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Take a Dip: One Way to Enjoy Fruits and Vegetables

By Marni Sumbal

Triathletes are typically known for having great discipline and motivation, in both life and sport. Perhaps it is that a triathlon is one single event consisting of three separate sports requiring an efficient body, proper fueling and a strong mind.

Triathletes are also known to be great planners. Bike shoes – check. Running shoes – check. Goggles and cap – check. If a training session is on “the plan,” triathletes will find a way, whether rain, shine, snow, dark or light, to complete the workout and log it in to TrainingPeaks or another favorite training log program.

dipsBeing a great planner is not a prerequisite in being a great triathlete, but most swim-bike-run lovers would prefer to follow a consistent yet flexible training plan rather than simply relying on spontaneity and the hope that their body is ready for race day.

One area that often lacks among triathletes is planning meals and snacks. Having adequate liquids, calories and electrolytes during a training session is a necessity in order to encourage performance gains. Triathletes often find little difficulty in planning the fuel (sports nutrition products) that will increase the chance of having a quality workout, but meals and snacks are a different story.

The missing link for so many is usually the nutrients that are lacking in optimal quantities throughout the day. These nutrients are necessary to support metabolic processes, improve immune system functioning and to help reach body composition and fitness goals.

Certainly athletes have good intentions when wanting to eat healthy in order to encourage a change in body composition but plant foods should not be overlooked as an excellent source of potential fuel. Not only do the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) in fruits and vegetables help to maximize overall health and performance gains, but a diet emphasizing foods with fewer ingredients may promote a well-balanced gastrointestinal (GI) tract in athletes who routinely experience stomach distress during training and racing.

Athletes have specific nutrient needs and a balanced diet rich in whole grains, healthy unsaturated fats and quality protein is strongly encouraged in order to help meet daily recommendations and to decrease nutritional deficiencies.Starting today, start planning a few ways to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your nutrition plan. Try some of the following sides to complement your favorite fruits and veggies

Sweet Cinnamon Yogurt Dip

  • 1 cup plain non fat yogurt
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ½ Tbsp. cinnamon
  1. Mix together and chill.
  2. Serve with fresh cut fruit.

Peachy Salsa

  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large peach, pitted andchopped
  • 2 medium pears, cored and chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  1. Combine all ingredients. Toss well.
  2. Chill.
  3. Serve with fresh veggies, in a sandwich/wrap or as a topping to a bed of greens.

Garlic and Feta Yogurt Dip

  • 1 cup Greek style yogurt
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 Tbsp fresh minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • Black pepper (to your taste)
  1. Combine the basil, garlic, yogurt, and feta cheese in a bowl and stir until smooth. Optional – use food processor.
  2. Chill.
  3. Serve with fresh veggies, in potato or egg salads or use as a spread to bread/wraps/pitas.

Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) and holds a certification by the American Dietetic Association in Adult Weight Management. She is a Level I Certified USA Triathlon Coach, a 4x Ironman finisher and an Oakley Women ambassador. Marni is currently training for her second Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Marni enjoys public speaking and writing, and has several published articles in Lava Magazine, Hammer Endurance News, CosmoGirl magazine and Triathlete Magazine. She also contributes monthly to and To contact Marni, email or visit

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.