Triathletes tend to eat healthily, but some of you may find that you can't shed those final couple
of kilos that keep you from your goal weight. They're typically the toughest to lose because you've already adopted healthy eating habits, and the process is made more difficult because your workouts demand adequate fuel - slashing more calories can sabotage your performance.
To shift those kilos without bonking, it's time to become detail-oriented, says sports dietician Hale Deniz-Venturi. "Small changes add up to big results," she says. For example, if you're lighter, your improved power-to-weight ratio will make you a faster climber - trimming 500g saves you about three watts, so shedding two kilos helps you maintain a faster pace than someone who's carrying even a little extra weight.
Just don't try to lose all the weight at once, says coach and nutrition consultant Kelli Montgomery. "If you're training hard, about 450g a week is all you can afford to lose. More than that and you're probably not getting enough calories to recover from workouts," which will cause your body to break down muscle fibre for fuel, rather than rebuilding it. Ideally you should slim down during the off-season - yes, that's right now - rather than before a race, says Deniz-Venturi. "Otherwise your glycogen levels dip and that compromises your performance."
Both experts recommend you have your Body Mass Index (BMI) measured by a dietician to help identify your ideal weight. This is one that's not too heavy, which will slow you down, nor too light, which saps strength. Then, try these tips.
Pick nutrient-dense, low-calorie veggies and whole fruits. Around 100g of grapes saves 195 calories over the same amount of raisins. Instead of juice at breakfast time, eat an orange - and save 40 calories or more. Snack on an apple rather than crisps: a study published in Nutrition found that people who snacked daily on apples and pears, and made no other dietary changes for 12 weeks, lost an average of 1.2kg. "Eating more fruit and vegetables boosts your fibre intake, which will keep you feeling fuller longer," says Montgomery.
Think before you drink
"Beverages contain surprising amounts of calories," says Montgomery. "Limit sugar and milk in coffee and tea, and dilute juice with water to make a lower calorie drink. And save the big glasses for water - drinks with more calories, such as smoothies, are best sipped from small cups - so you don't end up quaffing a meal's worth of calories in one go.
Eat all day
"Don't ever be without food," says Deniz-Venturi. Go more than four hours without eating and you'll be famished by your next meal. On busy days, when you're not as focused on proper fuelling, pack healthy snacks such as carrot sticks.
Write it down
Spend a week keeping a log of everything you consume as well as when and how much. "A food diary is a window into your habits," says Deniz-Venturi. Keeping track can help you identify how you can trim even further. "You may not be able to identify one major problem," she says. "Usually it's the little things that add up."