Proper nutrition for endurance training and racing is critical to achieving your training, racing and recovery goals. There are many foods you can eat to help you perform at your best and keep you energized and ready to train. Nutrition for endurance training and racing is not easy and takes practice to get it right for your particular needs. In this post I describe some best practices and food suggestions to help you through your training and racing.
Daily nutrition is what you need day to day for balanced diet to perform, and rebuild. You want to eat foods that will repair your body from the workouts as well as prepare for your next workout or event.
- Supplements are recommended to support your immune system and recovery. I recommend 1000 mg Vitamin C, 4000IU D, and a multi-vitamin
- Stay away from or limit inflammatory foods, such as refined sugars, grains and dairy. Instead eat fruit, potatoes, rice and almond, soy or coconut milk. Inflammatory foods hinder your recovery and increase soreness. Consider gluten free foods which non-inflammatory.
- Nitrate oxide rich foods have great nutrients like antioxidants and vitamins to support your stressed system, but what I like most about them is the Nitrate Oxide that helps deliver more oxygen to the muscles that provides more strength and endurance. Nitrate Oxide rich foods include: kale, spinach, beets or beet juice/powder.
- MCT oils are in sources of saturated fat that provide great energy for endurance sessions. MCT oils feed the mitochondria (powers the cells in your muscles) increasing your endurance and power. Examples of MCT sources include avocado and avocado oil, coconut oil and raw olive oil.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids reduce inflammation but also improves the delivery of oxygen. Examples of Omega 3 rich foods include egg yolks, chia or hemp seeds, raw walnuts and some fish like wild salmon or fish oil suplement.
- Hydration helps the food digest and affects performance and recovery. General rule is 0.5 oz per pound body weight. For example a 160lb person needs 80oz of water day.
- Carbohydrate are the main fuel source for endurance athletes. The amount of carbohydrates need depends on the type of training you are doing.
Type of Training
Daily Carb Needs per Pound
(per pound body weight) Moderate duration and low intensity 2.3 to 3.2 grams per pound Moderate- to heavy-training load and high intensity 3 to 4.5 grams per pound Extreme training and high-intensity races (longer than 4 to 5 hours) > 3.6 to 5.5 grams per pound
- Protein is used to build and repair the muscles and provide a small amount of energy. Consuming protein during exercise may cause GI issues or an upset stomach, so take caution. Protein consumption depends on the type of training you are doing.
Type of Training
Daily Protein Needs per Pound
(per pound body weight) Light to moderate training 0.55 to 0.8 grams per pound
Sample meal plan for a for a day of moderate training 1-2 hour session
- 1 serving Greek Yogurt with chia seeds and ground almonds and walnuts. Maybe add granola if training early in day
- 2 whole eggs and toast with nut butter if training later in the day
- 2-3 cups coffee
- Pre-training snack if more than two hours since last meal.
- Pre-training Smoothie Or 1/2 Energy bar Or Infinit Nutrtion Mud with almond or aoconut milk
- Lunch (after training)
- Recovery Smoothie right after training or Infinit Nutrtion Repair if you unable to make a smoothie.
- Within two hours of completing, small turkey sandwich with spinach, apple, almonds
- Big Mixed Salad – kale and spinach and other raw vegetables with olive oil and vinegar dressing, or 1/2 plate vegetables
- Lean Protein free range beef, buffalo, chicken or wild fish
- 1 serving starch (rice, potato etc) if big training planned the next day (skip for weight loss)
Nutrition for Recovery
Recovery nutrition is the most important after training. You need to send fuel back to the muscles 30 minutes after a workout to start the replentishmet and repair of the muscles. A proper refuel will reduce soreness and start the repair to be ready for the next workout. After each of my workouts I recommend a Recovery Smoothie, it’s fast to prepare, tastes great and feeds the body the nutrients to be ready for the next workout. If you are unable to make the smoothie then I recommend using Infinit Nutrition Repair with almond or coconut milk.
Being properly fueled for your event is critical to it’s success. The event demands a great more energy than your normal training and you’ll want to fuel it properly. Here are some tips on top of the daily nutrition you can apply when fueling for a big training day or an event.
- add an additional 25-50g carbohydrates of non-gluten starches, (potato, rice, gluten free pasta) 1 – 2 days before the event.
- 1 serving Beet juice each day during the week of an event
- Pre-Race Smoothie 1.5-2hrs before the event
- 24-32 oz water
During Race Nutrition
As you may know, staying fueled for endurance events is one of the most challenging aspects of the sport. You can do all the training, hit all the power or pace targets but during the race you fall short of your goals and it’s probably because you didn’t fuel properly during the event. Not only do you need to stay on top of calories but you need to stay hydrated. Dehydration will lead to elevated Heart Rate, reduced power, head ache and stomach ache and possibly DNF. Here are some tips to guide you to successful fueling.
- For events less than 3hrs 45-60g carbohydrates per hour
- Events longer than 3-6hrs 50-70g carbohydrates per hour
- Events longer than 6+hrs 60-80g carbohydrates per hour
- 16-24 oz of water per hour
- Start eating and drinking the first hour. Don’t risk a fuel deficit, you’ll likely pay for it later with a DNF
- I recommend keeping fueling simple by including the calories in the fluid. I recommend Infinit Nutrition because you can customize the drink mix to meet your body and event needs.
- Include Electrolytes to help keep the muscles firing full strength, and limit risk of dehydration
- For events longer than 3hrs include Amino Acids
- Practice, Practice, practice your nutrition plan prior to your event
- Don’t try try new fuel at events. I’ve heard too many stories about people deviating from their plan and eating something new that caused an upset stomach or a DNF.
Proper nutrition for endurance training and racing is critical to your athletic success. To help you further with your endurance goals our Basic, Personal and Premium coaching plans include at no additional cost detailed nutrition guides developed by our nutrition partner, Kelli Jennings RD at Apex Nutrition. These guides will give you the details you need to use fuel to perform your best.
- Apex Nutrition Fuel Right Race Light eBook.
- 10 Superfoods for Endurance Athletes
- Eat Right for Endurance Sports