Triathlon Nutrition Plan Part 3: Water vs Electrolytes vs Gatorade vs Coconut vs All-in-One

– Hey, what’s up triathlon traniacs. Triathlon Taren here with
your daily triathlon video helping you nail your
training, your racing, becoming a better triathlete,
hopefully resulting in having a more enjoyable life in the end. Today, is the third part of
our series where we’re taking you through figuring out and nailing your triathlon race nutrition
strategy and what we’re talking about today is fluids. Now, we’re gonna be going
through the five most common options that you can use for
hydration during a race and we’re going to be going through
them in order of what I feel is the, probably, the worst
option, but, how and who should consider using it, to
what I feel is the best option. Obviously, the most common is water. The pros of it are that it
tends not to cause any digestive issues, it’s easy to
access, it’s inexpensive, you’re never gonna be
worried about finding access to water when you get to a race. They have it everywhere. The downsides to water are probably, larger than the benefits, however. Because there are no carbs in
water, it’s actually tough for our body to assimilate the fluids. Secondly, it doesn’t have any
electrolytes in it and that ratio of fluids to
electrolytes is critical for performance in our body
and I’m not even talking like, race performance, I’m talking
not dying performance. When you start taking on a ton
of water and you’re sweating out a ton of electrolytes,
the ratio of water to electrolytes gets skewed in
favor of water and it’s called hypernatremia and essentially,
it’s like water poisoning. It’s just as bad as dehydration. The people that might consider
using just water, however, are people like friends of
mine who have really sensitive stomachs and can’t really take
on any sort of electrolyte drink because even the
taste of it makes them gag. In this case, what I recommend
if you’re one of those types of athletes is you should
be taking your water with salt tabs because then,
it’ll keep that balance of fluids to electrolytes
correct in your body. The second option is that if you want to stick with something natural you can go with something like coconut water. It’s got a couple of benefits to it. Obviously, it’s natural. Some people react really well
to it and because it’s natural it’s easy for some people to digest. The downsides to it, however,
coconut is a fairly strong taste so, you’ll develop a
fair bit of taste fatigue, especially over longer races. Electrolyte drinks are designed
with a science of what’s been proven to work the
best have about a two to one sodium potassium ratio, where
coconut water is more like a one to three sodium potassium ratio. This could result in developing
cramps, digestive issues, all kinds of bad things that
you’re gonna end up in the port-a-potty dealing with. The third option that
you could be going with. Slightly better than those
other two is a heavy electrolyte drink where all of your
calories, all of your fluid, all of your electrolytes
are coming from that heavy electrolyte drink. This is something like Gatorade. It has a fair a bit of pros to it. Number one, very easy to access. You can pick up all of
your race nutrition at any corner store on the way into the race. You’re probably gonna have
access to it at the race if something goes wrong and
because it’s an all-in-one solution, you get everything. You don’t have to tape a bunch of gels and chews and bars onto your bike. I actually like taking something
like that for a race that’s very short, like a sprint distance race. The downsides, however, to
it, number one is you can’t customize the ratios of anything. Carbs to the electrolytes it’s given. Number two, the taste of these
strong electrolyte drinks tends to be really strong,
so, you do get that mouth fatigue and you don’t
want to take another sip towards the end of a race. The third thing is that it is
so strong that it’s putting a ton of pressure on your stomach
at a time that there isn’t a lot of blood in it because
the blood is pumping into your arms and legs, it ends up
often developing gut rot. You don’t feel very good at
the end of the race and because it’s so strong as well, with
really processed sugars, typically, you might have a sugar crash. The fourth option and this
is I think where were getting into very good scientifically
proven, becoming more common options, this is to take an
all-in-one specifically designed nothing but liquid nutrition
solution for the entire race. The pros to this are immense. In a lot of cases, these formulas
are designed specifically for you with your sweat
rates, your weight in mind, your nutrition plan in mind. The second benefit is that
because it’s designed with current science in mind, you
tend to have products that are designed with ease of
digestion kept in mind. So, these tend to be
very easy on the body. Very light, very tasty. You can often customize the taste profile. All good stuff and because
it’s just liquid nutrition, it’s easy to carry until
you get to the cons of this. Because everything is so
specifically designed to you. If anything goes wrong and
this is your primary source of fuel and fluids, you’re
gonna be in trouble. If you end up dropping a
bottle, if you end up having to figure out how to replenish
that stock of that nutrition product while you’re at a
race, probably gonna be in pretty tough, ’cause a lot
of these things are special order, special design,
with long lead times and they tend to be quite expensive. Now, the fifth and what I
feel is the best option that’s gonna work for the most
amount of people is taking electrolytes and fluid in your
bottles and saving calories for your pocket and this
is where you start using a light electrolyte drink. This is something like Skratch. This is a product where,
in the course of a bottle, you might only have about
70 to 90 calories, but, you’re taking in just enough electrolytes. The benefits to this are
you’ve got a little bit of calories and that little bit
of calories helps you absorb the electrolytes when you’re
taking it, but, it’s not so much calories that it’s
overloading your gut. So, most people tend to
digest this really well. Also, because these are
designed to be very light, you don’t end up getting that
taste fatigue that you get from something that has a
lot stronger of the taste and on average, what I find is
that this is the solution that most triathletes are able
to deal well with because it tends to have a really nice
trade-off of easy to source no matter where you are,
it’s easy to pack and they digest really easily. The cons, however, are
that, because really, all you’re taking on is enough
electrolytes and a little bit of carbs to digest those
electrolytes, you then have to carry calories on your bike
or in your jersey pocket. If you want to go and get our
four day free program on how to calculate and schedule and
figure out your ideal race nutrition strategy, go to
and over the course of four
days, you are going to get everything, start to
finish, laid out for your individual circumstance and
some knowledge on how you can customize it for future
races and different digestive issues that you might have. If you aren’t yet subscribed
and you want to make sure that you don’t miss the fourth
part of this, “How To Dial In: Your Race Nutrition Triathlon
Strategy” make sure you hit that subscribe button below
and hit the notification bell so, that you don’t miss future
videos like that next part. If you want to see all of the
videos in this race nutrition series, hit the playlist right
there and if you just want to go on a binge watching
spree and see some really good triathlon coverage, check out the corner video
that we did up there.

Comments 18

  • What did option #3 do to deserve not to get full on screen title ? 🙁
    Great work though man, you're a massive part of my inspiration right now 😀

  • Did you ever figure out what happened to you in Austin with all that peeing and such? I feel like you had at least a theory to start

  • Diluted sports drink maybe? I find it works for me well.

  • Thank you! Could you suggest a site where I could order the "custom" liquid nutrition?

  • Taren I'm allergic to coconuts, peanut butter and all other nuts and on a budget. What about organic Gatorade or watering down regular Gatorade or Propel? These are really easy to find.

  • For my first half-iron last year I used an all-in-one by EFS (I think) with a couple pre cut bars on the bike. On the Run I drank Gatorade from the aide stations and supplemented with a few gels. It seemed to work pretty well for (no real issues) and was simple to execute (had three bottles on my bike – a bit heavy though). On the shorter distances I don't think in race nutrition plays nearly as big role as half iron and longer.

  • I think you meant to say hypOnatremia not hypERnatremia. In this case, losing electrolytes and increased water intake (usually huge amounts) dilutes your sodium (and other electrolytes). This is called hyponatremia (water intoxication). Sorry for the mini biology lecture 🙂 Cheers!

  • Once again, as I commented on “part 1”, it is not HYPERnatremia but instead HYPOnatremia. The idea is correct, but just wrong name

  • Right now I’m following a free beginner plan that was given to me, I’m thinking about buying the beginner half marathon package on your website to prep for the Sunrise sprint in Vietnam. Taking baby steps before jumping all into an Ironman. Is there contact info with coach Pat available on the site prior to purchase?

  • Hi, love your videos, very interesting.
    Went to your site for the nutrition guide did not receive the e-mail?

  • why is there no link in the description?

  • Going to practice my nutrition like I practice swimming biking and running! Thanks for the help!

  • Dear Taren. The recent research showed NO benefit of coconut water.

  • Nutrition (hydration / fuel) is so important. Thank you for this series!

  • I am big fan of using either Infinite or Carbo-Pro (need to mix in your out electrolytes) either product works very well for an all-in-one drink. That being said, I do fee drinking everything leaves my gut a little off and have trouble with only liquids for +11hrs. I like to take a cliff bar and cut it into small pieces and "nibble" away about two bars, on the bike, over the ironman distance or 1 on 70.3. As for the run, still trying for nail that one down. Best lesson so far is to stay away from the coke until you are inside the last 45mins / hour of the race. Any sooner and the sugar crash hits hard. Thanks for the great info!!

  • Hey Taren, water usually DOES have electrolytes in it (except tap water!). So any bottled mineral water usually has the perfect and physiological amount of natrium and potassium (and so on) in it. And by physiological I mean neither hypo- nor hypertonic, but isotonic. And that is the problem with those so-called "heavy electrolyte drinks". They are all very hypertonic, which makes them more difficult to absorb. Just so you know:) peace

  • Hello Taren, I find your videos very informative and also like the fact that you are promoting a plant based diet. Could you comment on this video that is also research based and tells the opposit:

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