Sports Nutrition – Endurance Athletes

Who’s getting ready for the fall racing season!? Let?s remember that food fuels fitness. What you eat will impact how you perform. You want to pre-fuel and re-fuel?meaning you need to eat before and after! Here are some general guidelines to get you started.


1. Hydration: Weigh yourself before and after your workout. The difference will be the amount of water lost through sweat. For every pound lost, drink 2 cups of water. This will ensure adequate hydration. Your urine should be clear or pale yellow ? another sign that you are drinking enough water.


2. Pre-Fuel: Consume a small amount of complex carbohydrates right before a workout. A small piece of fruit may be all you need for exercise lasting an hour or less. If you are planning for a meal 2 or more hours before, try to eat a balanced meal of protein and complex carbohydrates (Toast with peanut butter and fruit) to ensure adequate energy.


Tart cherry 


3. Energy: For workouts lasting longer than an hour, you want a carbohydrate source during the workout. This could be in the form of an energy drink, energy blocks or shots, or (my peronsal favorite), tart cherry juice concentrate diluted in water (with added electrolytes if you are a heavy sweater). Tart cherry juice is a powerful antiinflammtory. It has been shown to reduce the onset of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and aid in recovery from exercise. It is also an effective treatment for arthritis, showing a more powerful effect than some prescription medications. Becaue everyone is different with the concentration and type of carbohydrates they can handle digestively, you will likely want to experiment with the dulition that works best for you, staring with 2 tbsp per 8 oz water.  Let me know if you try it!


4. Re-fuel: Be sure to eat within 30-45 minutes of finishing your workout. A post workout meal or snack should, once again, be a balance of protein and complex carbohydrates. A bowl of oatmeal with nuts and fruit, egg and veggie scramble with toast, salmon with quinoa and veggies or a salad with beans, seeds and fruit are all great options.


5. Consistency: What you eat when you aren?t exercising is just as important. Regular, balanced meals will ensure you have the energy for each and every workout. Studies done on athletes show us that the most amount of protein your body is able to effectively use per meal is 20-30 grams.  Very few people have a hard time eating enough protein, and most of us eat much more than we need.  However, what you would benefit from focusing on is protein timing. For example: you may start your day with cereal (maybe 5 grams of protein) and end the day with an 8 oz steak (close to 70 grams of protein). While doing this may lead to meeting your total protein need for the day, you aren’t able to use it most effectively.  Eating regular, balanced meals (protein, carb, fat and fruit or vegetable) will help you eat moderate amount of proteins at regular intervals to create an amino acid pool all day long for adequate recovery and muscle growth.  A 3 oz portion of poultry, fish or meat is about 20-25 grams of protein, 1 egg has 6 grams, 1/2 cup cottage cheese has 13 grams of protein, 1 cup Greek yogurt has 25 grams of protein and 1 cup beans has 16 grams of protein.  Remember, however, that other foods have protein too.  2 tbsp of peanut butter (or other nuts) has 8 grams of protein, whole grains have about 5-8 grams of protein per 1/2 cup cooked, vegetables have about 5 grams per cup, etc…  By creating a balanced meal, you will not need large amounts of animal products or protein based foods, and definitely lack the need for any supplements or powders, to get adquate protein.


Balanced meals full of nutrient dense foods will deliver vital nutrients to each cell of your body. This is key to health, fitness and vitality. Happy eating!


Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD