Triathlon Coach on Endurance Race Nutrition

Triathlon World Championship

Melbourne Triathlon Coach Steve Davis has written a brief overview of what a race day nutrition strategy might look like. Every individual is very different, so use this as a guide only, and if you would like further information, or to have your race day nutrition tailored to suit your specific needs, then drop Coach Steve a message to organise a chat.


Choose foods you like that are high in carbs and low in fibre and top up your hydration.

Aim to eat a meal at least 2hours before and a snack approx 30-45min before. Often liquid meal replacements such as Ensure or Up & Go are useful for this


White toast with jam or honey (no butter/marg) or low fibre cereal

High GI fruit

500-750ml sports drink

Coffee if that’s part of your normal dietary intake


Note that performance drops by approx 15% with a 3% loss in body weight; 30% with a 5% loss in body weight, so planning and concentrating on your nutrition and hydration strategy is just as important as any other training.

Know what you want from the aid station before you get there. Make sure that you have researched what the event organisers will be providing at the aid stations and practice with that product leading in, know the CHO levels of the product and if unsure, take your own nutrition.

Aim for 1.0g of CHO per hour per kilo of body weight and 500ml to 750ml of fluid per hour during the bike and run legs. If you have a good constitution and your body can handle it, then more is better. Remember the golden rule though that you should never try anything new on race day that you haven’t tried and tested before in training.

Examples of CHO levels – please read labels for exact amounts in each of your items.

A 750ml bottle of Energy drink has around 45grams of carbohydrate.

An Energy Gel has between 25-30grams of carbohydrates

An Energy Bar has around 40-45grams of carbohydrates


Some people like to have a gel just before the swim start. This is optional. If you have already had a good breakfast and carb loaded well the days leading in, then it is physiologically unnecessary, but may be a good mental stimulus for some individuals.


Examples of what you can eat: Sports drink formula and water on bike leg for hydration. Energy gels, bars, chocolate bars, muesli bars, Banana, lollies, jam sandwiches cut in quarters and wrapped individually, doughnuts. Be creative and practice with multiple options so that you can have some variety on the bike.      

You can choose to have solids if you like a fuller stomach and variety in taste, but try to consume all of your solid foods by 40km (70.3) or 120km (IM) into the bike to avoid GI issues on the run.

In the last 30-45mins of the bike, increase your CHO and fluid intake slightly to account for nutritional requirements for the first 20mins of the run when you are mainly aiming to find rhythm and keep cool.


0 – 4km – Water to cool the body + gel if you can stomach it yet

4 – 21km – Energy drink/water, energy gels, fruit

(For IM diatance):

21-42.2km – Energy drink. Gels and fruit, Lollies, Flat cola; a great source of energy, simple sugars & caffeine. Try to avoid solid foods


First 30mins – H2O, Sports Drink, high GI fruit, lollies, jam sandwich.

First hour – Add back protein with things like Smoothie with protein powder, Chicken & avocado sandwich or formulated sports drink with protein included.

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