Arlene Ayoub shares reasons why she cut sugar from her nutrition and added back the good fats. We discover how eating correctly enhanced her endurance and energy.
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BRAD BROWN: You’re listening to The Kona Edge. I’m Brad Brown. It’s time to chat some Ironman nutrition. We’re joined by Arlene Ayoub once again.
Arlene, welcome back. Nice to touch base. We haven’t spoken at all about your nutrition and it’s often said that it’s the 4th discipline. Would you agree with that statement? Is it right up there as one of the most important legs of triathlon to keep you going?
How a change in diet can perfect your Ironman nutrition
ARLENE AYOUB: It’s hugely important and I think we all know people who have had to bow out of races because of nutrition issues, gastric issues. We started eating keto about a year and a half ago, so we eliminated a lot of sugars in our daily diet. We put more fat back in, and a lot of protein, and it’s really worked for my husband and I. And in terms of racing, making those changes in our diet has turned us into fat burning athletes when we run and when we race.
I think nutrition wise that’s the biggest change we’ve both made. Sugar was not my friend. I try and avoid sugar at all costs in a race. That being said, on the run if I need half a glass of coke I’m going to take it to finish the day. But overall, we try and pick supplements and nutrition that have as few sugars, and proper hydrates, as possible.
Consuming that sugar when you need to boost your Ironman nutrition
BRAD BROWN: I was going to ask about our fueling perspective on race day . Most races have the normal Gatorades and that sort of thing, which are packed with sugar. Those things are basically sugar water, that’s all it is. How do you feel on race day, since you’ve cut out most sugars and most carbs? What’s the strategy?
ARLENE AYOUB: Water. And make sure you have enough salt. On a longer race, something like Kona, if I do have to stop and have a Gatorade, I’ll still have it. But I’ll take a couple of mouthfuls perhaps and keep the water going.
BRAD BROWN: It’s fascinating. You talk about the water. I do quite a bit of work with a professor here in South Africa who is fairly well known globally, Professor Tim Noakes. And it’s just amazing. He’s a huge proponent of the low carb high fat diet and it’s phenomenal. Seeing athletes, and some top athletes, who race that way and the results they’re getting.
Become a slow, fat burning engine to balance your Ironman nutrition
As you say, you burn fat. You turn into this slow burning diesel engine that can just go for days.
ARLENE AYOUB: And you’re very endurant with that way of eating. Just in my daily life, I know that my energy levels are very stable and my tummy is a lot happier. It’s not a difficult way to eat. You can eat any protein really. Any dark vegetable.
We didn’t find the switch difficult, although once in a while I’d love to have a big chocolate doughnut. But I think the benefits have outweighed any sense of deprivation that we felt with changing our diet.
BRAD BROWN: Yes, absolutely. And when you’re eating that way too, there’s some great things that you can eat. That old paradigm of eating, people think; fat – it’s bad for your heart and it’s cholesterol. There’s some amazing foodstuff that you can eat. Like you say, you’re not depriving yourself eating that way.
Put the fat back in your nutritional needs
ARLENE AYOUB: No. And butter is back on my list. Bacon is back on my list. Even high fat yoghurt. And we’ve learnt that you find amazing recipes.
People that come over to eat, our children or grandchildren, are sometimes eating things like chocolate cake that they didn’t know was made out of avocado.
BRAD BROWN: Absolutely, it is amazing. Arlene, I think it’s fantastic. Thank you so much for your time once again here on The Kona Edge. Much appreciated.
Best of luck in the upcoming races and we look forward to seeing you racing once again on the Big Island. It’s becoming a habit and we can’t wait to see you doing it until you’re 80/90 years old.
ARLENE AYOUB: Thanks a lot Brad. Thank you for all your time.
Brad Brown is a 40 something age grouper that dreams of one day qualifying for and racing on the big island (He may have to outlive everyone in his age group though).
Morbidly obese in 2009, Brad clocked in at 165kgs (363lbs) at his heaviest.
He's subsequently lost a third of his body weight on the way to a half Ironman pb of 5:06 and a full Ironman pb of 12:21.
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