Runners can store about 2,500kcal in the form of glycogen (i.e. carb) and that will fuel them for about 2 hours of exercise. Even the leanest athlete carries a reserve of about 50,000kcal as fat, however, so perhaps fat adaptation could be a very useful strategy for endurance events.
A balanced diet is not just about calories; the source of those calories will influence the overall quality of your diet and the true nutritional value.
Ideally we should be aiming for 50% of our calories being provided by carbohydrates, 35% by fats and 15% by protein. That really isn’t very helpful, when we can’t visualise those calories to start with but there’s a useful Public Health England graphic known as the eatwell plate …
“I’ve recently fought my way back from an extended period of injury (6 months) where I was not able to train at all, only minimal running.
Now that I’m back do a structured week of training how many potatoes do I need to eat? How much pasta or rice equates to an hour of sub-threshold running?
I’m currently doing an hour of running a day. This mostly consists of sub-threshold runs at about 70% – 80% max heartrate range. I’ll do one race or one VO2 Max session per week ( >90%) followed the next day by a recovery run at 60% – 70%. I average one non-running day per week. I also do one exersise (core strength) class per week.”
Thanks, Laurie, June 2015
The answer to your question depends upon what else you’re eating, because you’ll be getting energy (kcal) from all of your food. Bear in mind, also, that your energy needs and your energy intake will normalise across a week (or any given period), such that you may be ‘catching up’ on your rest day or slightly deficient overall on race day.
In order to answer your question fully, we would have to do a food diary, but I can make a series of assumptions based on weight, height and activity levels. Then, I would calculate the difference in energy requirements between none, little and your actual training schedule.
Mary, Russell-Price Sport & Wellness Nutrition
Do you ever crave specific foods when you’re having a bad day? Do you get snappy when you miss meals and make do with snacks, or you ‘go on a diet’? Do certain foods (or drinks) make you feel mellow?
Yes, there certainly seem to be some strong links between mood and food.
What’s the best source of energy for runners – carbs or fat?
As with so many apparently simple questions, the answer is: well, it depends…
Energy bars are convenient, portable sources of – energy, of course! Whilst it’s almost equally straightforward to carry a few nuts or seeds and some dried fruit, the handful of rolled oats won’t go down very easily unless they are bound together with some kind of syrup.
How do sports bars compare with supermarket offerings?
If you’re running in endurance events, you’re going to use a lot of fuel and so you’ll want to take on as many carbs as you can, won’t you? Most sports drinks and gels are glucose based, which is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream – just where you want it to be available as fuel for your muscles.
I’m often asked what makes a good breakfast. As with any meal, it should comprise balanced amounts of carbohydrate, fruit / vegetables, protein and fat. There are many options available to fulfil those criteria however one of the simplest, and most nutritious, is porridge.
Porridge, and oat-based muesli, contains something called oat beta-glucan which is a soluble form of fibre.
Not to be confused with ‘train high, compete low’ (which refers to altitude), training with low carbohydrate levels and competing with high levels has been referred to recently as a new strategy. The landmark studies that initiated this strategy are relatively recent and the first of these investigations is known as the ‘one legged cycling’ study….
Cakes are popular as a post-exercise snack however much of the health-related press will suggest that they should be avoided in all circumstances. I did some baking for sale after a local race recently and a club runner asked me, with a wry smile, if I was going to make a low GI cake.