Basic Nutrition Plan for Half Ironman Fueling

Mmmm…gels…

Here is a sample nutrition plan for fueling during a half ironman race with specific calorie, carbohydrate, hydration, and electrolyte guidelines:

Before the race:

  • Eat a carbohydrate-rich meal the night before the race, including at least 500-700 calories and 70-100 grams of carbohydrates.
  • Have a small, easily digestible breakfast (such as oatmeal with fruit and nuts or a banana with peanut butter) about an hour before the start of the race, including about 200-300 calories and 30-60 grams of carbohydrates.

Right before the swim:

  • Consider taking an energy gel or a chew to help maintain your energy levels. Each serving should provide about 100 calories and 20-30 grams of carbohydrates.
  • Drink fluids as needed to stay hydrated.

During the bike:

  • Have a bottle of sports drink or water available to help you stay hydrated and fueled. Aim to drink 16-32 ounces (0.5-1 liter) of fluid per hour, more if it’s hot and humid.
  • Consider using energy gels, chews, or bars every 30-60 minutes to help maintain your energy levels. Each serving should provide about 100 calories and 20-30 grams of carbohydrates.
  • Drink enough fluids to avoid dehydration. Aim to consume about 60-90 grams of carbohydrates per hour during the bike portion of the race. More if you are bigger or if you know you can handle it.
  • Consume electrolytes (mainly sodium) as needed to help replace those lost through sweat. This could include a sports drink or electrolyte tablets.

During the run:

  • Use energy gels, chews, or other fueling options as needed to help maintain your energy levels. Each serving should provide about 100 calories and 20-30 grams of carbohydrates.
  • Drink fluids at aid stations to help stay hydrated. Aim to drink 8-16 ounces (0.25-0.5 liters) of fluid per hour.
  • Consider using a sports drink or other electrolyte replacement product to help replace lost electrolytes. Aim to consume about 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour during the run portion of the race.

After the race:

  • Make sure to refuel with a combination of carbohydrates and protein to help with recovery. This could include a recovery drink, a protein-rich snack (such as a protein bar or a handful of nuts), or a meal with protein and carbohydrates (such as chicken and rice or a turkey and avocado sandwich). Aim for a snack or meal with about 200-300 calories and 20-30 grams of protein within the first hour after finishing the race.
  • Continue to hydrate and replace electrolytes as needed in the hours and days following the race.

Note: It is important to remember that everyone’s nutritional needs are different and that it is important to experiment with different fueling strategies during training to find what works best for you. It is also important to pay attention to your body’s thirst signals and to drink enough fluids to stay adequately hydrated. During the race, it is generally recommended to consume about 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour. However, it is important to test out different fueling strategies during training to determine what works best for you.


Use the free IronmanHacks Nutrition Calculator to dial in your servings: Triathlon nutrition calculator | IronmanHacks


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