Avoiding processed food on the way to Ironman Nutrition success
Avoiding processed food on the way to Ironman Nutrition success

Avoiding processed food on the way to Ironman Nutrition success

Avoiding processed food on the way to Ironman Nutrition success

We go all in on Ironman nutrition with Richard Thompson. Richard shares his triathlon nutrition strategy by avoiding processed foods and using whole food sources wherever possible.

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BRAD BROWN: Welcome onto yet another edition of The Kona Edge, and time to talk my favourite discipline, eating. Not necessarily the right way all the time, but I’m sure our next guest is a lot better than I am. We head back to Australia now to catch up with Richard Thompson.

Richard, welcome back onto The Kona Edge. Thanks for joining us today.

RICHARD THOMPSON: Thank you Brad. Lovely to be here.

BRAD BROWN: Richard, a lot of triathletes swear that the only reasons they do this sport is that they can eat what they want. It’s not necessarily the right way to go about it, but it is one of the up-sides of taking part in triathlon.

Watch your weight the last week before race day

RICHARD THOMPSON: Yes, absolutely. The calorie intake is no issue. Especially when you’re getting up to the big blocks and you try to explain it to people. And the biggest issue is, is he eating enough? A lot of athletes drop a lot of weight in those last 6-day weeks, and sometimes to their detriment. Some people have an issue with it, but you want to make sure you don’t lose too much weight in that last week.

BRAD BROWN: Let’s talk about your approach from a nutrition perspective. What’s your philosophy? How do you approach things generally?

Avoid processed foods in your Ironman nutrition

RICHARD THOMPSON: I’m fortunate to be very close with a nutritionist in Australia called The Natural Athlete. He’s helped me on the way and goes on the premise of just [inaudible] which is as simple as it comes really. But trying to avoid anything that’s processed. I’m a vegetarian, but it’s not necessarily something to note.

It’s more whatever you’re eating, whether it be your dairy, meat, anything. Carbohydrates, fat, whatever it is. If it’s primarily whole food that hasn’t been processed, then it’s good. Don’t get me wrong, between my wife and I, she does a lot of running and if there’s any [inaudible] it only lasts about 3-minutes before it’s finished. But on a basic level you’re just trying to eat good food, nothing processed.

BRAD BROWN: And you say it’s simple. It’s not rocket science, is it? It’s trying to keep things as basic as possible. Like you say, no processed rubbish. What your body is designed to consume, you should be consuming.

Your body can’t perform well with the wrong Ironman nutrition

RICHARD THOMPSON: Back in the day, hundreds and hundreds of years ago, there was no processed food. What we’re trying to do is ask your body to do extraordinary things every day and then a lot of athletes just pile on crap. Pile on a lot of chemicals and artificial colourants and flavourings and preservatives. And then turn up the next day and demand your body to perform well.

The whole analogy of pouring petrol in a Ferrari, you wouldn’t do that. So, why would you do that to your own body? It is simple. Generally, if it’s got a nutrition label on the back it’s got some sort of process involved. You don’t find labels on fresh fruit and vegetables, or meat and dairy. So, try and stay clear as much as you can.

BRAD BROWN: From a race nutrition strategy, what’s your gain plan when it comes to that?

RICHARD THOMPSON: Obviously, everyone is very different. I do suggest to everyone, and I think it’s important, because you can have a nutrition plan going into a race but you’re assuming a lot of things. You’re assuming the weather, the humidity, hydration levels. Your intensity during the race. You might be working harder than you needed to.

Expose your body to Ironman nutrition during training

I think it is important that you expose your body in training to all circumstances that you see in a race. There’s no sense in being fuelled to the nines in training and having perfect sessions when you have no issues with getting the calories in. Then you come to the race day and the body is screaming. You don’t really know what it’s doing and then it all goes pear shaped because you’re being too strict on your plan.

So, I think the biggest take away that I could give is to put yourself in the whole, in training. Put yourself in a position where you’re a little bit calorie deficient and see how does your body feel. Put yourself in a little bit of dehydration, which happens ordinarily anyway.

You need to be proactive and I guess very sensitive to what your body was trying to tell you during the race. There aren’t too many times that a perfect nutrition plan can get played out.

BRAD BROWN: What’s the biggest Ironman nutrition mistake you’ve made in your triathlon career and what have you learnt from it?

Stay focused on your Ironman nutrition performance

RICHARD THOMPSON: I would say, it was close to Hawaii 2016. I expected to be in the top 10 age group overall by about 130km because I didn’t expect the swim to be that good. Myself and 3 other guys were in the lead at about 50k. I was too interested in what was happening in the race, rather than focusing on my own game plan.

So, my biggest mistake would be to lose sight of your own performance. What you’re doing yourself, comparing to others or to times and places. Your training’s been done.

Get the most out of your Ironman nutrition

All that’s going to affect your race is pacing, nutrition and your ability to have the mental strength to enjoy the tough times, on the day. If you can absolutely nail your nutrition, then that’s a long way to getting the most out of yourself on race day.

BRAD BROWN: Absolutely. Richard, thank you so much for your time.

If people want to get hold of you the website to get to, is tzeromultisport.com.au if they want to reach out to you and get some online coaching help as well. I’m sure you’re more than willing to help.

Go check it out Richard Thompson on that website. It’s tzeromultisport.com.au. I’ll put the link to that in the show notes of this episode as well. Richard, much appreciated.

Really enjoyed our chat and we look forward to following your progress. Not Kona 2017 but beyond that. Who knows, I’m sure there will be another come back onto the Big Island.

RICHARD THOMPSON: I wouldn’t say never back, but it’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you and I wish you all the best.

About Us

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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