5 Nutritional tips for endurance athletes

It is that time of year, where those in and around Brighton start training for the annual Brighton marathon and we at Body Happy would like to share five nutritional strategies for you which you can use over your training period which may help you improve your performance.

1. Milk – yep milk, Post run, reach for the milk. It appears the market and shelf’s in supermarkets and corner shops are full of expensive carbohydrate recovery drinks, your Lucozades, Gatorade, Powerade and energy drinks such as Monster, Red Bull and the ilk. Milk not only is cheaper, saving you money, but is also a better recovery drink. Studies report subjects to be in a positive fluid balance after consuming 150% of their sweat less in milk when compared to water and carbohydrate sports drinks, 1-hour post exercise.


2. Carbohydrate. This is the predominant fuel used for endurance sports. Many novice endurance athletes feel they can eat all the carbohydrates they want, in reality we need to make sure we take on what we need. Muscle glycogen* stores are key for performance when endurance training, we generally here the word carb load and are told to eat all the carbs, however our bodies only store so much muscle glycogen – like the petrol tank in a car. Our muscles store roughly 400g and liver roughly 100g, meaning additional carbohydrates are stored as fat. You want your carbohydrate intake matches your carbohydrate usage for that day. For example, if you do a long run, your glycogen stores will be depleted, so that day you will need to consume more carbohydrates than on a rest day. If we eat the same quantity of carbohydrates each day, thinking we are running, we are likely to put on weight as excess glycogen is stored as fat – the stores are full.

*Carbohydrates broken down into glycogen in the body


3. Fuel. During your runs over 45 minutes, you will want to take on water. You have several options for this, drinks (Lucozade, Powerade) gels (High 5, Science in Sport), jelly (babies, wine gums, jelly beans) or some people like food. Whatever you decide to use, make sure you practice taking it during your training runs. This allows you to see how your body reacts and feels – it is recommended to have a mixture of 2 : 1 ratio of glucose : fructose. Taking on fuel during the race helps preserve out glycogen stores by giving the body fuel to use. Start with looking to consume 60g per hour during exercise, increase to 90g per hour during intense exercise lasting more than 3 hours.


4. Supplement. A supplement is something we take to supplement our diet, whether making up for a deficiency (vitamin C, D, fish oils) or to help improve performance (protein powders). Two things which have been used for running performance are cherry juice and beetroot juice.

Training for an endurance event can be damaging to the muscles and cause inflammation. Cherry juice has been reported to decrease these markers of muscle damage and inflammation. This study looked at taking Cherry juice 5 days prior to a race, race day and 2 days post-race.  

Beetroot juice. The effective component of beetroot juice is the nitrate it contains. By drinking beetroot juice, you can improve your endurance, running performance and increase muscular efficiency. In studies subjects have been reported to run 5% faster and at a lower rate of perceived exertion, compared to a placebo.


5. Replacing Sweat Loss. Our sweat rate is down to our own body chemistry, surroundings, how hard you are exercising and how long you are exercising. Exercising increases the temperature of your muscles, for the body to regulate and keep your core temperature at 37-38 degrees Celsius your body sweats, this is done by water from your body being carried to the skin, as it evaporates your body loses heat. It is reported that dehydration of 2-3% impairs performance. whilst 1% can cause us to feel thirsty. If you weigh yourself before exercise and then after exercise, the weight lost is fluid, for every 1kg you have lost it is approximately 1 litre of water. To check your hydration level look at the colour of your urine. Make sure you are hydrated prior to starting a run, look to take 110-250ml 5-10 minutes prior to exercise and sip fluid throughout exercise lasting more than 45 minutes. Post exercise you should look to consume 1.2-1.5 x the amount fluid loss during exercise. For example, if you lose 1kg in a training run you need re-hydrate with 1.2-1.5 litres of water.


Body Happy wishes you luck with your training and good luck on race day. Be happy with your effort and food, and reach for your goals. When training take it easy if you feel niggles and tired, don’t just push through. Make sure the easy days are easy, these are days for your body to recover. Your training should put you in a position to get to the start line in good shape.


New to Body happy this autumn!

We’ll be introducing an 18-week running group for those aiming to run a marathon in 4.00-5.30 hours on or around Sunday 14th April 2019 (the Brighton Marathon).

The running groups will be small and friendly, and limited to 20 runners. Each runner will be given an individual and completely bespoke running plan designed for them by our experienced coach – Brigitte.

If you are interested in running the best marathon you possibly can in 2019, or have any questions, please get in touch with Mark: mark@body-happy.co.uk