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Foods to Fuel Long Training Sessions 

By Angela Caprigno

If you are considering a triathlon this season, please note that adjustments to your approach on nutrition and hydration are just as important as adjustments to your workout regimen.  No different than your favorite auto in the driveway, if you want your body to go further it requires more fuel – and the better fuel you give your body, the more efficient your body will perform. 

fuelExtended workouts, many times twice daily, will take a toll on your body.  Knowing what to eat to best fuel your body and to help aid your body in faster recovery is crucial.  Below are a few recommended food items that you should consider for your weekly grocery list to ensure you meet the essential nutritional needs required for high endurance training.

Always important are vegetables and fruits rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  Equally as important are lean proteins for recovery and carbohydrates for energy that drives us through each workout.

Oatmeal has high soluble fiber content, is high in complex carbohydrates, is a good source of protein and provides a sustained release of energy into the bloodstream, which is imperative for runners. Oatmeal offers your body a regular dose of Vitamin B and is rich in minerals and antioxidants, and is known as one of the most nourishing foods for the body, especially for athletes.

Cherries are known as one of the most antioxidant-rich fruits and provide a wide range of health, performance and recovery benefits for athletes. Research has shown runners who consume tart cherry juice twice daily experience significantly less muscle pain following a long distance run. 

Even with all the different types of milk out there today, good old-fashioned milk can still be a healthy addition to an athlete’s diet. Milk is loaded with carbohydrates and protein, which makes it an ideal post exercise muscle recovery beverage for endurance athletes.

Other fueling options might include:

Bananas are one of the best pre- and post-workout snacks. Bananas are loaded with potassium and vitamin B6, and help maintain low blood sugar, regulate digestion and restock your body with lost electrolytes following workouts. Vitamin B6 in bananas acts as an anti-inflammatory agent that helps prevent cardiovascular disease. 

Walnuts are a plant-based protein, rich in fiber, B-vitamins and antioxidants, such as vitamin E. They contain the more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other nut and the anti-inflammatory nutrients are great for bone health.  Walnuts have also been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, and make a great healthy and energizing snack on-the-go.

Sweet potatoes are a starchy vegetable rich in vitamins A and C, which are both powerful antioxidants. They help lower blood pressure and are a powerful food for athletes because of their high vitamin and mineral content crucial to healthy muscle function. 

Salmon is one of the most nutrient dense proteins, full of essential Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as vitamins B12 and B6. Salmon can help reduce inflammation in our bodies due to their high content of Omega-3s. Regular consumption of this power food has been shown to decrease the risk of numerous cardiovascular problems, such as heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure.

Whey protein isolate is a dietary supplement absorbed quickly and efficiently into the body, making it an athlete’s dream. It doesn't contain any fat or cholesterol, and the amino acids provided are essential for fast recovery after a strenuous workout. 

So when preparing your grocery list for the coming week, take into account the physical demands you’re going to place on your body and shop smart to ensure you meet your daily energy needs.  Make sure you eat prior to all high intensity workouts and stay hydrated at all times.  During long duration workouts be sure to refuel at least once every 30-60 minutes, depending on what your body can handle and after a hard workout, eat a tasty carbohydrate – protein combination.

Angela Caprigno is a USA Triathlon Level II Certified Coach and also holds certifications with USA Track and Field and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. A multisport athlete herself, Angela works to ensure her clients have fun, work hard and achieve great results. To contact her, send an email to