Endurance athletes need to pay special attention to their diet and lifestyle to be successful and healthy competitors. As a marathon runner myself, it's easy to simply binge on the first food I see after hard training sessions. But a little thought and preplanning can prevent injury, help performance, and prevent fatigue. Here are some nutrition tips to keep the body competition-ready through intense training.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Balance macronutrient (carbohydrates, fats, and protein) intake with the following ratios.
60-65 % of your calorie intake should be from carbohydrates (or 6-10 g/kg body weight)
10-35% should come from protein
Protein - Endurance athletes usually require increased protein intake of more than 0.8g/kg/day
25-35% should come from fat
Decreased performance can be observed with just 1-3% dehydration
Collapse occurs at 7% dehydration
3.7 L / day for men, 2.7 L/ day for women → aim for 5-6 glasses a day
Some water comes from foods with high water content like cucumber, watermelon, spinach, and apples
Extreme water loss can occur with endurance activities
Weigh yourself before and after event
During the event, aim for ½ cup of water every 15 minutes
3 Days Before the race
Increase glycogen stores to increase energy reserves
Only carb load for activities or events that will be longer than 90 minutes
Increase carbohydrate intake to 65-70% of your calorie intake
Choose easily absorbed forms of carbs, such as rice, pasta, pancakes, tortillas
Do not overeat or stuff yourself, especially the night before the race. Keep your total calorie intake the same as usual, just increase the percentage from carbs.
If you’re a coffee drinker, don’t forget your morning cup.
Choose a small balanced breakfast 2-3 hours before your event: include easy-to-digest carbs and foods that will not upset your stomach. Avoid eating to fullness. Here are some easy options
½ bagel with peanut butter and a banana
1 piece of toast with jam, 1 fried egg
A bowl of oatmeal with almonds and blueberries
1 energy bar and a piece of fruit
Events lasting more than an hour, drink solutions with 6-8% carbs to balance glucose and fluid replacement in moderate amounts every 20 minutes or so
After more than 90 minutes in the event, it becomes important to eat easily digestible sources of carbs (0.7g / kg body weight)
First replenish your fluid loss. Drink the recommended amount of 20-24 ounces of water for every pound lost
You will need to replenish your glycogen stores by eating a meal fairly soon after your event. Many runners are nauseous and can’t eat immediately after their event. But once the nausea subsides, enjoy a carb and protein heavy meal. Use the 4:1 ratio to determine what to eat (4 parts carbohydrates to 1 part protein).