How to Refuel During an Event

This article is an excerpt from Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes by Monique Ryan MS, RD, LDN, CSSD. In her comprehensive guide to sports nutrition, Ryan uses her 30 years of experience coaching professional and age-group athletes to simplify this complex subject into proven, real world guidelines. Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes shows runners, cyclists, and triathletes how to address specific nutritional needs for short- and long-course racing and busts dozens of myths and misconceptions along the way.

Carbohydrate consumed during longer workouts and events can provide an additional fuel source for the brain and muscles. Both running and cycling studies have found that fuel intake during exercise improves endurance (how long you can train before you fatigue) and performance (allowing you to finish a race faster).

Below are some guidelines for refueling during specific exercise times:

Under 45 minutes: probably not needed. Can consider carbohydrate replacement if the workout is very high-intensity or there has been limited refueling on a multiple-session training day.

45–75 minutes: up to 30 g carbohydrate per hour. Carbohydrate is most beneficial when consumed during an early-morning workout before breakfast or when the workout begins several hours after the last meal.

1–2.5 hours: 30–60 g carbohydrate per hour. Practice and refine a fueling plan that fits with your hydration requirements and gut tolerances.

Over 2.5 hours: 80–90 g carbohydrate per hour. Products that provide multiple carbohydrates are required to absorb this high rate of carbohydrate. The athlete should experiment with maximum lev- els of sports drinks that fit his or her sweat losses and add additional products such as gels and blocks as needed.

See what to eat and when with Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes. Ryan demystifies optimum daily nutrition and shows simple steps to make the best decisions about what you eat and drink.