Jesse Kropelnicki is an elite level triathlon coach who founded The Core Diet and QT2 Systems. In our opinion... Jesse is one of the most knowledgeable leading providers of personal triathlon coaching, run coaching, and sports nutrition.
In addition to his primary focus of coaching, Jesse is a veteran age group triathlete. He is the triathlon coach of many professional athletes, including Caitlin Snow, Pedro Gomes, Linsey Corbin, and most recently Angela Naeth, among others. He was also the nutrition/cardio advisor for professional UFC fighter Kenny Florian.
I had the chance to ask him a few questions about The Core Diet - what it is, and how it could help athletes achieve their goals in their sport. Enjoy!
PD: What is the Core Diet?
JK: The Core Diet is a two-fold process:
1) day to day it's a way of eating for athletes and non athletes that allows them to get lean at the right times, enhance immunity, and overall enhance performance. The core diet also has processes to help athletes, over the long term, change their body composition specific to their sport's needs (i.e., gain or lose muscle as needed).
2) during training sessions and during races its learning how to fuel for your body's needs and more importantly teaching your body how to handle what it actually needs. Too many athletes arrive on race day in a position where they can't even handle what their body requires - not a good place to be when starting a race!!
PD: How is the Core Diet different?
JK: The Core Diet is founded in logic. There is no magic here....its proven nutrition principles wrapped around the very specific needs of endurance athletes, with no shortcuts or radical approaches. We teach athletes how to eat between training sessions to promote systematic health - the foundation of building speed. We then teach them how to adapt that way of eating around workout sessions that they are doing. I think the biggest difference between us and others is that we have a group of 5 registered dietitians that work with athletes, mostly Ironman athletes, every single day......thats what they do! We get it.
PD: What types of services do you provide athletes? Is the Core Diet designed specifically for athletes?
JK: We generally provide two primary services with varying options for ongoing support following those initial services. The first is day to day nutrition plans sculpted to the athletes needs, and targeted at race day body composition goals. The second is detailed race fueling plans that address an athletes specific needs - fluids, carbohydrates and sodium. The day to day nutrition plans can be followed up with ongoing 1-1 dietitian support to help drive toward specific goals. They can also be preceded with blood work do review specific markers that help determine the environment for performance - nutrition is then be sculpted around the needs identified by the blood work.
PD: Discuss some basic guidelines for the following:
Daily Nutrition -
JK: We focus on what we call the "Core Foods" - lean meats, fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds.....also legumes and lean dairy. These are mostly the foods that humans have evolved on for millions of years, have the highest level of nutrient density, and help keep blood sugar stable. We use grains and refined sugars carefully around training sessions and races where they serve a specific purpose - to fuel the extraordinary tasks athletes ask of their bodies. Extraordinary feats require extraordinary fuels!
Race week nutrition -
nothing really changes from the day to day nutrition until the final 48 hours. At that point we remove most of the Core Foods mentioned above and instead focus on easily digestible carbohydrates. Yup, bland grains!
Race Day fueling -
Our athletes, some of the fastest runners in the world, generally consume more carbohydrates than their competitors. One of the key differences though is their focus in training to practice the fueling every single day! This does two things: 1) trains their gut to handle what their body requires on race day and 2) ensures they end workout sessions as little depleted as possible! Many athletes don't practice their race day nutrition with enough focus and therefore arrive on race day trying to consume way more than they have practiced with even if it is what their body requires!
PD: For athletes struggling with body composition, how do you advise them for achieving their race weight?
JK: Start with the simplest approach possible!! No need to over complicate it unless you have to. We always try and take a qualitative approach with athletes first. There is no shortage of areas to spend stress in a triathletes life - whether it be training stress, mental stress, work stress, or other. Because of this, the goals with athletes is to spend their available stress where they get the most return on performance....not necessarily where its the most fun. This is one of those cases (nutrition) where if you don't have to spend stress here, don't. With that, we try to reinforce some of the nutrition principles I have discussed above and go over some of the key changes they should make in their nutrition program. 90% of the time, this does the trick! Rarely do we need to go to the level of food logging, but even when we do, we use it as a learning experience and a short term tool. Its more about learning the right habits that will stay with you for life.
If you would like to hear more about Jesse's thoughts on nutrition and The Core Diet principles and logic. Check out the PODCAST by Brett from ZENTRIATHLON.
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PAUL DUNCAN JR
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