Fat is a very important, calorie-dense macronutrient for a triathlete. Fat is a significant fuel source for the body at rest and during low intensity, long duration training sessions. Even the leanest athlete has sufficient fat stored in the body to fuel 2-3 hours of training. Due to the nature of the sport, some athletes are body conscious and may restrict fat intake to help with body fat reduction. This practice is not advised as fat serves many important functions. Fat is important to health and performance because:
• It is the most energy-dense macronutrient, which can help those with high calorie requirements meet their needs. It provides 9 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram for carbohydrates and protein.
• It provides the building blocks for hormones.
• It helps with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K.
• It maintains healthy skin and cell membranes.
• It cushions and protects delicate internal organs.
Daily Fat Requirements
Most endurance athletes tend to perform their best when 20−30% of their total calories come from fat. In more practical terms, athletes should have at least 0.5 grams of fat per pound of body weight. A 150 pound athlete would require about 75 grams per day.
The three main fats are saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Athletes should limit their intake of saturated fat (whole dairy products, high fat meats, butter, lard) to less than 10% of total fat (or