Here is what nutritionists recommend for athletes who train and race over long distances
It makes no difference if you’re a half-marathon runner, a triathlete, or a long-distance swimmer. If you’re an endurance athlete, you’re used to endurance training for extended periods.
You also understand that because you put in considerably more miles than the average gym-goer, you require a lot of sports nutrition for endurance to get through your high-intensity exercise and recover properly.
Even the most seasoned athlete might become confused about what, when and how much to eat and drink for peak performance. Not to worry, though. Here is what nutritionists recommend for most endurance athletes.
Carbohydrate intake for endurance exercise
Carbohydrates are starches and sugars that provide energy to your body in the same way gasoline fuels a racing car. Each gram of carbohydrate you consume provides four calories of energy. The human body stores carbohydrates as glycogen in both your muscles and liver. These glycogen stores keep blood glucose stable and muscles functioning properly.
Runners who balance their meal plate with 45-65% carbohydrate while meeting daily energy demands should expect to store roughly 2 grams (8 calories) of glycogen per pound of muscle tissue and another 100-125 grams (400-500 calories) of liver glycogen stores.
This quantity of glycogen provides the energy for ultra-endurance athletes required to run for 2 hours at a moderate level, making carbohydrate infusion vital for endurance events to avoid depletion and the resulting dizziness (“bonking”) and significant muscle weariness (“the wall”).
Protein intake for endurance training sessions
Proteins are big, complex molecules that account for 20% of your body weight in muscle, cartilage, bone, skin, cartilage, and other tissues and bodily fluids. Protein is broken down during digestion into at least 100 separate chemical building blocks known as essential amino acids, which create a small pool within your liver and are utilized to make muscle, skin, hair, nails, eyes, hormones, enzymes, antibodies and nerve chemicals.
Adequate protein intake during prolonged exercise can ensure optimal performance by preserving muscle glycogen stores and boosting fluid absorption.
Fats for endurance athletes
Fats can also offer energy for elite endurance athletes, especially for prolonged low-intensity exercise. As a result, body fat stores are critical for supporting elite athletes’ training sessions emphasizing endurance rather than speed.
Monounsaturated fatty acids are the healthiest fats because they help improve the body’s HDL or “good” cholesterol, lowering the risk of heart attack or stroke. Increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake reduces inflammation and improves brain and nervous system function.
Electrolyte replacement becomes critical in athletic performance for bouts lasting more than an hour, especially during training and racing in hot and humid settings. Sodium (usually bound to chloride), potassium, magnesium, and calcium are the primary electrolytes.
These electrolytes are essential for metabolic processes and are required for appropriate cell function, including muscle function. Nausea, vomiting, muscular weakness, cramps, twitching, general weariness, hard breathing, “pins and needles,” and disorientation are signs of electrolyte imbalance.
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