One of the top mistakes I see endurance athletes make is trying products or a fueling regimen for the FIRST TIME during a race. This is a horrible idea, as this can lead to GI distress, underfueling and bonking. Instead of waiting until race day, start thinking now about your race-day nutrition. When planning fueling, address each of the following nutrients.
If you want a more personalized plan, find a sports dietitian who can create a race nutrition plan for you, or email me to help you out at RDKate@RDKate.com.
Competing less than 3-4 hours = 30-60gm carbohydrate/hour of competing
Competing over 4 hours = 60-90gm carbohydrate/hour of competing --> carbohydrates need to contain varied sources of sugar to decrease the chance of GI distress
Common carbohydrate amounts in race fuel:
8 oz sports drinks: 15gm
1 gel pack: 24-28gm
3 shot blocks: 24gm
1 medium banana: 30gm
Fluid needs vary in athletes due to individual sweat rates, clothing and temperature. Very generally, the recommendation is 8-12 oz of fluid every 15-20 minutes. Weighing before and after a 60 minute training where no solid foods were ingested can give an athlete an idea if fluid intake during the training session was adequate. Weight should drop no more than 1.5% to assure adequate hydration.
Like fluid, electrolyte needs in athletes also vary. While sweat electrolyte testing exists, it's not readily available. The research is also not clear on what percentage of electrolyte loss needs to be replaced during competition or training. Athletes should start with incorporating sports products that have electrolytes in order to meet their carbohydrate needs (sports drinks, gels, blocks, etc.). Then, any symptoms of poor electrolyte intake should be address with an increase in electrolytes. Several electrolyte capsule or drink mix-in tabs exist for this purpose. Symptoms of electrolyte imbalance might include muscle cramping or spasms, headaches, dizziness, nausea and bloating/puffiness of the face and hands. The biggest concern with poor electrolyte intake is a slower-pace athlete who consumes excessive amounts of water but no sports drink (and therefore, no electrolytes). This can lead to a condition called hyponatremia. Again, incorporate electrolytes into your fueling pattern to decrease your risk of this condition.
Your Nutrition Coach,