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How to Fuel Your Workout

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How to Fuel Your Workout

As a professional triathlete, coach, husband and father, I am always looking to maximize but also balance my energy. My diet as a lifelong vegetarian and now into my third year as a vegan really helps with this. As far as I know, I am one of only a few 100% plant-based professional endurance athletes around.

I was born in England, but I grew up in Tasmania, Australia and I currently live just outside Boulder in Colorado where I have lived for more than 10 years now. My first elite race was at the age of 16 and since then I have travelled the world, racing amongst the sport’s greatest athletes. I have achieved more than I ever imagined I could in triathlon and believe that this has been through patience, dedication and meticulous hard work supported by a plant-based diet.

I have been racing at the professional level for over 20 years and, at this point in my career, have achieved 19 victories, 3 World Championship medals and an Ironman victory on debut.

Fueling correctly for your workout is essential and not as simple as what you eat or drink in the 2 hours leading up to your training session. It really starts the day/night before. Ensuring that you are going to bed fueled and hydrated is crucial in setting your body up for a good workout the next day.

Eating a well-balanced, nutrient-rich dinner will help you have a good night’s rest as well as replenishing your glycogen stores which you will need access to the next day when you do your workout.  Here is an example of a typical dinner after a big day of training:

Mushroom Farro Risotto

This recipe is not going to be exact so you might need to adjust ingredients to your liking. It goes well with Italian Vegan Sausage and you can mix it up with different types of mushrooms.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium leeks
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 quart white mushrooms
  • 1 quart cremini mushrooms
  • 1-2 cups of dry farro
  • 2-3 cups veggie stock
  • 1-3 cups water
  • salt and pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • fresh or dried thyme

Preparation:

  • In a large stew pot, sauté garlic in olive oil, be sure not to brown.
  • Slice leeks down center and cut into half rounds.
  • Wash well and add to garlic, cook until soft.
  • Cut mushrooms in quarters and add to leeks, sauté for 2 minutes.
  • Add dry farro to pot and stir constantly for 2 minutes.
  • Add warm veggie stock just enough to cover farro.
  • Add salt and pepper then leave uncovered and stir occasionally.
  • Periodically add stock or water so that it is always just above the farro.
  • Cook for 40-60 minutes, the time will depend on the farro so try occasionally and season to taste with fresh or dry thyme and nutritional yeast when almost done. The dish should have a risotto texture but the farro will have a slight bite and never be as soft as rice.

Generally, I just drink water in the evening but if it has been a hot day and/or I have had a big training day, I like to add a serving of Vega® Hydrator to help top up my electrolytes.  In addition, 3-4 nights per week, after hard training days, I will use Vega Rest and Repair to aid my recovery while I am sleeping. This product contains protein, magnesium and melatonin. The protein is to rebuild/repair tissue, the magnesium helps support nerve and muscle function and the melatonin helps you sleep well.  Your body is doing most of the repair work to make you stronger while you sleep so taking this product helps to give my body what it needs to do its job.

 

Duration Low-Intensity Medium-Intensity High-Intensity
0-1hr H2O Vega Hydrator Vega Energizer
1-2hrs H2O Vega Hydrator
Vega Protein Snack Bar
Vega Energizer
Vega Hydrator
Vega Snack Bites
2-4hrs Vega Hydrator
Vega Protein Snack Bar
Banana
Vega Energizer
Vega Hydrator
Vega Protein Snack Bar
Banana
Vega Energizer
Vega Hydrator
Vega Snack Bites
4hrs+ Vega Hydrator
Vega Protein Snack Bar
Peanut Butter/Jelly Sandwich
Vega Energizer
Vega Hydrator
Vega Protein Snack Bar
Vega Snack Bites
Vega Energizer
Vega Hydrator
Vega Protein Snack Bar
Vega Snack Bites

 

I aim to get 8 hours of sleep every night.  My typical breakfast, normally 60-90 minutes before I start the workout, is 2 pieces of rye bread with almond butter, banana and cinnamon.  I have this with a cup of black coffee and a couple of glasses of water. If I have not slept that well or I have a really hard training session coming up, I will give myself a little boost by having a serving of Vega Energizer about 20-30 minutes before I start working out.

My training sessions can vary from 30 minutes to 6 hours so my fueling plan differs drastically based on this. Here is a guide on how I fuel during a workout:

Low Intensity: (1-4/10 effort level); easy/aerobic building/endurance type training e.g. 60min recovery ride, 4hr endurance ride

Moderate Intensity: (5-7/10 effort level) somewhat hard/ Triathlon 70.3 race specific training, interval work e.g. 30min controlled hill climb, 20-30min tempo run (70.3race pace)

High Intensity: (8-10/10 effort level) Very hard/VO2 Max and Anaerobic Threshold training/Olympic/Sprint specific interval work eg. Short bike or run hill efforts (30seconds-5min)

Within 10-30 minutes after finishing my session, I either have a serving of Vega Sport Protein powder, which I mix with iced water in a shaker bottle or a Vega Sport Protein bar. These two products taste amazing and have everything you need to help your body recover so you can improve your performance.

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