Fuelling Your Endurance Journey

Fuelling Your Endurance Journey


If you’re into sports or regular exercise that lasts more than 30 minutes, you’re already on the path of endurance training. It doesn’t matter if you’re a weekend warrior, a dedicated athlete, or someone in between – endurance matters. Whether running a marathon, cycling for hours, or swimming your heart out in a triathlon, your body demands the right fuel.

Endurance training isn’t just about sweating it out; it’s a game of two types – muscular and cardiorespiratory endurance. Muscular endurance keeps your muscles pumping without quitting. In contrast, cardiorespiratory endurance ensures your heart and lungs can deliver the oxygen and blood your muscles need for the long haul.

Here’s the kicker: Your body needs energy to sustain endurance activities. Think of it as your body’s gas tank; you need the right “fuel” to keep going. This article will dive deep into the nutritional “fuel” you need for your endurance journey.

Energy Balance: Fuelling the Endurance Machine

Before discussing what to eat, let’s figure out how much you need to eat. Imagine Catherine, a dedicated triathlete. She’s running, swimming, and cycling around 50-60 miles weekly. We start with her Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) to find out how much she should eat. This is the energy she’d burn at rest.

For Catherine, her BMR is 1400 calories (her weight of 140 pounds multiplied by a BMR multiplier of 10). But that’s not all – we must factor in her activity level. Since Catherine’s training hard 6-7 days a week, we multiply her BMR by 1.725 to find her Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). Catherine needs around 2415 calories per day to keep her engine running.

Remember, this is just the starting point. If Catherine has days with more intense training, she’ll need more calories. It’s all about matching energy in vs. energy out. On more challenging training days, she might go as high as 2700 calories to keep her tank full.

BMR Calculator

Carbs: Your Endurance Rocket Fuel

Now, let’s talk about the most essential fuel source for endurance athletes: carbohydrates. Carbs are your rocket fuel, providing quick energy for those long workouts. For Catherine, aiming for 50-65% of her daily calories from carbs is vital.

But how many grams is that? It depends on your activity level:

5-7g/kg if you train 1 hour a day
8-10g/kg if you train 2-4 hours a day
10-12g/kg if you drill 4-6 hours a day or more
For Catherine, that means around 300g of carbs daily to keep her energy high. And remember, it’s not just about eating carbs; it’s about balancing your diet.

Protein: Your Endurance Repair Crew

Protein isn’t just for bodybuilders; it’s essential for endurance athletes, too. Research suggests that a good target is 1.2-1.4g of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. It helps with recovery and muscle maintenance, especially for those long hours of training.

Protein isn’t just for after exercise; it’s also important before and during. So, take advantage of the chicken or plant-based protein sources before your workout. It helps maintain energy levels and supports muscle repair.

Fats: The Backup Generator

While carbs and protein are your primary sources of energy and recovery, fats play a supporting role. You don’t need as much fat in your diet, around 20-30% of your daily calories. Fats provide essential fatty acids and help with overall caloric intake.
However, avoid extreme fat-loading phases. They can lead to sluggishness and hinder your performance. Balance is the key.

Micronutrients: The Little Giants

Micronutrients like B vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, iron, calcium, sodium, and potassium are like the little giants behind the scenes. They help with energy production, muscle function, and overall health. Aim to include them in your diet through whole foods or supplements.

Hydration: Your Endurance’s Best Friend

Remember water! Proper hydration is essential for regulating your body temperature and blood plasma volume. Even a tiny drop in hydration can impact your performance. So, keep sipping water throughout the day, and weigh in before and after exercise to gauge your fluid loss.

Nutrient Timing: When to Refuel

When you eat matters, too. Before your workout, focus on carbs to top off your glycogen stores. During exercise, consider easily digestible carbs. After training, a mix of carbs and protein helps with recovery.
Supplements can fill gaps in your diet, but they’re not a magic bullet. If you use them, stick to high-quality, safe options. Some supplements, like BCAAs or fast-acting proteins, can enhance performance during exercise.

In Conclusion:

Endurance training is a journey, and proper nutrition is your roadmap. Fuel your body with the right mix of carbs, protein, fats, and micronutrients. Stay hydrated, and time your nutrition wisely. And remember, supplements can be your allies, but don’t rely solely on them. You’ll go the distance in your endurance journey with the proper nutrition. So, lace up those shoes, hop on that bike, and dive into your adventure, well fuelled and ready for success.