As a sports nutritionist, I have a chance to take a look at the supplementation protocols of dozens of athletes each month. From energy powders to multivitamins to fancy performance enhancers, it’s pretty rare to come across a triathlete who is not popping one pill or another, or experimenting with some kind of a diet.
But shockingly, no matter what an athlete is doing from a nutrition standpoint, I rarely see people actually taking care of their digestive system – where not only does all the vitamin, mineral and nutrient absorption take place, but also 99% of immune system activity!
In other words, by taking care of your gut, you’ll get more of what you need from your food (or supplements) and also boost your immune system.
A great place to start taking care of your triathlete gut is with fermented foods, which are naturally full of probiotics and good bacteria that can line your digestive tract and keep your gut healthy. It’s not hard to find fermented foods, as they’ve been around for thousands of years, including Asian natto, kimchi, kefir; Middle Eastern pickles , yogurts, and torshi; European sauerkraut and rakfisk, Pacific poi and kanga pirau and American kombucha and chocolate.
I’ve written before on fermented foods, talked about probiotics in podcasts, and they’re included on nearly every level of my Superhuman Food Pyramid, but in today’s article, I simply want to show you a sample day of how you as a triathlete can eat to support your gut, without just popping a bunch of probiotic capsules (which I only do when traveling).
A sample menu including fermented foods
Breakfast: Full fat, plain Greek yogurt with cinnamon, handful of blueberries and almonds or almond butter. Add protein powder to yogurt for extra calories.
Mid-morning snack: 1 bottle Kombucha.
Lunch: Vegetable salad with avocados, olives, olive oil, pumpkin seeds.
Afternoon/workout support snack: Cup of Kefir with protein powder and dark chocolate.
Dinner: Beef or fish with sweet potatoes, yam, rice of quinoa, and side of sauerkraut or kimchi.
Of course, there are many variations of a probiotic, fermented food rich diet, and one very good source of recipes that we use in our house is the cookbook “Nourishing Traditions”. Eating more natural probiotics you’ll notice less gas, less bloating, a stronger immune system, better digestion, and even quicker trips to the bathroom! Now go take care of your triathlete gut!
For more advice from Ben Greenfield, check out his training and nutrition plans on TrainingPeaks.
TrainingPeaks contributor Ben Greenfield, M.S. PE, NSCA-CPT, CSCS, is recognized as one of the top fitness, triathlon, nutrition and metabolism experts in the nation. For more information on coaching and training with Ben, check out his blog/podcasts, follow him on Twitter, or visit his Facebook page.