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How Much Should a Triathlete Eat?
By Bob Seebohar

One of the most common questions I get from endurance athletes and triathletes specifically, is how much should they be eating to support their training and have enough energy to do well. As a result, I have written this article to provide you information about how much you (as an endurance athlete) should eat each day with one goal in mind: to improve athletic performance. I will address race nutrition and recover nutrition in future articles.

The predominant energy system for endurance athletes is aerobic with brief, intermittent involvement of aneaerobic energy systems. Actual energy expenditure depends on the intensity, duration and type of activity. Exercise intensities may range between 50-90% VO2 max for events lasting up to 17 hours, with the total energy expenditure ranging between a couple of hundred calories to tens of thousands of calories per day.

The stress of triathlon training can decrease appetite, resulting in reduced consumption of calories and carbohydrates. Inadequate energy and carbohydrate intake can lead to chronic fatigue, weight loss and impaired performance. \

Overall, the following are daily dietary recommendations for triathletes:

  • Carbohydrates: 1-10 grams per kilogram (kg) of body weight (more for longer days and vice-verca)
  • Protein: 1.2 1.6 grams per kg of body weight per day
  • Fat: 1 gram per kg of body weight per day
  • Fluid: a minimum of 10-12 cups of water per day


If you weigh 160 lbs (72.7 kg), you would need the following:

         Carbohydrates: 509 727 grams(2036 2098 calories)

         Protien: 87-116 grams (348 464 calories)

         Fat: 73 grams (657 calories)

Total calories: 3041-4029


  • 1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories
  • 1 gram of protein = 4 calories
  • 1 gram of fast = 9 calories
  • 1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds

Of course, these numbers are strictly guidelines as each athlete is different and requires different types of nutrition. Keep in mind the following before putting together your training diet:

  • in what training cycle are you?
  • how many hours per week are you training?
  • For what distance are you trainig?
  • Past medical and health history
  • Weight goals
  • Food allergies and intolerances
  • Food likes and dislikes

Above all, the goal is to match energy intake to energy expenditure during training so that we have enough energy day after day to put in the quality workouts.

Bob Seebohar, MS, RD, CSCS is the Performance Director at the Colorado Center for Altitude Training and Performance (ATP Center) in Evergreen, Colorado.  The ATP Center provides training, coaching, physiological testing and nutrition services for all ages, types and abilities of endurance athletes.

Bob Seebohar, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS has been a USA Triathlon certified coach since 1999 and is one of the first USA Triathlon Certified Level III Elite Coaches in the United States. He has worked with beginners to Olympians and currently specializes in working with advanced to elite athletes. Bob was on the Performance Coaching team for Susan Williams, 2004 Olympic Triathlon Bronze medalist, as he served as her strength coach and sport dietitian during her journey to becoming the first United States athlete to medal in Olympic Triathlon. 

He blends his extensive education with his experience as an athlete, exercise physiologist, sports dietitian and coach to 

Bob has a Bachelor's degree in Exercise and Sports Science with a concentration in Wellness Program Management, a Master's degree in Health and Exercise Science and a second Master's degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition. 

Bob is also the author of the book
Nutritional Periodization for the Endurance Athlete 

Bob can be contacted at 


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