How to Fuel: Before Activity
Regardless of your experience, if you’re training for an endurance event, chances are you have a plan of some sort to help you physically prepare for and complete the event. The physical training is just one aspect of preparing for an endurance event. Another important aspect to consider is your fuel training, which is just as important as the physical training. We know that determining how much fuel to take and when to take it can be tough to figure out, after all it’s not one size fits all. We spoke to Krista DuChene and Megan Kuikman, 2 registered dietitians and elite runners to help guide your fuelling for endurance sports.
Before we dive in, we asked Krista, “How did you come up with your marathon fuelling plan? Has it changed over the years?”
KD: “I've followed the guidelines mentioned below. It hasn't changed over the years. I've been consistent with practicing in workouts in order to succeed in races. Before I was an elite, I would carry the gels in pockets, and in my sports top, but now I am able to tape my gels to my bottles. I grab my bottle and drink, then run 2.5 km and take the gel (that I stuffed in my sports top). We get our bottles at 5/10/15/20/25/30/35/40 km marks, so I have a steady supply of carbohydrates from the first to the last station, rotating gel/ fluid, gel/fluid”.
Fuelling is important before, during and after activity. We’ll start with how Krista and Megan suggest fuelling before you engage in endurance activity: hello, carb loading!
Carb Loading: 36-48 hrs prior to an activity or event
- Carb loading is necessary when engaging in an activity over 90 minutes in duration
- Effective carb loading involves a decrease in other macronutrients (fat and protein)
- To carb load effectively, consume 8-12g/kg each day before the endurance activity.
Example: a 60 kg (132 lb) person would consume 480-720g of carbohydrates per day in the 2 days leading up to their event, 60kg x 8 = 480 grams, 60kg x 12 = 720 grams.
- Practice ahead, you can carb load before longer training sessions to get your strategy race-ready
- Divide the carbohydrates into meals and snacks throughout the day
- Remember: carb loading doesn’t mean eating more food, it means carbohydrates make up a greater percentage of your intake that usual
Sample Carb Loading Meal Plan:
Breakfast: bagel, potato, egg, fruit, yogurt, juice
Lunch: rice, potato, fruit, cooked vegetable, fish, juice
Dinner: rice, bread, pasta, cooked vegetable, chicken, juice
Between meals: sport drink with carbohydrates, try mixing 2 Endurance Tap gels with 500ml water.
Before Activity: Race Day
Purpose: to maintain blood sugar until time of exercise
- Aim for a small meal or snack 1-3 hrs before exercise
- High carb, moderate fibre, low sugar, low fat, with fluids (aids digestion), and familiar e.g. bagel with honey or toast with jam (something you know you tolerate well)
- This is not the “fuel” for the coming activity as it takes the body 24-48 hrs to store the carbohydrate that is converted to glycogen for muscle fuel.
- Early morning activity requires just enough carbohydrate to raise blood sugars and give you energy before exercise.
Pro-Tip: “I often have my bagel with honey 2-3 hrs before race start, and an ET gel 15-20 min before race start”-Krista DuChene