Commit to becoming a student of your Ironman nutrition
Commit to becoming a student of your Ironman nutrition

Ironman Nutrition – The psychological obstacle that forms your Ironman nutrition

Commit to becoming a student of your Ironman nutrition

We chat to Rodolphe von Berg on this edition of The Kona Edge about his Ironman nutrition plan. He reveals his success to his Ironman nutrition strategy over the last 40 years.

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Go longer with SFuels.

Train your body to use fat for fuel.  SFules helps you go longer & avoid the dreaded spike or bonk

They contain no sugars, honey, syrups, sugar alcohols, wheat, oats or cheap protein, which helps avoid gut and GI distress.

If you’re in the United States and you’d like to try SFuels out, simply click on button below and they’ll send you a FREE box.

SFuels was recently launched in the ultra running space and the response has been phenomenal! See for yourself what the buzz is all about about.

Don’t delay, the free sample boxes of SFuels are limited.

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Transcription:

BRAD BROWN: Rodolphe, as far as nutrition goes, you mentioned that you’re very particular about your nutrition and what you eat. We’ve spoken about the 3 sports but there’s a 4th discipline to triathlon and it is nutrition.

Failing to arrange healthy nutrition

RODOLPHE VON BERG:  Yes. And I think it’s the one that maybe most triathletes have a hard time to master. It’s strange you know, they do all this hard training, very hard workouts and in a certain way you would think the easiest thing to do is to control your nutrition. To arrange healthy nutrition, there they fail.

So many times I hear I’m training 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 hours a week even some pros are telling you that. I can eat whatever I want when I come back. And I say no, no you cannot eat anything you want. You really have to consider that triathlon. Okay it’s 3 sports, but then you have the 4th one which is nutrition. Of course I’m not even talking about the stretching and the strength. Let’s put that aside.

But nutrition is really the 4th one. It’s really an important one. It’s not because you bike 6 hours that you can come back home and eat garbage calories. All the worst fast food and fast sugars and saturated fats that you want that tastes good. Yes, it tastes good because you did 6 hours on the bike. No. You’re basically losing all the benefits of your 6 hours of biking by eating so poorly after.

Ironman Nutrition – an easy thing to master

I’ve noticed time and again it’s really hard for people to master nutrition. Sometimes I wonder why, is he training so hard that maybe sometimes they start to hate the training? They feel they have to go do the thing they really like which is to eat whatever there is? Usually the most unhealthy food for most people. I don’t really understand that psychological obstacle that forms nutrition.

When I was in San Diego in 1986, I started learning a lot about nutrition and I started to discard many things. Here in the home we don’t eat meat any more. We haven’t eaten meat for 20 years. We don’t eat red meat, veal, pork and all that. We only eat poultry. We only eat chicken or grilled fish and turkey for the protein of the meat.

When I’m talking about nutrition I feel that everybody knows. It’s out there in the information world. Everybody knows what we have to do so I feel dumb in a certain way. I feel so redundant when I’m saying these things but it’s so easy to eat well. In the morning for breakfast we have oatmeal with some protein powder that I buy in the sports stores here, with cranberries, shea seeds, and flax seeds. My wife crushes some almonds in it and it’s great. It’s a fantastic breakfast. It’s the healthiest breakfast you can have. We have that with skim milk and that’s it. We don’t need croissants, or bread with whatever you want to put on it. It’s just a typical staple breakfast that we have.

Use natural  resources to boost your Ironman nutrition

After that, you know we live in the country of virgin olive oil. Here on our property, we have 400 olive oils. So we have our own olive oil and we’re lucky to have that. We cook all our salads and vegetables with olive oil. It’s the main oil that we use. But everybody knows that for carbohydrates you just need to eat all the fruits and vegetables that you want and that’s it. And for the fat the olive oil is perfect because it has very little saturated fat.

You pretty much have around you what you are supposed to eat. In France we have frumous bleu.  I don’t know if you know frumous bleu, I don’t know if it exists there. I know in the states it doesn’t exist. It looks like yoghurt but it’s not a yoghurt. We eat either 0% fat nor skin. It’s delicious and you put fruit in it and it’s extremely healthy. You also have some protein there from dairy products and we have no problem with dairy products. We are not part of the gluten free world and all that. Even though some people are allergic to gluten but it’s maybe less than 0.1% of the population.

BRAD BROWN: Rodolphe from a racing perspective, you mentioned in our first chat about racing Boston without eating or drinking anything. Things have changed. How do you approach a race now from a nutrition point of view? Do you use gels; is it all real food, what’s the deal when you race?

Taking the same nutrition for 30 years

RODOLPHE VON BERG:  Very simple. I still race and I still take the fluids I was taking 30 years ago when I started. I learned from my mistakes after the first year. And I’m still of that old school. I consider whether it’s half Ironman or an Ironman race, you do not want to eat anything solid.

In my view and also in the literature I’ve read, it’s basically scientifically proven that if you eat solids it will take away some of the blood from your muscles that you absolutely need while you’re biking and running. You want all the blood you have in your muscles. You don’t want them to go to the liver and start to digest the solid food that you’re taking.

There are so many athletes that keep on eating solid food during their bike and then running. I only drink, I only take liquids but I take lots of them. If you want to know why, I counted them. I drink between 20 and 24 bottles during the bike. At every single station, except the first two, I’ll take one product of the race. Whatever brand it is. I’m very adaptable, I have no allergies and I accept all brands in the world. I always try the brand of the race just before the race but I always take that.

Taking on course nutrition works for me

I don’t have my own nutrition bag at the half point or whatever. I feel they are completely useless. If you take a bottle at every single aid station and you finish it, you have all the calories that you want; you have all the electrolytes you want. You even, as far as I’m concerned, you even have all the sodium’s you need. So I don’t take sodium tablets. In fact, salt is banned in our nutrition for the whole year because I feel and also of course that’s based on literature, the less salt you eat, the more salt your body keeps on producing. So the less chances you have of running out of salt in your body. It’s impossible to do that if you’re lacking something.

In the run I drink only coke and you know why I drink only coke? Because one day in the 80’s, I heard  an interview of Mark Allen saying “Oh Mr. Allen what do you drink during the marathon?” “Oh, I drink coke”. I heard that. I didn’t know anything about anything so I said if Mark Allen drinks coke I think it should be ok for me. And since then I’ve been drinking coke. And it’s perfect.

Keeping it simple is all it takes

I’ve never bonked in a race in the last 30 years. I never had any problems. So I think the nutrition is not that hard a concept to master in racing. Everything in fact is out there. Remember something, in the 80’s we were doing Ironman in conditions much worse than now. We did not have all these products. Nothing existed. There was only coke. Yes, a miserable banana here and there. And there was Gatorade and we were doing it and we were not bonking. Providing you taking your fluid as you go along.

Now you have all these brands and people having problems with nutrition. Maybe that’s the problem, that there are too many brands and they try too many products. They take too many things and then they have stomach problems during the race. Maybe I’m just unique and maybe I’m just lucky. I’ve never had any of these problems. I only take the race brand on race day then I take the coke on the run and that’s it. And no solids. I don’t even take gels.

Carry your gel as an emergency back up

Even though now I do. My son Rudy takes gels. He told me Dad, take at least 2 or 3 gels in your back pocket. So now yes, I have 2 or 3 gels in my back pocket. I even swim with them. You know they are in the wet suit. Usually I finish the race and I’ve completely forgotten about them. Oh I still have my gels. Because somehow I felt I didn’t need them.

It’s interesting but one time I needed them it was at Ironman Cannes 2 months ago. Why? Because they completely changed the course before the race and they eliminated all the aid stations, except one. So there was 1 aid station only at 5k and that was not enough because the bike race was over 90km. More than 2500 altitude meters which I did like a bike race, so I was very depleted.

Dealing with nutrition when there’s no aid station

And I had my 2 gels in my back pocket thanks to my son and I used them during that race. But why? Just because the organisation did not provide aid stations. But if the organisation does their job and they have the aid station where it’s supposed to be, everything is there. In fact, the human being does not need anything else. And I’m repeating that the bike bottles that race has and the coke on the run. You really don’t need anything else. Believe me.

BRAD BROWN: Brilliant. Rodolphe thank you so much for your time. Much appreciated. I loved chatting to you. I could chat to you for days. I’m sure you’ve got thousands of stories to tell but it’s been amazing. Thank you so much for your time on The Kona Edge.

RODOLPHE VON BERG:  I hope I see you in South Africa in 2018.

BRAD BROWN: 70.3 World Championships. We will be there.

RODOLPHE VON BERG:  Okay I’ll be there. Cross fingers.

BRAD BROWN: Fantastic, Rodolphe that is awesome. Thank you so much for your time. Really appreciate it.

RODOLPHE VON BERG:  Bye bye.

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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