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ENDURANCE ATHLETE NUTRITION

Nutrition plays a key role in performance and recovery from beginner athlete to experienced. Learn more about gaining your competitive advantage with a specific balance of nutrients and hydration.

Kari Collett, RDN, LDN, CLT
KA to Zinc Nutrition, LLC

Benefits of Sports Nutrition

  • Enables harder and longer training
  • Delays onset of fatigue
  • Enhances performance
  • Promotes optimal recovery
  • Improves body composition and strength
  • Enhances concentration
  • Improves immune function
  • Reduces risk of injury
  • Reduces cramping and other side effects of training

Primary Goals of Sports Nutrition

  • Maintain hydration
  • Fuel to optimize performance
  • Promote rapid recovery

General Endurance Training Nutrition

  • Carbohydrate: found in grains, fruits, legumes, and vegetables; dairy can also be a source
    • Provide energy; primary fuel source for most activities
    • Primary food source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber
    • Carbohydrate quality matters
    • Plan carbs first when meal planning
    • Intake during training is usually around 50-70% of kcal
    • Carb calories = 4 kcal/g
  • Protein: found in meats primarily but it is also found in ALL other foods except fruits
    • Primary source of amino acids for tissue repair, enzyme function, and hundreds of other messengers
    • Provides some energy
    • Plan protein second when meal planning
    • Recommended intake is around .8 g/kg; most people get more than necessary
  • Fat: found in plant sources such as nuts, avocado, olives, and coconut as well as animal sources such as meats, eggs, and dairy
    • Provides energy; slower release
    • Important for brain, hormone, and joint function
    • Recommended intake is right around 10-20% of kcal of which <10% of kcals should come from saturated fat
    • Fat sources matter
      • Plant vs animal
      • Poly- and monounsaturated fat vs saturated
    • Fat calories = 9 kcal/g

Example 2400 kcal/day for a 110 lb. athlete

  • CHO: 2400 x .7 = 1680 / 4 = 420 g CHO
  • PRO: 110 / 2.2 = 50 kg x .8 = 40 g PRO/day = 160 kcal
  • FAT: 2400 – 1840 = 560 kcal / 9 = 62 g FAT; 560 / 2400 = 23%

The Week Before the Event: Carb Loading

Approach Type Carbohydrate Regimen Example: 110 lb athlete
TAPER: light training 3-5 days prior to event 80% of kcal 2400 x .8 = 1920 / 4 = 480 g
REST: no training 1-2 days prior to event 90% of kcal 2400 x .9 = 2160 / 4 = 540 g

Carbohydrates that are more quickly absorbed support better carb loading: white rice, white pasta, white bread?, potato, and banana. Grains and fruits will be your primary sources as they are naturally fat free; high fiber vegetables can be problematic during this time as such high volumes are needed. As carb percentage rises, protein and fat decrease.

Pre-Event

  • Meal 4 hours before event consists of:
    • .5 – 2 g/lb CHO
    • .1 – .2 g/lb PRO
    • Minimal FAT
  • 15 – 30 minutes prior to event: 30 – 60 g CHO
    • From liquid or fruit
    • Combined glucose and fructose
  • Hydration: recommended 16-24 oz fluid before an event

Event Fueling

  • Short events need little if any fuel; longer events need more:
    • 1 – 2.5 hours: 30 – 60 g CHO/hour
    • >2.5 hours: 80 – 90 g CHO/hour
  • Easy event foods:
    • 10 twists of hard, plain, salted pretzels: 60 g CHO
    • 30 oz sport drink: varies but around 50 g CHO
    • Sports gels: vary with contents
  • Consume gradually throughout the race
  • Fuel storage in the body
    • Muscle glycogen storage gets used up with every training session or competition
    • Small reserve of glycogen in the liver is used and depleted next
    • When fuel stores are gone, body is forced to slow down or stop known as BONKING or HITTING THE WALL
  • Event hydration: alternate between water and sports solutions

Post-Event

  • Eat within 30 minutes of event
    • For moderate training and events, repeat intake after 2 hours
    • For intense training and events, repeat every hour for 3 hours
  • Reload carbohydrate fuel stores with carbohydrate foods; this is what fuels the next event
    • Half gram/lb simple carbohydrates
    • Simple carbs are faster at restoring glycogen
    • Especially important if you are exercising again within 24 hours
    • Example: 110 lb athlete needs 55 g CHO
      • 1 medium apple and 1 granola bar = ~45 g CHO
      • 1 medium banana and 1 blueberry muffin = ~50 g CHO
    • Repair and rebuild muscle tissue with protein foods
      • 10 – 20 grams in addition to carbohydrate foods
      • Can go as high as carbohydrate recommendation
    • Rehydrate: 16 ounces per pound lost during exercise/event

Hydration

  • Calculate your sweat rate
    • Weight before exercise – weight after exercise then convert to fluid oz; add the loss to any fluids consumed in event then divide by number of hours
    • Example: 110 lb – 108 lb = 2 lbs converted to 32 oz; if 24 oz fluid is consumed in event 24 + 32 = 56 divide by 1.5 hours = 37 oz/hour
  • Sweat rates can change with temperature and humidity
  • Hydration zone: stay within 2% of body weight to prevent dehydration or over hydration
    • Example: 2% of 110 = 2.2
      • 110 – 2.2 = 107.8
      • 110 + 2.2 = 112.2
  • Thirst is the beginning stage of dehydration; do not wait until you are thirsty to hydrate during an event

Electrolytes

  • Sodium is key
  • Other minerals are beneficial: potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, etc.
  • Helps prevent dehydration
  • Protects against overhydration

Caffeine

  • Readily absorbed
  • Peaks at about 60 minutes
  • 50-100 mg is best
  • Why:
    • Increases fat burning thus sparing glycogen stores
    • Increases excitability of muscles
  • Caution:
    • GI distress
    • Headaches
    • Elevated blood pressure
  • Know event regulations
  • Most effective if body has been caffeine deprived

For more information and to personalize your performance nutrition, contact Kari Collett, RDN, LDN, CLT at A to Zinc Nutrition, LLC. www.AtoZincNutrition.com or 320.310.7211.

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