Food Diary: What a Xterra Triathlete Eats in A Day

Xterra Athlete Natia van Heerden shares her food diary with us


The 2018 calendar is filled with events for fitness fanatics. One that is coming up soon is the  2018 Fedhealth XTERRA Grabouw, so we asked XTERRA Ambassador Natia van Heerden about the meal plan that gets her through a three-hour training set and an eight-hour work day.




I don’t usually eat a big meal before a morning set, but a smoothie bowl is easy to make and quick to eat in the morning before (or at) work. I buy a whole lot of bananas and let them ripen, then I peel and bag them in zip lock bags, and keep them in the freezer for smoothies!


My Favorite Smoothie Bowl Recipes


Berry Breakfast Smoothie Bowl


Makes 1 serving


1 frozen banana

½ c frozen berries or fresh berries

½ c plain yoghurt

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp chia seeds

1 tbsp ButtaNutt Macadamia spread

1 c full cream milk

60ml raw oats

10 mint leaves

Tip: Use full fat yoghurt and drink full cream milk.



Blend everything together in a blender until smooth and thick. Garnish with a sprinkle of chia seeds, sliced banana and sliced strawberries.


Mango and coconut Smoothie Bowl


Makes 1 serving


1 frozen banana

½ mango, rough chunks

1 c coconut milk

1 tsp chia seeds

60ml raw oats

1 tbsp ButtaNutt Honey Almond

5 basil leaves

½ c plain yoghurt



Blend everything together in a blender until smooth and thick. Garnish with a sprinkle of chia seeds, sliced banana and sliced strawberries.


I eat my main breakfast around 9am, after my morning training session is done and the smoothie has worn off. It’s mostly eggs, avocado and goat’s cheese (or any cheese) on toast. These ingredients are great for muscle recovery and will satisfy any cravings you might have. Add bacon or salmon if your budget allows, but keep it simple.


Tip: Wherever possible, try to buy bread that’s made from stone ground flour. That’s the good stuff. Stay away from any white loaf that’s already sliced and stays fresh for a week. Bread should be stale the next day. Most artisanal bakeries use stone ground flour and chances are they will have a great variety of amazing breads to suit your dietary needs.


Healthy snacks

It’s very important to eat something within 20 minutes after a training session. Chocolate milk or milkshakes are not ideal, as they contain a huge amount of sugar and fat. Below are my recovery snacks:


  • ½ avocado, 1/3 log of plain goat’s cheese, on any crackers
  • Sliced mango, plain yoghurt, a sprinkle of dark brown sugar and some cinnamon powder. Cinnamon is very good for inflammation.
  • ButtaNutt snack pack
  • A banana with a ButtaNutt snack pack
  • Enduren Recover drink mixed with full cream milk


Food Diary: What a Xterra Triathlete Eats in A Day


I love adding a slice or two of ciabatta bread as an extra to my lunch, especially if I have to do an intense bike set the afternoon. It makes a great open sandwich!


My current go to lunch is a quinoa salad with chicken or a salmon and avo bowl.


Quinoa salad with chicken

Cooking quinoa is not as daunting as it may seem. It can be enjoyed cold or hot, in salads or part of a main meal. Quinoa is a great source of protein and can be stored for up to three days in an airtight container.


The ratio is 3:1 water to quinoa. Add it to a saucepan with a pinch of salt, making sure that the pan is not too full. Allow it to boil until the quinoa is soft but not mushy. Drain the remaining water.

It usually takes about 10-15 minutes. Add salt if needed.



Makes 1 serving


1 small bunch watercress

½ c cooked quinoa

1 small bunch of rocket

1 chicken breast cooked in olive oil

Squeeze of lemon juice

Good lug of olive oil

1 handful baby tomatoes, roasted in the oven for 5 minutes

Season with sea salt


Salmon and avo bowl

Tip: Buy salmon (or any fresh fish) from your local fish monger, you’ll save a lot of money and the quality of produce will be amazing!



Makes 1 serving

150g fresh salmon, cut into small cubes

½ avocado, cut into small cubes

Lettuce leaves, cut into strips

½ c cooked jasmin rice

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 small handful baby tomatoes (optional)

Sushi mayo (optional)


The rice must be cooled down, otherwise it will cook the salmon. In a bowl, mix through the avo, salmon, lettuce, tomato and soy and spoon over the rice. Add sushi mayo if you have.




For dinner I usually opt for a pasta or fish dish. If you have a run the next morning, try avoid heavy foods that contain red meat. It will leave you feeling heavy and sluggish.



Go for good quality pasta, preferably handmade which can be bought from good delis. I love this for dinner, as it’s so quick and easy to make. Add the pasta to salted, boiling water (should taste like sea water) and cook until al dente.



Makes 1 serving


1 small handful cocktail tomatoes

1 red onion, sliced

2 tbsp olive oil

Fresh basil leaves

3 tbsp grated Parmesan

1 large courgette, ribbons made with a potato peeler

Pasta or noodles of your choice



Drain pasta. Heat a pan and add the olive oil, fresh chopped tomatoes, courgette ribbons and sliced red onion. Cook for a minute. Add the pasta and toss through before removing it from the heat and adding Parmesan and fresh basil. Season with sea salt if needed.



I love sole, as it’s so easy to cook and literally takes minutes to prepare. I buy mine cleaned from the fish monger and serve it with a huge salad. If I’m very hungry, I’ll add a few baby potatoes that I pop in the microwave for 5 minutes and then in the oven with fresh thyme, garlic and olive oil.


Season the sole on both sides with salt and pepper, then dust with a little flour. Any flour will do.

Heat a pan large enough for the sole, add olive oil and then add the sole. Leave until golden brown on both sides and pop into an oven at 200°C for 5 to 7 minutes.

I enjoy a browned butter sauce with sage and capers with the sole. Melt 2 tbsp butter and leave until it starts to foam, then add four capers and a few leaves fresh sage. Allow the butter to brown and spoon over the sole.



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Photos by Natia van Heerden


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Natia van Heerden

Chef and Restauranteur at Summerfields Rose Retreat & Spa
Natia is a former Springbok gymnast who turned to XTERRA after retiring from her gymnastics career.
In 2013 Natia qualified for the XTERRA World Championships in Maui and played 3rd in the 20-24 age category. In 2014 she qualified again and returned to Maui to win the 20-24 age category and under 25 category. Since then Natia has transitioned to Ironman racing, keeping XTERRA as part of her training and racing schedule in the PRO division.
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