Triathletes happy to junk their diets

ELITE triathletes train like machines, but for most of them their diet is pretty "normal".

A study by University of the Sunshine Coast researcher Karen Birkenhead has found many triathletes had a combination of eating strategies.

Most had a flexible approach, meaning they did not rigidly control what they ate but rather allowed themselves to eat some foods from "outside" their normal diet.

"Although many triathletes are disciplined around their training and nutrition - avoiding certain foods before an important race - they will allow themselves those foods after the event," Ms Birkenhead said.

"Flexible control includes a more relaxed approach to eating, in which individuals watch what they eat ... without being overly restrictive.

"Rigid control, on the other hand, is an all-or-none approach to food choices with little room for foods considered outside the diet."

The research also found that men showed higher levels of flexible control than women.

Noosa triathlete and six-time Ironman champion Luke McKenzie (pictured) said while he always tried to keep a healthy and balanced diet he relaxed his eating regimen during his off-season.

"I have a very structured diet most of the time leading into races but I allow myself to splurge and relax in my off-season," Mr McKenzie said.

"If you're training right and eating generally the right food, it's really not that big deal to have the odd so-called bad food."

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