Nutrition by Austin FIT Coach Dan

By Coach Dan

Our Saturday long-run times are beginning to exceed an hour in length.  An hour of endurance effort is sufficient to lower your body’s stored energy reserves (glucose in your blood and glycogen in your muscles cells).  It is time to begin a conversation about nutrition strategies that will aid you in having the energy available to get the most out of your training and to achieve your half or full marathon goal.

Nutrition is a complex topic and, during your marathon training, there will be a few “coach comments” on the subject.

Let’s start by addressing two questions about carbohydrate:

  • Why is carbohydrate important
  • How much carbohydrate do you need daily and when?

“An athlete who exercises in a carbohydrate depleted state experiences larger increases in stress hormones and greater disturbances of many immune function indicators.  By consuming carbohydrates during exercise, one can limit exercise induced immunosuppression. ”Gleeson M, Lancaster GI, Bishop NC. Nutritional Strategies to minimize exercise-induced .  Can J Appl Physiol 2001;26 (Suppl):s23-35

Key Functions of Carbohydrates:

  • Your best source of energy to meet your needs in training and competition:  Marathoners typically train and compete at 65% or more of VO2 max.  At these levels of intensity, your oxygen availability is limited   Carbohydrate require less oxygen to “burn” than protein or fat.  This makes it a vital source of energy during high-intensity exercise when your body cannot process enough oxygen to meet its needs.
  • “Bonk” prevention: Carbohydrates are an essential source of fuel for the brain and nervous system.  When you are not consuming enough carbohydrate, you are more likely to “hit the wall” become weak, irritable, disoriented, lethargic.  Simple tasks (like finishing the marathon) will seem difficult.
  • Aid in improving body composition: To burn the most fat possible, your body must simultaneously break down a certain amount of carbohydrate.  Consuming a diet adequate in carbohydrate essentially ensures you will metabolize more fat.
  • Preserve proteins: Consuming adequate amounts of carbohydrate spares your body from using protein (from your muscles or your diet) as a source of energy.  Using protein as a fuel is undesirable because you need adequate protein to grow, maintain and repair body tissues, as well as synthesize hormones and enzymes.

Timing Carbohydrate Intake:

  • Consuming carbohydrates before and during training or competition will improve your performance.  It will enable you exercise or compete longer and and finish stronger.
  • Carbohydrate consumption after exercise will ensure that you have the energy stores in your muscles and liver that you will need for your next training session.

How much carbohydrate will you need on any given day?  A rough estimate will depend upon how many hours of training you include in that day and how much you weigh.

Click on the attachment.  When it comes up, you may have to click on “enable editing”.  Type in your weight.   The template will provide you with an estimate of your daily carbohydrate requirements. CLICK HERE for Attachment!