What to Eat on a Long Run - I Love Running Magazine


What to Eat on a Long Run

by / Tuesday, 28 July 2015 / Published in Nutrition
what to eat on a long run

what to eat on a long runDuring a run, the majority of energy is being provided by glycogen stored within the muscles. When a run extends beyond 60 minutes, however, these stores can become depleted. When that happens, the body turns to other sources, including blood sugar. Because of this, raising blood sugar levels is one way to ensure the body has sufficient resources to keep moving. Without the proper resources, energy levels crash, and you set yourself on the path to experiencing the infamous bonk.

What to Eat on a Long Run

The best way to raise blood sugar levels is to eat something with plenty of simple carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are broken down easily by the body, so they’re a good source of readily available energy. The best foods will be energy-packed and easy to digest.

Factors Affecting Carbohydrate Need

How much you should eat will depend on a number of factors. Your body mass, for instance, is going to affect how much glucose your muscles require to keep working. The more you weigh, the more fuel you should be consuming.

Your level of effort also plays a role in determining your energy needs. A higher intensity workout uses up more fuel than a more moderate one. Higher effort levels also mean more of the body’s resources are redirected to meet increased demands. This will affect the rate of carbohydrate absorption and should be taken into account.

How Much Should You Eat and When?

If you’re planning to run for more than 60 minutes, you should start eating about 30 minutes into the run. Don’t wait until you start feeling low on energy to eat. By that time, it’s too late. Once energy levels have been depleted, it’s hard to recover, so start fueling early on.

On average, you’ll need to eat 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour to maintain blood glucose levels. In terms of calories, you want to consume 300 calories for every hour of running. This number will depend on your size and level of effort, however, so experiment within this range to find what works best for you.

Do not try and consume your whole calorie intake in one go, this will be too difficult to digest. Make sure to eat as often as you can keeping in mind the number of calories you are consuming. Overeating is nearly just and dangerous as under eating.

Best Foods to Eat During a Run

Whatever food you choose, it should contain lots of carbohydrates and should be low in fibre. Too much fibre can lead to stomach distress, so try to avoid fibrous snacks such as raisins or sweet potatoes.

Easily digestible, portable fuel sources are going to be your best bet. When it comes to liquids, sports drinks specially designed to provide carbohydrates and replace lost electrolytes are a good choice. Another good option is coconut water, which is packed with electrolytes and can be more digestible and palatable than a sports drink.

If you’re looking for something more solid, energy gels and sports jelly beans are small and fairly easy to digest. They’re also engineered to pack a carbohydrate punch. To get the most out of gels, partner them with some water. Water will dilute the carbs and enhance their absorption. Other options include bananas, gummy bears, and energy bars.

Whatever you choose, make sure your body can tolerate it well and that it provides the energy you need. If you keep your body fueled well into your run, you should be able to reach the finish line without hitting any walls along the way.

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