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Nutrition Triathlon

Fuel up with Pre-Workout Snacks before your Swim, Bike or Run

Always in a bind on what to eat before a workout?

We’ve gathered some pre-workout snacks or meals to suit your swimming, biking, and running regime from IRONMAN Certified Coaches.

Besides fitting training in everyday, trying to dial in your nutrition can be one of the most difficult aspects of triathlon training. Each discipline is different and requires different fueling, so read on for expert advice on what works best before you get to work.

Fruit and yogurt can pack a punch before your swim. (
Fruit and yogurt can pack a punch before your swim. (

Swim snaps

Fruit & yogurt: Greek yogurt is packed with protein and adding a fruit of your choice will add carbs and a little sugar to burn off during your workout. Bananas pair well with yogurt and the potassium will help with your post-workout recovery. Aim to consume this meal 45 to 60 minutes before your swim.

  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 banana (or ½ cup fruit of your choice)
  • ¼ cup of granola (optional)
Toast some banana and nut butter up for a quick meal. (
Toast some banana and nut butter up for a quick meal. (

Toast & nut butter: This is the perfect high carb, low fat, and low protein snack to eat 60 minutes before a morning swim session. Organic whole grain bread and almond butter are always a yummy choice, but with the variety of nut butters on the market, you might opt to try something new like cashew or sunflower seed butter.

  • 1 piece of organic toast
  • 1-2 tablespoons of nut butter
  • 1 sliced banana and ½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Bike bites

Banana & nut butter: Eat this before cycling because it contains 30 grams of quality carbohydrates, as well as a small amount of protein. This small amount of protein along with 10 grams of healthy fat will keep you energized for a longer workout. Make sure to limit the almond or sunflower butter to a 2 tablespoon serving.

Consuming this snack roughly 60 minutes before a cycling workout will go a long way toward stabilizing your energy over the first few hours of your ride. This snack is also gluten, wheat, peanut, and dairy free and contains no added sugar.

  • 1 banana
  • 1 serving of almond or sunflower seed butter

Scrambled eggs & English muffin: If you have 90 minutes to two hours, make yourself a plate of scrambled eggs and toast an English muffin. Not a fan of the nooks and crannies? You can substitute the muffin for toast or a tortilla. The carbs in this meal are key for shorter and/or more intense workouts.

  • 1-2 eggs scrambled
  • 1 English muffin toasted
  • Substitute muffin for toast or tortilla (optional)
Mash and spread avocado on toast. (
Mash and spread avocado on toast. (

Run Ready

Avocado toast: If you have 30 to 60 minutes before a run, simply mash about ¼ of an avocado onto a slice of brown rice bread. (The rest of the avocado can be used for a meal later in the day.)

Avocados are also known for their quality nutrients and fat. This snack contains close to 30 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of fat, and about 4 grams of protein, and is easy to digest besides being gluten, wheat, peanut, and dairy free.

  • 1 slice brown rice bread
  • 1/4 of an avocado
  • 12 ounces of water

Sweet potato: With more time to digest pre-workout fuel (90 minutes – 2 hours), we can increase the carb load slightly and add in a small amount of fat and protein to help sustain energy levels.

  • 1 small sweet potato cooked
  • Toppings of your choice (as long as your stomach can handle it) cinnamon, butter, scallions, Greek yogurt, cheese to name a few.
  • 12 oz water

Friendly Reminder

  • If you can’t eat a couple of hours before a workout, still take in some fuel even if it’s 30 minutes before. This is where a simple banana, energy bar, or sports drink comes in handy.
  • Rule of thumb: eat one hour before exercise: 1g carb/1kg body weight.
  • Eat as much “real food” as possible.