Fat to Fuel Your Ironman

Fat to Fuel Your Ironman

Six-Time Ironman World Champion Mark Allen swore by fat as a fuel and, so should you…

Unless it’s a sprint distance, no amount of carb-loading will get you through the whole of your triathlon race, as your fuel tank can only store enough energy for about two hours of racing.

However, our stored fat even in a lean body, has enough juice to easily get you through to beat the 17-hour Ironman cut off time.

That is because stored fat delivers stable energy release which doesn’t over stress the body anywhere near as much as replenishing continuing depleting carb stores and this is key to maximising your performance.

The secret is keeping below 70% of your max effort (conversational pace) for as long as you can so that the body is primarily burning fat insted of carbs.

Keep your candles lit

Hang around any experienced athletes long enough and the topic of ‘not burning too many candles’ will inevitably be mentioned…

For those of you not yet indoctrinated to the glossary of triathlon specific terms – it basically refers to what your burn up early in the race you will pay for double at the end of it.

If you’re not careful, the finish line can seem further away that it would be had you stuck at your most efficient pace, rather than starting the swim too hard, grinding the bike up that hill or surging on the run past the adoring crowds.

Of course, it can take a lifetime to master your body but with the help of a good coach and the science of nutrition available to them, you should get to that finish line feeling strong, fast and euphoric and here are a few tips to help you:

  1. Reduce sugar and processed foods in your diet – These can accustom the body to fuel carbs instead of fat.  Reduce them in your diet and the opposite happens and a clever adaption towards fuelling from stored fat naturally occurs.
  2. Increase good fats in your diet – Oily fish, nuts, avocados, coconut and olive oil to name a few help your body recognise these fats as a prime fuel source as well as helping repair the body from the damage of training.
  3. Starting slow and hungry – Its common to be so nervous on race day that you just can’t stomach a breakfast.  That’s not always a bad thing to get used to providing that the intensity you start of with is low so you can utilise your body’s natural fat stores instead of deferring to carbs.

    – Give yourself a decent 15 minute warm up once a week where you start on empty to encourage your body to burn fat and then when you get in from training that high protein (eggs) and carb (porridge) breakfast will be readily absorbed into your body repairing your body and fuelling your body for a super charged day!

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