Nutrition for your young Triathlete

By Mithia Mukutmoni, PhD

Nutrition for your young triathlete

Proper nutrition and hydration is a must in a physical activity

The big day is fast-approaching!  What should your future Ironman-finisher eat (and drink!)  before, during, and after the race?

The “before”

  • Children have special fluid needs.  Make sure your child is properly hydrated a few days before the race.  A great way to do this…is to monitor urine color.  Urine should be pale yellow.
  • Dinner the night before should focus on carbohydrates, moderate protein, and be low-fat.  A great example would be pasta with vegetables and lean meat.  The meal should not be larger than usual.
  • An hour to 30 minutes before the race, have your child eat a light snack made up of easy-to-digest carbohydrates.  Half of a plain bagel or a small banana or a small tangerine are a few ideas.  Make sure this meal is low in fat, fiber, and protein as these nutrients take longer to digest and may slow down your athlete.

The “during”

  • For activities lasting less than an hour, a sport’s drink is not necessary for electrolyte replacement unless the temperatures are high.
  • Have your child drink about 5-6 ounces of plain, cool water between each “leg” of the event, even when he/she comes out of the pool.
  • Usually adrenaline will stave off hunger until after the event.  but if a snack appears necessary, focus again on easy-to-digest carbohydrates.  Half of a low-fiber granola bar would work well.

The “after”

  • First and foremost, the goal is to replenish fluids.  Plain, cool water works best unless your athlete appears to have sweated profusely.  A small cup of diluted sports drink might be warranted.
  • Within 30 minutes after the race, have your child eat a balanced snack which includes protein, carbohydrates, and fat.  Chocolate milk is a great choice and your child will love it!
  • Two hours after the race, make sure your child eats a regular meal which includes foods from 3 out of the 5 food categories found on the new MyPlate food guide. A good combination would be to include a vegetable, a protein, and a grain. Visit for more tips, recipes, and advice.
  • Last but definitely not least…..make sure to give your child a big hug for their awesome accomplishment!

Written by Mithia Mukutmoni, PhD