Sports nutrition: Eating during exercise

Exercise and sporting events, such as training runs and races lasting an hour or longer, may require mid-activity refueling.

Do you start out strong on your long run of the week or race event and then struggle to reach the finish line? Do stomach upsets or muscle cramps slow you down half way through the race? Exercise and sporting events, such as training runs and races lasting an hour or longer, may require mid-activity refueling. Taking in the proper mix of carbs, fluids and sodium, at the right time, during prolonged, moderate to high intensity exercise, is a short-term strategy to support your best performance. Fueling during exercise helps to maintain focus, prevent fatigue and reduce risk of injury so that you can achieve your goal!

Marc, Lauren and Anne, will be constantly using energy during their training and respective Bayshore race distances. For training sessions less than 60 minutes long, and for Anne during the 10K event, fluid intake for hydration is the main goal for the Three Amigos. Weâ??ll cover more on hydration goals and strategies as the Race to Bayshore training program progresses.

However, Marc and Lauren may benefit from eating or drinking easy to digest carbs during training runs of 60 minutes or more and throughout the race to help maintain their energy levels to the finish line.

The right food and fluids during exercise:

  • Taste good and are easy to consume on the run

  • Provide fuel to supplement muscle energy stores

  • Maintain blood sugar

  • Prevent dehydration

  • Are well tolerated - avoiding stomach upsets and/or muscle cramps

Less is more, when it comes to fueling during exercise. Fat and fiber slow digestion, so itâ??s best to avoid foods with notable amounts of either during exercise. And there is a limit to the rate at which carb consumed during exercise can be absorbed and converted to energy. About 30 â?? 60 grams of carb per hour is the general recommendation for Marc and Lauren to go the distance at their race pace. Beginning carb early and eating/drinking small amounts every 15 minutes may also help improve tolerance as well as performance. A concentration of 6-8 % carb (most sports drinks) is typically well tolerated.

Some studies have looked at carb â??blendsâ?? to improve tolerance; speed absorption and energy delivery. Glucose and fructose (fruit sugar) are absorbed by different paths in the gut. Maltodextrin, an easy to digest, water soluble starch, also helps increase the carb content without increasing the concentration of the solution, allowing for tolerance with a higher energy intake (up to 90 grams carb per hour). A small amount of sodium helps too as it stimulates both water and carb absorption to maintain hydration and energy.

The Three Amigos should test their food and/or fluid choices during training, so that there are no surprises on the day. Try new products and foods during training sessions to know what type, amount and timing works for you before you get to the event.

While 20 â?? 30 ounces of a cool (temp) sports drink providing 6-8% carb with electrolytes may be the best option for meeting carb and fluid requirements, Along with extra fluids, Marc and Lauren can try the following 50 gram, easy to digest, carb choices to fuel during exercise and keep themselves

on track to achieve their training and performance goals.

  • 16 ounces regular soft drink â?? 11 % carb - may need to dilute for tolerance

  • 16 ounces 100% fruit juice â?? 8 â?? 12% carb â?? may need to dilute for tolerance

  • 1 ½ - 2 sports gels

  • 3 squeezable fruit pouches

  • 1 ½ ounces jelly beans

Other 50 gram carb options include:

  • 2 -3 small bananas

  • Jam or honey sandwich â?? 2 slices bread + 4 teaspoons jam or honey

  • 1 ½ - 2 cereal bars â?? bite-sized pieces, avoid high fat/high fiber

  • 1 â?? 1 ½ sports bars â?? bite-sized pieces, avoid higher fat

The type of event, duration, climate, individual training status, pre-event nutrition status, and tolerance will determine the best fuel source for you. Consider working with a registered dietitian who specializes in sports nutrition for a meal plan that is personalized to your body, your sport, your stage of training, and your goals. Contact Miranda Monroe via for a consultation to put the science of sports nutrition on your plate with a personalized plan and practical meal planning strategies to help you achieve your performance goals.

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