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World-Champion Tim O’Donnell’s Triathlon Nutrition Plan

World-Champion Tim O’Donnell’s Triathlon Nutrition Plan
Timothy O’Donnell is one of the world’s most successful and experienced American long-course triathletes. After joining Team UCAN in 2019, Tim went on to finish 2nd at the IRONMAN World Championships in Kona, HI and recorded the fastest American finish ever (7:59:40) at the legendary race. As a World Champion Triathlete, T.O. incorporates UCAN into more facets of his life than anyone we've met. Here are some of Tim’s favorite ways to create a triathlon nutrition plan featuring UCAN (and why).

UCAN IN Training and Daily Life

The Tim BarChocolate Almond Butter UCAN Bar + Nut Butter Pre-Load. Before longer rides and bricks, Tim eats 2 Chocolate UCAN Bars topped with dollops of either peanut butter or almond butter. He loves the taste, it’s quick and easy, and it gets him some steady energy before he gets out the door for his workout!

Tim’s Steady EddyLemon or Tropical Orange UCAN Energy powder mixed in water. On Tim’s steady aerobic sessions including the first half of the famous Trail Ridge Road climb, he takes in 1 serving of UCAN every 2-3 hours. Tim is extremely efficient, not just bio-mechanically, but metabolically, so a little bit of UCAN goes a really long way. Most users will find that 1 serving lasts 90min to 2 hours.

Supercharged LIVSTEADY – On higher intensity days, including the second half of the Trail Ridge Road climb, Tim will supercharge his LIVSTEADY drink by adding some high glycemic carbohydrates. While it’s not necessary or optimal for most of his training, Tim has found it to be helpful during those high-intensity sessions where his energy expenditure is through the roof. Tim’s concoction: 2 servings of Unflavored UCAN Energy + 500 calories worth of maltodextrin and fructose-based carbohydrates.

The Vanilla JumpstartUCAN Protein + Energy mixed in unsweetened vanilla almond milk. After every big workout, this is the first drink that goes into Tim’s body. It’s delicious and has all the protein and carbs that Tim needs to jumpstart the recovery process.

The Bridge
Lemon or Tropical Orange UCAN Energy powder mixed in water. Sometimes Tim follows up a session with another session shortly thereafter, such as on Terrible Tuesdays, and he needs fuel to optimally execute his second workout. Terrible Tuesdays are a hard progression run followed by a hard swim about 75 minutes later, followed by a strength session and then a hard bike ride later that afternoon. In the past, Tim would struggle to perform during the hard swim, but now he takes 1-2 servings of Lemon or Orange UCAN Performance Energy after the run on his way to the pool and he’s found he can finish that swim stronger than ever before.

Tim’s FrUCAN Smoothies
– Fruit and Unflavored UCAN Energy. Whatever you’ve got in the kitchen, mix it up in a blender for tasty long-lasting energy!

The Hydrate Backload – After a hard day’s training, especially in the warm, dry summers of Boulder, CO, Tim is dehydrated and needs to replenish. He sips on UCAN Hydrate electrolytes throughout the evening to replenish what he’s lost so he can fully recover and be ready for the next day’s training. All in all, Tim has found UCAN to be pivotal in his ability to recover and be consistent in his training. The steady energy allows him to finish workouts stronger, and to follow them up with solid 2nd and 3rd sessions. Tim has had some of his best training blocks ever this year because of the consistency that UCAN brings his triathlon nutrition - for both training and races.

UCAN on Race Day

Tim O’Donnell also uses UCAN prior to his races as a “pre-load” and during them. Check out Tim’s below nutrition strategy for racing an Iron-distance event:

Pre-Race Meal when TO wakes up – slices of toast with jam

About 45 minutes prior to the cannon – 2 servings of Lemon UCAN Energy powder

On Bike – 3 bottles each with 2 servings of Unflavored UCAN Energy mixed with 2 servings of high glycemic carbohydrate in ~20 ounces of water. About 2 caffeinated gels.

On Run – Tim consumes far less during the run due to the “front loading” he’s done on the bike, but what he does take is from the course, usually caffeinated gels and flat coke.

Analyzing Tim's Triathlon Nutrition Plan

You’ll notice that the above race plan has quite a lot of high glycemic carbohydrates in it, far more than he uses during his typical training days. That’s because Tim’s energy expenditure, as a World Champion Triathlete, is at intensely high levels for long periods of time and through working with a sports scientist, TO has found that he performs best that way.

A typical athlete will be working at a lower percentage of FTP, on a lower FTP, meaning they won’t be outputting the massive watts that Tim is outputting. Therefore, many of our users find that they perform best on pure UCAN. Others find that they perform best in their high-intensity sessions and races on a mixture of UCAN and high glycemic carbohydrates – you’ll have to test and find what works best for you.

For more on Tim O’Donnell’s triathlon nutrition plans, here's a recording of T.O. on The UCAN Show talking about his race and nutrition plan for Kona.

Follow Tim on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook @TOINTRI and through the Tim & Rinny Show on YouTube.
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