By Jim Lubisnki, Professional Triathlete & Coach
Where do I start regarding nutrition? There is so much to it and everyone has a different opinion on what works. Let me start by saying that I am not an expert when it comes to nutrition. I know what works for me. I have tried almost everything there is to try regarding daily nutrition, race day nutrition, supplements, vitamins, minerals, fads, etc. I have found several things that work well and several things that are gimmicks. For this article I will only focus on what works for me (O.K. I may talk a little trash about others’ ideas). Take it or leave it.
Regarding daily nutrition, I am from Chicago. I love meat, cheese, grease, and pretty much every other unhealthy product under the sun. I love to eat. Sometimes I think that the only reason I do triathlon is so that I can eat 24/7. This past January I made a drastic change to my diet. I decided to go Vegan. I watched the documentary “Forks Over Knives” and I heard UltraMan and Ultra Vegan Rich Roll speak. I was convinced that a Vegan lifestyle would improve my energy and performance. I made the switch overnight. Instantly I cut meat, chicken, eggs, and dairy out of my diet. I am still eating fish so I guess I am not technically a Vegan (sorry Rich Roll). I have followed this diet for 7 months and I can now tell you that I feel better than ever. I have more energy, I am recovering quicker from hard workouts/races, I am experimenting with new foods and flavors, and I am learning my way around the kitchen because of the new recipes I have been implementing. I eat a lot of nuts, fruits and vegetables, grains, and beans. Many ask, “How do you get enough protein?” This is a common misconception. All of the above foods have all of the protein you need. I feel that since my body does not have to use so much energy to break down meats and dairy I have more energy to put towards training, racing, and recovering. I am a huge advocate of this lifestyle. Oh, and my stomach is much less bloated. I know Cortney (my girlfriend) appreciates that.
In terms of supplements I have tried everything under the sun. There have been times when I have taken 15 different pills at a time and there have been times when I have not taken any supplements. What I find is that there are certain supplements you need as an endurance sport athlete and others that just make you feel better mentally because you are taking them (placebos if you will). We beat our bodies down on a daily basis. Because of this beating our systems need an extra “push” to stay healthy and strong. This is why a staple in my supplement basket will always be SportMulti. SportMulti is a daily vitamin geared towards the needs of endurance sport athletes. Between racing, training, travel, and life our immune systems are tested daily. The SportMulti provides that extra boost our immune system needs to stay strong and keep us free of sickness. Another supplement I have sworn by for some time is Optygen HP. Optygen HP is a supplement that has been proven to increase your ability to hold your threshold effort for longer periods of time. Long story short, it buffers the lactic acid you build up at threshold effort. The third supplement I currently take is Salmon Oil. Salmon Oil contains all of the Omegas you need (3-6-9) and also has been show to increase your ability to hold your threshold for a longer period of time.
Several supplements I use on and off are Athlete Octane, CoQ10, Vitamin C, and B Vitamins.
Regarding racing/training nutrition, I really enjoy the Powerbar product line. I do not say this because I am sponsored by them, but because Powerbar products work for me. I look at racing/training nutrition a lot like I do when looking to rent an apartment (Stay with me here). When renting an apartment you have tons of options and you could look forever. Eventually you must make a decision on one or you could be looking for the rest of your life. The same goes for your racing/training nutrition. Find one that you like and make it work. Do not hunt forever because you will never get accustomed to anything and this leads to upset stomach, poor performance, and mental stress. Powerbar has everything I need in their product line. Personally I use these Powerbar products: Ironman Perform for performance and Ironman Restore for recovery. I use the entire line of Powerbar Gels depending on which flavor I am in the mood for and if I want caffeine or not, and I use the Powerbar Bars (not Vegan but I allow myself to cheat) as a pre race snack and midnight snack.
Like I said, this is what I do. There are so many opinions out there, but ultimately the true factor is, “How do you feel?” I am not a nutritionist but I have tried enough products to know what works for me. I think you need balance. Don’t deprive yourself as long as you can balance indulgences with healthy decisions. Have fun in life, but treat your body as the temple it is. RACE HARD!
Jim Lubinski has always led an athletic lifestyle, playing a wide range of sports, including: ice hockey, soccer, baseball, basketball, and running track. He grew up in Niles, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. Jim attended Fairfield University on a hockey scholarship and graduated with a Political Science major and Business Management and Communications minor. Currently, Jim is a professional triathlete dedicated to racing, winning and living life to the fullest. View his website for information on his personalized coaching programs: www.jimlubinksi.com.