Ironman Run Injury – Hacks to keep you injury free

Switching between fats and carbs – Lesley West’s Ironman nutrition strategy

Rob Cummins Ironman Bike

We catch up with Lesley West on this episode of The Kona Edge and find out what her Ironman nutrition strategy is.

(Read the transcription of our chat here)

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Podcast Transcription:

BRAD BROWN:  Welcome back onto yet another edition of The Kona Edge, I’m Brad Brown and we’re going to chat some nutrition today with returning guest Lesley West. Lesley, welcome back onto The Kona Edge.

LESLEY WEST:  Thanks Brad.

BRAD BROWN:  Lesley, let’s talk about nutrition. We haven’t spoken about it at all, how big a roll does it play for you in successfully racing and competing at a high level?

LESLEY WEST:  Yeah, it’s really important and it contributes to racing and competing but not just on race day, but also outside of race day.

BRAD BROWN:  Talk to me a little bit about your day-to-day nutrition. Is there anything specific, do you try and keep it as simple as possible? How do you approach things?

LESLEY WEST:  Yeah, I would say fairly simple. I’ve dealt with my own dietary issues for a number of years, before I was involved in triathlon, with intolerances and a whole bunch of other stuff. Around that, yes, it’s working around that, but I follow fairly low carb, high fat diet, not because it’s the latest fad but it’s what I found works, just works best for me, regardless of whether I’m training or racing or whatever. Just normal day-to-day life, that’s what I operate well on. Yeah, it tends to be just fairly simple, we make pretty much everything from scratch apart from dark chocolate that I may keep in my desk drawer and eat some of every single day.

Yeah, pretty much everything we make from scratch, fresh.

BRAD BROWN:  As far as racing, is it the same sort of approach? Have you figure out exactly what works for you and you keep it as simple as possible?

LESLEY WEST:  Yeah, I don’t know it exactly but I’ve found out what doesn’t work for me, so the traditional high carb, what is it, 60g of carbs an hour doesn’t work for me. It works great for some people, for me it doesn’t work, end up with gut issues. I worked with a nutritionist for the past 14 months or so, so we brought in a strategy and I used this in Cairns and in Kona, of switching between using fat and then carbs for fuel and I just found it means that I’m not overloading the gut and have a much better ability to absorb the fuel.

BRAD BROWN:  Tell me a little bit more about that. What is it that you’re doing?

LESLEY WEST:  In fact I recently just started using a new brand which works out quite well for me which is called SFuels and so it essentially uses MCT oils with some electrolytes and it’s all mixed up in there, a wonderful concoction. I split between using that on the bike about every 30 minutes or so, I’ll drink some of that then in the alternating 30 minutes is when I use some gels. That’s when I bring in some carbs. I’m pretty much, from a carbohydrate point of view, having roughly half of what is generally advised and instead I’m still getting the calories in, but just in that different form.

BRAD BROWN:  Are you one of those people who does it by the clock, that it’s every half a hour regardless of what’s happening?


BRAD BROWN:  Do you have an alarm set and it goes off and you know you have to do it?

LESLEY WEST:  I don’t have an alarm set, but I actually find it quite distracting, but in a good way because it gives me something to focus on, oh, in another 15 minutes then go have something else, then another 15 minutes I’ll have something else. I do like routine, I’m a creature of habit, I love routine. On hilly races, it doesn’t always work so well because when you’re halfway up a hill and you go, oh, it’s time to have something, it doesn’t always work with that. I have learned to adjust a little bit and we’re still playing around with it in terms of what is the real strategy, do we overload towards the start of the bike, so then there’s less loading your gut towards the end. I don’t know that anybody ever gets it 100% spot on, but yeah, we’ll continue to adjust and play around with that I think.

BRAD BROWN:  I was going to ask, how do you handle it on the run? Is it a case of you do what you can on the bike and then whatever you can take on the run you take or is there a strategy like that on the run as well?

LESLEY WEST:  I start out with just pure glucose, so just glucose powder; I’ll sometimes add a bit of lemon with some water in little flasks. That’s been my strategy up until now, but I always have the odd spare gel on me. That and some Cola, especially, it depends if it’s Ironman or a half and it also just depends on how my race is going. Yeah, usually with the half I’ll get to the point maybe about 14-15km and that’s the point at which I just go, anything that just gets you to the end. That’s bringing in, drinking Coke at every aid station and pretty much the same for a full.

BRAD BROWN:  Lesley, it’s been great catching up, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I look forward to following your progress, obviously not to Kona, as you said, it bankrupts people but I’m sure it’ll happen again. We look forward to following your progress.

LESLEY WEST:  Great, thanks very much for having me on Brad.

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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