Carbohydrates are essential to an endurance athlete’s diet. No low carb plans here – your body stores carbohydrate as glycogen in your muscles, which is used for fuel during exercise. In general, about 55%-65% of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates. Most carbohydrates on an everyday basis should come from whole grains, like oatmeal, brown rice, or whole wheat bread.
Fill your plate with fruits and veggies
Fruits and vegetables pack a huge nutritional punch. They contain vitamins and minerals for optimal body function, fiber for healthy digestion, and additional water to support hydration. Fruits and certain vegetables also provide carbohydrates to fuel your muscles. Try to make half your plate fruits and veggies.
Drink up (water that is)!
Hydration ensures optimal performance during training runs and races. Just 3% dehydration can cause impaired performance – and often by the time you are feeling very thirsty, you can already be dehydrated. The Institute of Medicine recommends 2.2 liters and 3 liters of fluid intake for women and men, respectively. This includes fluid from water as well as other beverages like milk and juice.
Use sports drinks and gels appropriately
Many people are confused about when to use water and when to use sports drinks. A good rule of thumb is to use plain water if you’re exercising less than an hour. If you’re planning to exercise longer than an hour, a sports drink with carbohydrate and electrolytes (or water with sports gels) are good choices.
For more nutrition information specific to your diet and race training schedule, please consider purchasing nutrition counseling or our total race package to help you succeed with whatever endurance pursuit you have in mind!