Interview with Beth Shutt,
Professional Triathlete

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Beth Shutt, Professional Triathlete

Beth Shutt and I have known each other for several years–as internet friends! Although we have never met in person, I have had the pleasure of watching her athletic career skyrocket via social media. Racing for the second year as a professional triathlete, her most recent accomplishment was finishing 5th pro at Ironman Muncie 70.3. This year has been a successful one for this gal from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania–four top ten finishes, two of which were top five places.

I turned to Beth a few years ago to fine tune my eating habits, because in addition to being an accomplished athlete, Beth is also a registered dietician. She combines these two passions (sports and nutrition) to provide customized fuel planning specifically for athletes through her business, The Athlete’s Eutrophia.

Recently, I asked Beth if she would be willing to share some of her nutrition tips and tricks, and she happily agreed.

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When did you realize the importance of proper re/fueling and how it effects your success?

I think on some level, I always knew nutrition played a huge role in athletic performance and that’s why I initially became interested in nutrition in high school, leading me to study nutrition in college to become a dietitian. Nutrition and proper fueling have always intrigued me. It wasn’t until recently though, that I really started to understand the importance of every day training nutrition and proper fueling for long course triathlon. I just started with a new coach (QT2 Systems) and the importance they place on fueling both in training and racing really surprised me. It’s such an integral part of racing well at the half and full Ironman (IM) distances, and QT2 really hammers into you the importance of taking adequate calories, fluid and electrolytes for every single workout. So far, I’ve seen it make a big difference in my training and I’m sure I’ll see it make a big difference in my racing.

How did you go about making changes (if any) to your diet to focus on training and racing?

The biggest changes I’ve made in recent weeks have been focused on fueling during training–especially long rides and runs, but even on shorter workouts–to make sure I’m getting the most out of myself each day. For example, I’ve been practicing my IM fueling plan during my long rides and runs religiously, instead of being lax about it and just eating whatever I happen to have on hand, or buy at the convenience store along the way. Not only has this improved my training (by fueling properly) but it’s also given me a lot of confidence that I will know what to do come race day. I used to be pretty stingey with calories during shorter workouts–probably not taking in as many that I needed and definitely not focusing on electrolytes, etc. But now, I’ve really started to think ahead about what I need for each workout. I’ve been racing triathlons for years, so you would think these are all things I would have considered, but I had a pretty relaxed attitude about it all up until to now.

As for every day eating, I’ve always done a pretty good job there. I focus on fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, dairy, and some whole grains. Recovery eating has been a very important part of my regimen too, making sure I get in carbs and protein (and fluid!) right after workouts so that I’m ready to go for the next one.

What new foods, or hydration ideas, are you incorporating into your training (if any)? 

I just started trying beet juice. I had heard about how it can cause nausea, and I was worried about that. There was such good research out there about the affects of beet juice (nitrates more specifically) that I figured I had to give it a shot. This lead me to buy beet juice concentrate (a little company in the UK called Beet It! makes this product) because you only have to drink a little “shot” of the beet juice to get all that you need. I use the beet juice before especially tough workouts and/or races and I’ve tolerated it really well with very good performance results!

What is your favorite training meal?

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE a good smoothie after a big training session, especially in the summer. I add some sort of protein component (protein powder, milk, greek yogurt, etc.) and then tons of greens and frozen fruit.

What is the one guilty pleasure food you have no will power over or your favorite post-race indulgence?

This question is sooooo simple: PIZZA!!!!!!!!! I LOVE pizza!!! And to me, it’s the perfect food–you have vegetables, grains, protein, dairy and even fruit if you add pineapple! HA!!!! I know this–I could not live without pizza.

Thanks Beth! You can follow Beth’s journey via her blog, The Trial of Miles, Miles of Trials.

 

Because Beth loves smoothies so much, I played around with a couple of new recipes with her in mind.

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Pineapple Cilantro Pre-Workout Smoothie

Gather:
2 cups fresh (or frozen) pineapple chunks
1/4 c. fresh cilantro leaves (stems removed)
1 c. plain coconut water
1 1/2 T. Agave nectar
1/4 tsp. salt 
Ice (as necessary)

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until the cilantro is well incorporated.

Tip: Beth said she loves adding greens to her smoothies. While you wouldn’t want to add them to this recipe (too much fiber for pre-workout), adding spinach or kale, and a protein (plain greek yogurt) would make a refreshing, post-workout drink.

 

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Lemon Blueberry Recovery Smoothie

Gather:
1 c. plain, low-fat Kefir
1 c. frozen blueberries
1/2 frozen banana, cut into chunks
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
2 T. honey

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until the blueberry skins are very, very small–so you don’t end up with them in your teeth.

Tip: Make sure your Kefir is really cold, and you use frozen berries and banana, verses fresh. This will give you a really thick, rich, and creamy beverage. Because of the lower-calorie content in this drink, it’s perfect for after shorter workouts.

 

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Chocolate Beet Recovery Smoothie

Gather:
1 c. chocolate almond milk
1 serving chocolate protein powder
1 1/2 beets (cooked) or beet powder (I use Pure Clean Powder)
1/4 cup cacao nibs
1 frozen banana, cut into chunks
1/2 tsp. instant espresso powder
1 tsp. malt powder (optional)

Method: 

Blend the cacao nibs, alone, until they become a fine powder. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. So chocolaty–you can’t taste the beets!

Tip: While the benefits of beet juice are shown to improve athletic performance when consumed before a workout, drinking it after isn’t bad and with the anti-oxidant power of the cacao nibs, can aide in recovery.