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute; info@indi.ie

Created by Joanne Walsh, MINDI, BSc (Hons) Human Nutrition, Dip Dietetics October 2013, reviewed by the SNIG April 2016, Review date: April 2019

© 2016 Irish Nutrition and Dietetics Institute, INDI. All rights reserved. May be reproduced in its entirety provided the source is acknowledged. This information is not meant to replace advice from your medical doctor or individual counselling withadietitian.  It is intended for educational and informational purposes 

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