The aim of this study was to investigate the prerace and during-race carbohydrate intakes of elite-level triathletes contesting draft-legal Olympic-distance triathlon (ODT) events. Self-reported prerace and during-race nutrition data were collected at 3 separate ODT events from 51 elite senior and under-23 triathletes. One hundred twenty-nine observations of food and fluid intake representing actual prerace (n = 62) and during-race (n = 67) nutrition practices from 36 male and 15 female triathletes were used in the final analysis of this study. Female triathletes consumed significantly more carbohydrate on the morning before race start when corrected for body mass and race start time than their male counterparts (p < .05). Male and female triathletes consumed 26% more energy (kJ/kg) and 24% more carbohydrate (g/kg) when commencing a race after midday (1:00–1:30 p.m.) than for a late morning (11:00–11:15 a.m.) race start. During the race, triathletes consumed less than 60 g of carbohydrate on 66% of occasions, with average total race intakes of 48 ± 25 and 49 ± 25 g carbohydrate for men and women, respectively. Given average race times of 1:57:07 hr and 2:08:12 hr, hourly carbohydrate intakes were ~25 g and ~23 g for men and women, respectively. Although most elite ODT triathletes consume sufficient carbohydrate to meet recommended prerace carbohydrate intake guidelines, during-race carbohydrate intakes varied considerably, with many failing to meet recommended levels.
Cox and Burke are with Sports Nutrition, Australian Institute of Sport, Belconnen, ACT, Australia. Snow is with the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, VIC, Australia.