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Fueling for Endurance Sports

Fueling for Endurance Sports
by Douglas Bush

With all that is written about nutrition is has become increasingly difficult to decipher what is good to eat and the foods it might be best to stay away from. There basic strategies that we can use to help prepare for training, maintain intensity during the workouts, and to help recover for next sessions. During over 60 minutes it is especially important to use these ideas.

Before a workout

Hydration is very important for general health and athletic performance. Being just a little be dehydrated can have huge effects on performance. A basic rule of thumb is to drink enough water so that your urine is a very pale yellow. Urine that is dark yellow is an indication of dehydration.

Eating before a workout is a good idea, especially before a long run or bike. Most of the calories should be from carbohydrates with just a little bit of protein and very little fat. If you do your long run or ride in the morning eat a breakfast of about 500 – 600 calories at least 1.5 hours before your run. Items that are easily digestible with a high concentration of carbs should be the focus. Don’t eat too much fruit or protein as they take longer to digest.

Following is a sample menu for breakfast.

Cereal with milk or rice milk: ~400 Cal
Toast with a little peanut butter or jelly: ~100 Cal
Coffee – If you normally drink it in the morning
Small orange juice: ~100 Cal

If you are working out in the middle of the day or in the evening try eat 1.5 hours before. You should shoot for 200 to 350 calories of mainly carbohydrate. Foods with a little protein and fat are ok as long as they don’t upset your stomach. Sports bars are convenient and are good if you are in a hurry but it is better to eat whole foods. Items like a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread or yogurt make great pre-workout snacks.

During the workout
For workout shorter than one hour you don’t have to worry so much about hydration and nutrition during the session, although it is not a bad idea to carry water. For the longer sessions it is very important to stay hydrated and topped off with fuel.

What I would suggest is to try and drink a 1/2 liter of fluid per hour and about 200 calories per hour from gels, sports bars, fig newtons, or other foods that are mainly carbohydrate. It is best to consume sports drink during workouts but often times eating gel with sports drink can cause stomach problems. You should try to eat food with water but if this is not possible try it with sports drink and see how you feel. What you are looking to get is about 200 to 250 kcal/hour total for sports drink and food.


After the workout
After any workout one hour or longer make sure to eat at least 0.3 to 0.35 g of carbohydrate per pound of body weight and roughly .05 g of protein within 30 minutes of completing the workout. For 150 pound person this equates to 45 grams of carbohydrates and 8 grams of protein or roughly 300 calories.

Recovery drinks such a Endurox R4 (or other brands), fruit smoothies, bagels will really help you recover for the next day’s workout. This replenishes your carbohydrate stores and prepares your for the next workout. If you wait longer than 30 minutes you body is not as receptive to replace the store carbohydrates.