I differ between 2 types of nutrition: race nutrition and regular nutrition.
As for regular nutrition, meaning what you eat throughout the day, I eat normal stuff like everybody else and apply strict discipline with that. fresh fruit, lots of vegetables, some white meat occasionally, cut out processed foods as much as possible.
alcohol is pretty much a no no. That was hard for me to cut on that, since I like beer. Alcohol impairs recovery. But after a race, I ll have a beer or two.
as for race nutrition, just like with the regular nutrition, you have to develop a pattern that works and stick to it.
since starting off racing, I have established such a pattern and from a nutritional point of view, it has never let me down.
nutrition during races does not have as big an impact as people make it out to be. 9 out of 10 cases when people slow down, it is not because of nutrition, but because the training people have done is not sufficient. There is no magic gel that you can pop to get you back on track, if you can do one thing is to intensify your training to prevent it from happening.
in short course racing, nutrition does not play a role unless there are extreme conditions i.e super duper heat or humidity. it is just there to top up your levels a bit.
in long course racing, nutrition plays a bigger role and you have to pay great attention to it. you have to be able eat and digest food during a race. and that is what you have to do in training: ride with the food, eat the food on the ride or run, practice that as often as you can.
stick with a nutrition routine that you trained and use exactly the same products during a race. no switching a day before the race what you bought at the expo.
my race nutrition is very simple: I use GU ( I do not endorse the product ) and GU chomps because they are easily available in the UAE. Personally, I like Powerbar better because they have a deeper product variety, but they are not available here in the UAE.
during a race, per hour I burn ca. 600 700 kcal. but I can only take in max 300kcal. so per hour of racing, I roughly calculate with 3 – 4 GUs. So in a 70.3 race, I am ca. 4hours out, so I need ca. 12 GUs in total. in the beginning and towards the end on the bike I eat some GU chomps not because they taste so good, but to have the sensation of some solid in my mouth.
Since you can never take in as much as you burn in a race, you have to preload your body with the necessary nutrients, i.e carbohydrates, potassium, magnesium etc etc.
I differ between 2 types of races: races less than 2 hours, sprint and Olympic and around 4 hours and more for 70.3 and ironman racing. according to my racing, that is how plan the preloading.
for races lesser than 2 hours my preloading is purely liquid. no solid food except for breakfast of course.
for races more than that, I have a solid/liquid preloading. solid consisting out of small recurring portions of pasta with tuna tomato sauce. no spices except for plenty of salt. I eat several small portions and the solid preloading phase is finished by ca. 1400 the day before the race. the rest of the day I can digest that and replenish on water and GUs as well. I only have a small and light dinner the night before the race, very early no later than 1800.
eating full big ass portions the night before the race at a pasta party, I find that a bad idea.
I never take salt pills. putting plenty of salt in your food during race week is plenty sufficient.
race morning breakfast is like the above always the same. white toast, toasted, with butter, and honey or nutella. for a sprint race, I eat 2. for an Olympic distance 3 to 4. for 70.3 4-5 and for Ironman 7-8. it is easily digestible, uncomplicated food that has pleeeeeenty of calories. I have never eaten dairy products, like oats and shit, or granola, juice, wheat bread. these foods I always found too complicated. I wash my breakfast down with black coffee or English builders tea or some other strong shit.
this is my routine, works for me since 4.5 years, when I started racing.