On this edition of The Kona Edge we chat to Tripp Hipple about his Ironman nutrition.  He’s very scientific and disciplined about nutrition regarding it as a daily discipline and he shares with us why he increases his carb intake and uses simple sugars to fuel his Ironman race.


BRAD BROWN:  Welcome onto yet another edition of The Kona Edge, awesome to have you with us and time to chat some nutrition. Often the 4th and most important discipline of triathlon, we’re joined by Tripp Hipple in Denver, Colorado. Tripp welcome, thanks for joining us.

TRIPP HIPPLE:  Yeah, it’s great, thank you.

BRAD BROWN:  Tripp, as far as nutrition goes, you’ve touched on a couple of things in our previous chats and I get the sense that you are really scientific about it, that you look at what you’re doing, sweat rates, that sort of thing, how many calories per hour, you take this really seriously. It’s important that you do don’t you?

TRIPP HIPPLE:  Yeah, nutrition is a huge part of my life, in general and it hasn’t always, it wasn’t always that way. I think in college or university, when I started running, I found out pretty quickly that certain foods don’t agree well with a stomach when it’s running. And it’s been a fun experiment to, through the years, figure out what works for me and I do have Celiac disease.

What works for you in your Ironman race?

So I don’t eat a lot of grains, unless they’re gluten free and that in itself has kind of opened my eyes to certain foods and products that I can use or cannot use. Especially during training, but during racing it’s all simple sugars. For me, that’s what works best and the thing I take most seriously is how to train my gut to handle, especially for an Ironman distance race, or a long training day, how to handle the volume of liquid or calories that need to be going into the gut and going into the working muscles, to be able to keep functioning at a high level. Yeah, I take it seriously, but I’m not overly strict about it because that’s another pitfall that can be hindering to performance.

BRAD BROWN:  Tripp, I find it quite interesting there that you said, it’s an experiment and you said the other bit twice, you said ‘for me’ and that’s the key to this. You need to figure out what works for you and it’s never going to work first time around, you have to try things and tweak things and maybe something works and maybe something doesn’t. It’s always a work in progress and you never quite get it 100% dialed in, do you?

TRIPP HIPPLE:  No, everyone is different, as we know and I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried the high fat, I’ve tried the high carb, the super low carb, super high fat. I’ve tried it all and I’ve just over time, which will probably continue on through my lifetime, figuring out certain days what I need more of. Certain days what I need less of and the timing is also key and I’m learning that all the time. On what to fuel before, during and after workouts, even on taper weeks and how to eat certain amounts or not as much, so yeah, it is an experiment, but it can be fun.

Food is a fun thing typically and it’s a fun thing to learn about and to figure out how it works in a body and how it fuels, especially the exercise we do as endurance athletes. We need to eat and we need to eat well, but there’s certain times where we need those simple sugars, especially in a race or a hard training session, to get us through.

BRAD BROWN:  You mention these experiments and you’re always experimenting, what’s something that you’ve discovered that’s been a game changer for you?

TRIPP HIPPLE:  I think taking in carbohydrates as I’m training and racing. I didn’t take that as serious when I first got into the sport. It’s tough because you have conflicting opinions between your countryman now, with the lower carb diets, compared to the old state where he figured carbohydrates were the best, a high carb diet was the best.

Experimenting with nutrition is fun in Ironman training

So my coach has his own nutritionist to help him with his athletes, but he’s also very keen on nutrition himself. He came from a bodybuilding background, which if anyone knows nutrition and calories and carbs/fats, all the macro nutrient breakdown, it’s bodybuilders. To me, I love that because I think that’s an interesting sport in itself and how disciplined those folks are with their nutrition and diet. I’m not saying how to eat is how an endurance athlete needs to eat, but they know exactly what they need, when they need it and how much.

To me, that’s been a game changer, taking in for me, more carbohydrates when I’m training and working out and even in that window of recovery, especially after a hard workout, it’s important to get the simple sugars in and protein, which most everyone knows, but for me it’s been so helpful in my recovery from day to day training.

BRAD BROWN:  Let’s talk about the recovery because recovery is vital. If you’re going to keep getting better, you need to recover. From a nutrition point of view, what’s your nutrition recovery strategy and game plan?

TRIPP HIPPLE:  There’s so many different plans, but for me I’ve found, even over the last few months, just through more experimenting and kind of going through different routines, I found that just getting in simple sugars, even if I don’t feel like I need that sort of simple sugar again. Especially if I’ve just had a gel at the end of a workout or not too long before I quit, I usually will have some sort of juice, grape or cherry juice and then I’ll have some sort of protein.

I’ve just been using yoghurt, Greek yoghurt for me has been very helpful. I think obviously the protein content is there with Greek yoghurt. But also on top of that you have the probiotic content which for the gut and the stomach, is quite helpful, especially from what we as endurance athletes put it through on a day to day basis. Yeah, it’s been helpful, but I also take a multivitamin from First Endurance, the Multi V and then I’m a proud supporter of fish oil to get those omega 3’s in for the anti-inflammatory health.

BRAD BROWN:  I think that’s super helpful. Tripp, thank you so much, much appreciated, that was incredible. Thank you for your time here on The Kona Edge and we look forward to following your progress and seeing how you go in the seasons and races ahead.

TRIPP HIPPLE:  Thank you so much, it’s been great to be on.