Fueling the Engine with Pro Triathlete Emma-Kate Lidbury

Fueling the Engine with Pro Triathlete Emma-Kate Lidbury

Ever wondered what a professional triathlete eats in the days leading up to a race? How do they ensure their bodies are ready to perform optimally?

PowerTap sponsored athlete, Emma-Kate Lidbury, gives us an insight into what she typically eats — and why — in the days leading into a race. She works with Dr. Stacy Sims, of Osmo Nutrition, on all things fueling and diet related and together they have found a food plan that works for Emma-Kate (or Eccles as she is commonly known).

Emma-Kate takes a bite out of her pre-race fuel.

After two months away from the race scene through injury and illness, Eccles recently finished 5th at Ironman 70.3 Vineman and will be in action again this Sunday at Ironman 70.3 Calgary. Here's what she had to say:

Two days out — time to start thinking about what your body needs for racing!

What: Why:

Breakfast: 1 cup gluten free oats with almond milk, almond butter, salt and cinnamon (soaked overnight). 1 x hard boiled egg. Coffee (black Americano) and water and/or Osmo Active Hydration.

I cut out gluten and dairy several months ago and have found it really helps improve my digestion as well as reduce inflammation. My body just feels and functions so much better without it. This oats combo is one of my favorite pre race breakfasts — simple, yes, but a good mix of carbs, fats and protein. Before racing, my stomach and I definitely prefer simple!

Coffee — because I can't function without it!

Water/Osmo — it's essential to stay on top of hydration, especially this close to a race. I tend to drink between 4 to 5 liters of fluid a day (note, that's fluid, not plain water — it's important to get the electrolytes in)

Train: 90-minute ride, including some short build intervals up to race pace watts. Drink ~35oz Osmo Active Hydration; fuel with half Bonkbreaker bar.

Immediately after: 10oz almond milk with 1 scoop Osmo Acute Recovery

Important to stay hydrated during training and keep glycogen levels up.

Morning snack: half avocado mixed with almond milk, cinnamon, unsweetened cocoa powder, ginger. Water/Osmo

Yes, I realize this seems very weird (and it is!) but it's a great way to get in some good fat (avocado) and also satisfies my sweet tooth without eating sugar. I removed all sugar from my diet two months ago (a nasty stomach infection made it medically necessary) and have felt so good subsequently that I have only reintroduced sugar when doing high intensity training or racing. I highly recommend life without sugar — cutting it out is hard to begin with, but well worth it ultimately

Lunch: 1 cup quinoa, chicken, small salad. Water/Osmo

I usually eat giant salads for lunch but begin dialing back the salad here so as to lower fiber intake pre-race. The quinoa is a great source of carbs and also high in protein.

Afternoon snack: 1 peeled green apple with almond butter. Water/Osmo

A great afternoon snack! I am a big almond butter fan. Apple is peeled to reduce fiber intake.

Train: pre-dinner run, light 30-40mins with a few strides to finish.

Immediately after/while preparing dinner: 8-10oz Osmo Acute Recovery with almond milk, cinnamon, ginger, cocoa powder, sprinkle of cayenne pepper

I love my post workout recovery shakes and am often experimenting with new ideas. This one is a winner! The sprinkling of cayenne pepper is not only good for the digestive system but it also wakes up the taste buds. It's especially important to get protein in right after working out this close to the race.

Dinner: Wild salmon, small salad, brown rice

Pre bed: 1 scoop Osmo Acute Recovery with almond milk. Herbal tea.

A good protein hit here with a small portion of salad and carbs to top up glycogen post-run.

I find it helps with both sleep and recovery to have a protein hit right before bed.

Typical ingredients for one of my protein shakes.

Day before race &mdash it's almost race day, eat and drink well today!

What: Why:

Breakfast: variety is the spice of life, but not for a pro triathlete the day before a race! Yes, you guessed it…Breakfast today is the same as yesterday and I typically have this early ahead of my first workout, an easy swim at the race venue

Keep the glycogen levels topped up with foods your body is used to — nothing new allowed now!

Train: 20-25min swim at race venue

Immediately after: 10oz almond milk with Osmo Acute Recovery. Handful of walnuts or almonds.

Straight out onto bike for final pre-race ride, usually 45-60mins. May have few Bonkbreaker bites. Washed down with bottle of Osmo Active Hydration and another Acute Recovery hit post-ride with nuts.

Important to get that post-workout protein recovery hit ASAP plus some easy calories to tide me over until post-ride.

Lunch: 1.5 cups quinoa, small sweet potato, chicken, half avocado, olive oil. Water/Osmo

Upping the carb intake now to ensure glycogen stores are well stocked. Remove all salad to reduce fiber intake

Afternoon snack 1: 1 peeled green apple with almond butter. Water/Osmo

Yep, you guessed it — same as yesterday!

Afternoon snack 2: Osmo Acute Recovery with almond milk

Tides me over until dinner

Early dinner: very similar, if not the same, as lunch. Water/Osmo.

I tend to eat early here so that I can get dinner digested and go to bed early before the alarm goes off at silly o'clock on race day

Pre-bed: either another Osmo Acute Recovery shake with almond milk or, depending on hunger, a half cup of gluten free oats with almond milk and a scoop of Osmo Acute mixed in.

A good race eve pre-bed protein hit

Preparing my race day fuel.

Race day — you know it's race day when you're eating breakfast in the dark!

What: Why:

Breakfast: my go-to brekkie — gluten free oats, almond milk, salt, cinnamon, but no almond butter.

Coffee; water/Osmo

I remove the almond butter here to keep fat intake lower, which I have found helps my digestive system on race day

Between brekkie and swim start: bottle of Osmo Active Hydration; half Bonkbreaker bar 20mins before swim start. Water.

Important to stay hydrated pre-race and have a final little calorie hit shortly before the race begins

On the bike: 20-24oz Osmo Active per hour; 1 x Bonkbreaker bar in the early miles followed by 1.5-2 packs of Clif Shot Bloks

I am a big drinker, so actually have to be careful not to drink too much. Of course, it is largely dependent on heat/humidity, but as a general rule this is what I aim to drink. I used to only ever take gels, but have found that the Bonkbreaker bars give me more sustained energy and avoid big energy spikes and crashes. Towards the back end of the ride I move towards semi-solids to prepare for the run

On the run: 1 pack of Clif Shot Bloks then from halfway onwards one glucose tablet plus Coke/water at each aid station as needed

By this stage of the race I find it hard to stomach “real food” so move to semi solids in the early miles then pure sugar hits in the latter stages. It's important to keep monitoring how you feel so you can make adjustments accordingly. Sometimes I need more, sometimes less.

Post-race: at Vineman recently I was handed an icy cold almond milk Osmo Acute Recovery shake on the finish line — now that was GOOD!

I look to get in a good protein hit ASAP and then refuel in the athlete food tent. This varies from race to race and quite often it's hard to get down many calories at all, but once I've warmed down a little I can usually stomach something. At Vineman this was chicken and fruit.

Within two hours: a good meal that will help refuel and regenerate you. I often love steak and fries, but also try to get a decent salad/veggies in too for antioxidants

Your body has taken a beasting so it's important to start rebuilding it. I think it's also good to enjoy some of your favorite foods, which is where the steak and fries comes in!

Later that day: I'll continue to eat according to hunger with my evening meal being largely protein led and have a protein shake before bed to aid recovery and sleep. It's also important to rehydrate well — for me, this can be with water, salted water or Osmo

Emma-Kate at Ironman 70.3 Vineman on July 13, 2014. //Photo credit: Larry Rosa

Post race: I think every triathlete in the land wakes up post-race feeling a little sore, tired and hungry! I often have a big breakfast to refuel — eggs, spinach, avocado, arugula plus my usual gluten free oats combo. It's important to eat well today and refuel your body to help the recovery process.

About Emma-Kate

Emma-Kate is a professional triathlete who races on the Ironman 70.3 triathlon circuit. With two top 10 finishes at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships to her name — as well as six Ironman 70.3 titles mdash; she is widely regarded as an exciting talent in the elite endurance world. A former journalist, she only discovered triathlon when asked to write a feature on the sport in 2005. She has a first class honors degree in English and Sports Science from Loughborough University, Britain's premier sports university, and a postgraduate degree in newspaper journalism.

She moved from her native UK to Southern California in early 2013, where she still lives, trains and loves the sunshine.