Elite Fuelling – Sam Betten

The Aussie 70.3 specialist on what nutrition he uses to train and race hard

I’ve always had the theory that it’s a good idea to be very flexible with what I eat. I’ve seen many pro athletes who have very strict diets go overseas to races and fall apart mentally and physically due to not being able to find what they usually eat at home.

Personally, I know I need to be fuelling my body during training sessions and not neglecting my hydration and nutrition. Being that I have days where I’m out riding for 7hrs or more and other days where I run near enough to full marathon distance, if I don’t stay on top of what I eat and drink it can be a very long day out on the road. 

My coach Stephen Moss always uses the analogy of a Formula 1 racing car. His famous quote is that “you can’t fuel a Formula 1 car with regular unleaded pump fuel.” This goes for elite athletes and their own finely tuned engines in so much as you can’t expect to just eat a regular diet and then be able to go out and perform at the top level. 

My personal take on fuelling my body is to get back to simple foods and away from highly processed foods as much as you can. I love my berry and banana smoothies post-training as they really embody this ideal. And they taste good too, which shouldn’t be overlooked. If I make homemade pizzas I always make the base from scratch.

I try to eat vegetarian at least one day a week as well as fish once a week to mix things up. I have given up on cola-based drinks (except for a sip during long races) as I feel that these are quite possibly the worst thing you can put in your body. 

When I consume my energy gels, either in training or on race day, I make sure to wash them down with water, because if I drink them with sports drink I have found that it can lead to stomach cramps from an overdose of carbohydrates.

When it comes to racing I like to start the day with a mixture of solid food and energy bars, sports drinks and a few salt tablets. The solid food is always natural and unprocessed, which I find helps me to digest it pre-race. 

I believe in having a diet specific to my upcoming training plans as well. What this means is that if I have a recovery day ahead I will eat more salad and a protein-based dinner. If I have a big training day the following day I will tend to eat a lot more carbohydrates to ensure I’m adequately fuelled.

Stayed tuned for Sam’s race day nutrition plan. 220