The rules of fuel

Your ques­tions an­swered on how to fuel your work­outs with carbs, hy­drate prop­erly and re­cover faster with pro­tein

Runner's World (UK) - - The Fit Food Handbook -

HOW SHOULD I FUEL MY­SELF DUR­ING TRAIN­ING OR RACES?

For runs of up to one hour, you don’t need to take on carbs dur­ing the ac­tiv­ity. Con­sume suf­fi­cient car­bo­hy­drates in the two days be­fore a train­ing run or event and you should have more than enough stored in your body for shorter races, such as 5Ks or 10Ks.

‘For longer runs, like a marathon, max­imis­ing car­bo­hy­drate sup­ply be­comes im­por­tant to avoid hit­ting the wall,’ says Dr Ricardo Costa, a lec­turer at the De­part­ment of Nutri­tion and Di­etet­ics of Monash Univer­sity, Aus­tralia. ‘This gen­er­ally oc­curs at 18-20 miles, when you’ve got no more carbs in stor­age.’ So if you’re go­ing to run or race for longer, you will need to top up your carb stores with a carb prod­uct.

HOW MUCH CARBS SHOULD I CON­SUME?

The body can typ­i­cally ab­sorb 30- 60g of car­bo­hy­drate per hour, ir­re­spec­tive of gen­der or body weight. Not all run­ners can stom­ach the higher end of this scale, though, so start low and see how your body re­sponds.

WHAT KIND OF CARB SOURCE IS BEST FOR ME?

There’s no one-size-fits-all so­lu­tion. Es­sen­tially, what you want is some­thing that’s easy to take, will be light on your stom­ach and will al­low you to con­tinue run­ning while de­liv­er­ing the right amount of carbs when you need them. Bear in mind that if you don’t like the taste you won’t want to use it. Keep try­ing un­til you find the right one – there are plenty out there.

WHAT KIND OF CARB PROD­UCTS ARE THERE?

SPORTS DRINKS These are liq­uid, so carbs are quickly ab­sorbed into the blood­stream. They typ­i­cally con­tain around 30g of carbs per 500ml bot­tle. This means that in terms of vol­ume it can be tricky to meet your needs in longer runs or events with sports drinks alone, as to get the op­ti­mal 60g per hour you’d need to glug a litre per hour, which could leave your stom­ach awash. But the larger vol­ume also means sports drinks can con­tain ben­e­fi­cial elec­trolytes such as sodium (see p27 for more in­for­ma­tion on elec­trolytes).

GELS Semi-liq­uid so they don’t have to be changed from a solid dur­ing di­ges­tion. Think of a gel as a con­cen­trated ver­sion of an en­ergy drink. They typ­i­cally con­tain 20-30g of car­bo­hy­drate per gel sa­chet, though some are more con­cen­trated than this. They are also small and por­ta­ble, and so can be car­ried in the hand or on a belt dur­ing a run. An im­por­tant as­pect to con­sider is whether you want an iso­tonic or non-iso­tonic gel. Iso­tonic gels can be taken with­out wa­ter, which can be more con­ve­nient in train­ing.

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