• Certified Piedmontese

Fueling Elite Athletes: IRONMAN Competitors Discuss Nutrition & Lean Protein

IRONMAN: The name says everything you need to know about the physical and mental demands of this famously challenging series of endurance races. On October 12th, nearly 2,500 of the world’s best athletes proved their fortitude in the IRONMAN World Championship, a 140.6-mile journey along the black lava rock of the Kona Coast of Hawai'i. Athletes like Bobbe Greenberg, Jim Lukanich, Pete Young, and Wyman Roberts, who are #poweredbyPiedmontese, finished the grueling race under the scorching Hawai'i sun.

The incredible athletes who compete in IRONMAN events train and compete in ways that rapidly deplete fuel stores, making nutrition a crucial component of their training. Here’s how some of the world’s top triathletes balance these demands.



Chris McDonald

A seven-time IRONMAN Champion, Chris has completed over 50 IRONMAN races since 2001 and recently broke the men’s record time at Ultraman Florida. He’s also the founder of a thriving race team, an apparel company, and a triathlon coaching service. In short, he’s an expert when it comes to maximizing performance.

"A lean protein like Certified Piedmontese beef helps me meet my nutritional goals in a healthy manner because it has fewer grams of fat, saturated fat, and calories per ounce than conventional beef."

Q: How important is protein to your training and recovery?

Chris: Protein, especially natural sources of protein, plays a huge role. Racing in the triathlon and ultra-long distances causes a great deal of muscle breakdown, and getting the right nutrition into your body is crucial.

Q: There are a lot of options when it comes to protein sources. When and how do you incorporate protein into your diet?

Chris: I try to follow a balanced, clean diet that includes all the food groups. The post-workout meal (within 30 minutes) needs to be higher in carbohydrates, which is purely to replenish your glycogen stores and set yourself up for good workouts the next day. Later in the day, I make sure to include a quality protein to give my body the right nutrition to repair and build muscles. A lean protein like Certified Piedmontese beef helps me meet my nutritional goals in a healthy manner because it has fewer grams of fat, saturated fat, and calories per ounce than conventional beef.


Q: Do you have a favorite cut or preferred way to prepare Certified Piedmontese?

Chris: I always love a good roast, and my wife makes an amazing Certified Piedmontese standing rib roast. I also really like the filet mignon cooked on the grill.

Q: How important is it for you to consume responsibly raised animal proteins?

Chris: What you put in your body is so important! There are lots of products out there claiming to be healthy. But when you actually look into them, they aren’t farm raised or they are given steroids, unnecessary antibiotics, or growth hormones. When we started looking into Certified Piedmontese, the most important factor was the fact that it is clean and wholesome—no one needs steroids or antibiotics in their protein sources. My kids love it too!

Dede Griesbauer

A three-time IRONMAN Champion and ten-time NCAA All-American swimmer at Stanford, Dede Griesbauer knows what it takes to compete and win at the highest levels. And when it comes to nutrition, Dede has found there are lots of benefits to fueling her body with quality protein.

"I rely on Certified Piedmontese beef for my evening meal. Not only do I get my protein and iron in one great-tasting cut of meat, but capping off the day with a good protein source allows my body to go to work overnight, while I sleep, when most muscle recovery is happening."

Q: How important is protein to your training and recovery?

Dede: Good, lean protein is key to recovery, maintaining muscle, and staying strong for the long miles that IRONMAN demands. In the earlier years of my career, I was sloppy about nutrition, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned those mistakes can be huge barriers to my performance.

Q: There are a lot of options when it comes to protein sources. How important is lean protein?

Dede: I used to think it was perfectly acceptable to get my protein from yogurt, protein bars, and powders that I'd mix into smoothies. As any good nutritionists will tell you, bars and powders are great for quick, between-workout snacks when you don't have time for a proper meal—but nothing beats the nutritional quality and benefits of real food. I rely on Certified Piedmontese beef for my evening meal. Not only do I get my protein and iron in one great-tasting cut of meat, but capping off the day with a good protein source allows my body to go to work overnight, while I sleep, when most muscle recovery is happening. Every meal also has some sort of grain or good carbohydrate, as well as lots of colorful fruits and veggies.

Q: How does proper nutrition impact your performance?

Dede: I had a real wake-up call in 2016. After a string of injuries, my doctor told me that I’d either have to clean up my nutrition or quit the sport. Unfortunately, I’ve always been a picky eater and looked at eating as part of my job, rather than something I enjoyed. Since I’ve found Certified Piedmontese, the most incredible thing has happened; I actually look forward to eating dinner because the beef is so tasty and tender—while still being lean and good for me. I am 100% convinced that I can still compete at age 48 with women half my age because of my intense focus on good nutrition.

TJ Tollakson

TJ is a professional triathlete and the founder and CEO of Rüster Sports, which manufactures Dimond Bikes. Between tinkering with new bike designs, family time, and pounding the pavement in Des Moines, Iowa, TJ makes his nutrition a priority.

"Replacing fat calories with protein calories is just what Certified Piedmontese beef accomplishes. A traditional four-ounce filet mignon has 20 grams of fat, 22 grams of protein, and 280 calories. A four-ounce Certified Pidmontese filet mignon has 4.5 grams of fat, 26 grams of protein, and only 150 calories."

Q: How important is protein to your training and recovery?

TJ: Protein is essential for proper recovery and adaptation to training. I start each morning with 20 grams of protein before my first workout, and I eat at least 100 grams of protein each day to ensure I’m always supplying my muscles with the fuel they need to recover from intense training.

Q: There are a lot of options when it comes to protein sources. How important is lean protein?

TJ: Lean sources of protein are important to help control my overall caloric balance. Each gram of carbohydrate or protein contains four calories, and each gram of fat contains nine calories; by reducing some of the fat in your diet, you can reduce the number of calories you consume. Replacing fat calories with protein calories is just what Certified Piedmontese beef accomplishes. A traditional four-ounce filet mignon has 20 grams of fat, 22 grams of protein, and 280 calories. A four-ounce Certified Pidmontese filet mignon has 4.5 grams of fat, 26 grams of protein, and only 150 calories.

Q: Do you have a favorite cut or preferred way to prepare Certified Piedmontese?

TJ: I am a huge fan of the Certified Piedmontese filet mignon prepared on a 500°F grill, seared rare, and served with a side of grilled asparagus (with some Parmesan cheese) and cottage cheese. If I am finished with an evening workout, I love a good Certified Piedmontese burger on the grill—served Hawaiian Style with grilled pineapple and melted Swiss cheese on a ciabatta bun.

Q: How important is it for you to consume responsibly raised animal proteins?

TJ: Knowing where your food comes from is a huge benefit when you are concerned with your nutrition, performance, and of course, drug testing. No professional athlete wants to risk their reputation on ingredients that might be tainted with steroids. I try to source as much of my food from local and reputable vendors as possible, so I like that Certified Piedmontese beef uses electronic identification tracking, DNA testing, and voluntary third party audits to ensure my beef is the best around.


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