Aussie athlete, Ellie Salthouse, has been a pro athlete for over a decade now; becoming a professional triathlete at the age of 16. Not content with enjoying considerable success as an ITU triathlete, Ellie is also a 70.3 Ironman tri-athlete, and has picked up recent wins in both Boulder & Miami.
We stole a few moments with with Brisbane & Boulder based athlete to quiz her a little on her nutrition...
Ahead of a race, what sorts of food/snacks are you having, & when are you eating? "I usually eat 4 meals a day; pre-training snack, breakfast, lunch and dinner. I literally eat the same things every day; banana and coffee before my first session, eggs on toast (with lots of butter) for breakfast, lunch is always a salad with chicken/tuna/meat of some sort, and dinner it red meat with salad or vegetables.
A few days out from a race, or before a big training session, I’ll add some brown rice in with dinner. I am a creature of habit and prefer to eat the same things each day. I rarely snack, but if I do, it’s usually trail mix, occasionally some chocolate covered almonds or some fruit and yoghurt"
What do you eat after competing? "After I race, I ALWAYS have a big burger with fries. Then if I can fit it, I’ll have ice cream or cheesecake for dessert. Ice cream and cheesecake are the things I miss most whilst training, so I make sure to indulge post race for the day".
Does your diet change much between off & on-season? "My diet pretty much stays the same year round. In the off season, I might let myself go out for meals more often than in the off-season, as I socialize more, and I might let myself sneak a few sweets or chocolates here and there. But mostly, it is the same, just a little less strict in the off-season".
What are your thoughts on protein bars & shakes? "I really don’t like protein bars, and, up until recently, I wasn’t a huge fan of protein shakes either. However, I was finding that after REALLY hard training sessions, I was taking a long time to recover in comparison to my teammates, so I decided to add a water-based protein shake post session. I found it helped a lot. It has a lot of calories though, so I try to only have it post really intense workouts. Other workouts, I will just have my eggs on toast immediately after".
Do you eat much at the gym/after the gym? "Not really. My gym workouts are mostly about stability and mobility, rather than lifting heavy. So I don’t really need any food during or post gym workouts".
What does a triathletes gym session look like for you (lots of weights, or cardio, or a mix)? "It consists of a lot of hip, knee and ankle stability. I don’t lift too heavy, but I still like to challenge myself in the gym with a small amount of weight. The more weight, the more difficult to maintain stability, so I always make sure I gradually increase weight over time. I don’t do any cardio as part of my gym program, I save that for my other training sessions".
What is your cheat meal? "Burger, ice cream or cheesecake!"
What meal(s) do rely on the most at home? "Eggs on toast with avocado is definitely my most reliable meal. It’s my standard breakfast and my favorite meal of the day. I usually put lots of butter on the toast too (butter is my weakness)!"
Do you have a favourite recipe? "At the moment, I am loving quiche. I make it at least once a week, each week making a different flavor".
Is there anything you actively avoid? "I usually try to avoid processed foods and most types of candies. I have no self control with these types of foods, so it’s better to just avoid them".
How important is hydration at your level? "Super important, although I don’t think I’m very good at it. I don’t log or monitor my hydration levels on a day-to-day basis, but I do try to have a water bottle with me most of the day. I only drink electrolyte during racing, hard or long training sessions, or the few days leading up to a race".
You've been an elite athlete for a number of years now, has your diet changed or developed in this time? "I’ve seen multiple dietitians over my years as an athlete, and I’ve found some things helpful and others not. As a young athlete, I would try to starve myself and deprive myself of certain foods, but now, I give my body what it craves most of the time. Over time, I’ve found that in doing so, my body no longer craves sweets and the foods that I used to steer clear of. I think eating the same things each day gives me good routine, which I know works for my training and nutrition requirements".
Do you have any pre-race rituals? "In terms of food, the night before a race, I always have pizza or pasta. But my other ritual is painting my nails before a race".