Nutrition for Endurance Training
One thing that many endurance practitioners question a lot is what kind of diet that they should be on regarding the type of activity they practice. Of course, what works with one person is not the same as another, but there are certain guidelines that are common to all including a rough guideline of how much carbohydrates, proteins and other nutrients to be consuming for your diet.
Energy for Exercise
To begin with, it’s good to understand how the foods we eat (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) can help us stimulate muscle contractions and maintain energy for longer periods of time.
Carbohydrates, in the form of glycogen, are the main source of energy for exercises of moderate to high intensity. Our fat reserves can also help in providing energy, especially for low intensity workouts over long periods of time. Finally protein, which is the nutrient used to conserve and repair muscle tissues. Because of this, people who want to build mass often consume a lot of protein for their diet in the form of protein bars and whey protein.
In the case of endurance practitioners, to maintain activity for long periods of time, this needs to continue to be replenished with carbohydrates of easy assimilation. Thus, during a race, cycling, mountain biking, running, orienteering, etc. A good source of carbohydrates are isotonic drinks, energy gels, energy bars with protein, marmalade cubes, or jelly.
Unlike fat, glycogen stores are much more limited, so it needs to be replenished hourly, otherwise fatigue will set in and the athlete will need to slow down.
How much to eat / drink
How much to eat or drink depends a lot on the intensity of exercise, the duration and type of metabolism we have (slow or fast), or the strategy we want to implement, but we recommend that endurance athletes consume between 30 to 60 grams (120 – 240 calories) of carbohydrates per hour during exercise. From the 3rd hour of training / competition onwards, the dose should be 90 g / hour, regardless of the weight of the athlete!
What to Eat
Every athlete has their own needs and preferences when it comes to replenishing energy. To find out what works best for you, try various foods and combinations during your workouts. There are several protein bars, containing whey protein, that can give your diet what it needs for maintaining high energy levels. Certain gels can also be very beneficial as well.
It varies in time of intake and quantity of food, and over time you will be able to determine your ideal style of refueling.
Some refueling options may include:
- Isotonic drinks with added carbohydrates
- Energy Protein Bars
- Carbohydrate Gels
- Fruit (banana or apple)
- Marmalade cubes
Endurance athletes rely mainly on carbohydrate intake as the main source of energy during exercise, rather than other nutrients like whey protein. Athletes who practice between one and five hours per day require a daily intake of 6 to 12 grams of hydrates per kilogram of body weight, depending on the duration and frequency of the training, whether there are bidirectional or not, and the body composition of the athlete. Thus, if an athlete needs to lower their body fat, they should implement a diet plan that could go through a carbohydrate restriction, out of the competitive season.
Hydration for Endurance Exercise
Moisturizing is one of the most important habits that a sports practitioner must have, be it endurance or not.
A good way to analyze our hydration needs as well as to know how much the climatic conditions during the training influence our water consumption, begins by weighing ourselves before and after the training. Ideally, weight loss during training / competition should always be less than 2%! And for every pound lost during training, drink about a liter to 1.5 l of water.
Another simple way to determine your post-workout hydration state is to check the color of the urine. A large amount of light-colored dilute urine probably means that we are well hydrated. A small amount of highly concentrated urine of dark color may mean that we do not consume the optimal amount of water and that we need to drink more water.
Staying hydrated is particularly important during exercise. Adequate fluid intake is essential for the practitioner’s comfort, performance and safety during training. The longer and more intense the activity, the more important