Fuelling Yourself For Endurance Training

It is scientifically proven that diet can affect our health, performance and recovery. Everyone has different nutritional needs and there is no ONE DIET that suits everyone. Some people may require more calories, protein, carbohydrates or fats, so I cannot express how important it is to experiment and work out what works best for you.

It is important to meet energy (calorie) needs during training in order to maintain performance and maintain good health. Failure to meet sufficient energy results in muscle loss, reduced performance, slow recovery, disruption of hormones, increased fatigue and increase risk of injury and illness.

But with all the confusing information out there, what should we be eating, and how much of it?
Ok so lets break it down.
Macronutrients: Carbohydrates, Protein and Fats why do we need them and what do they do?

Carbohydrates - The only source of energy that our brains can use. Carbs are stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles. Carbs provide more energy per volume of ATP than fat/protein so are considered more efficient forms of fuel. High intensity training has a greater need of carbs.
3-5g per Kg body weight = low/moderate intensity. eg 56kg = 224g carbohydrates per day
8-12g per Kg body weight = Endurance sports.

Protein - Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are needed for new tissue and the repair of body cells. Protein provide a small source of fuel for exercising. Extra protein is needed post workout to compensate for the increased muscle breakdown that occurs after intense exercise as well as building new muscle cells.
1.2-2g protein per Kg body weight = active person
0.7g per Kg body weight = sedentary person.

Fats - Fat make up part of the structure of brain tissues & nerves, cushion your organs and are an important source of fuel for exercise.
Fat intake should make up less than 35% of your daily energy intake but no less than 20%, otherwise there is a risk of deficient intake of fat soluble vitamins/EFA.
Omega 3 essential fatty acids are needed for the delivery of oxygen to muscles, improve endurance and recovery and help to reduce inflammation and stiffness.

Carbohydrates, fats and protein are all capable of providing energy for exercise as they can all be transported to muscle cells, however energy mainly comes from the brake down of carbohydrates and fats, whereas protein is only used in strenuous or prolonged exercise once glycogen stores are depleted eg marathon running.

Endurance sports such as long distance running trains the bodies existing muscles and has minimal muscle breakdown compared to strength and power training. The bodies preferred type of fuel for this form of exercise is carbohydrates and fats.

What to eat for endurance training:

Pre -workout (2-3hrs) Low GI carbohydrates (releases energy slowly)
Examples = Oats, Porridge, Sweet potato, lentils, Wholewheat pasta, Starchy vegetables
Pre workout snack (1-2hrs) Dried fruit, protein shake, banana, ( This is to top up the energy supply without being to heavy on the stomach)
Post workout (1-2hrs) Ensure to eat around 15g protein at least three times throughout the day and combine with complex carbohydrates to enhance muscle recovery. Great options would be:
  • Yogurt with fruit/seeds
  • 3 egg omelette
  • x4 Oatcakes + hummus
  • Sweet potato + cottage cheese
  • Chicken + roasted vegetables & quinoa. 
If your training lasts longer than 1-2.5 hours consuming 30-60g carbohydrates will help to maintain blood glucose and liver glycogen stores. Dried fruit such as raisons, dates and apricots are a great option. ( handful of raisons = 28g carbohydrates)

Let me know if this was helpful, and if you would like more training information. 

Love H x