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Nutrition in endurance sports: 7 simple tips to reach your full potential

Ausdauertraining: 7 Ernährungstipps

In this blog, we explain to you what optimal nutrition looks like in endurance sports – explained very simply using 7 basic tips!

Nutrition in endurance sports explained very easily

Training and nutrition belong together. Nutrition sets the stage for sustainable, long-term performance and progression in training and competition. If you want to reach your full potential, you should not ignore the building block of (sports) nutrition.

But because the topic can be quite overwhelming, we have focused, in this blog, on 7 basics, explaining the most important facts about nutrition in endurance sports.

Set on a balanced basic nutrition in endurance sports

If you now worry that only rice with broccoli and chicken will end up on your plate, then we can reassure you:

The focus of your diet as an endurance athlete should be a diverse and – here it comes – varied food selection with unprocessed and fresh foods! So sports nutrition is anything but boring and monotonous.

But where do you start now? With these simple guidelines (according to the German Society for Nutrition) you can already achieve a lot:

  • Fruits and vegetables at every meal – preferably 5 times a day (main meal + snacks).
  • Set on whole grain products; Exception: 1-2h before intensive exercise, in this case opt for simple & low fiber carbohydrates.
  • Healthy fats like nuts, avocado and seeds are good for you
  • Ideally use high-quality oils (olive oil, linseed oil, walnut oil)
  • High-quality animal products such as yogurt, cheese, occasionally fish and meat (alternative legumes, for example).
  • 3-4 servings of protein (20-30g each) throughout the day; this means, each meal should contain a good source of protein.
  • Reduce meat, salt and sugar consumption
  • Drink enough (water)

These foods provide you with important nutrients, vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal performance and regeneration.

Sure, we haven’t reinvented the wheel with these tips! Nevertheless, it is important to mention this, because a healthy and balanced diet is the basic building block for all other factors in endurance sports.

Your performance, your regeneration, your training, your sleep – all this can be controlled in your favor with an appropriate basic nutrition.

Stay fueled: Understand energy consumption as an endurance athlete

Before you get started with your workout, it’s important to understand that endurance sports like running, cycling or swimming involve an increased energy expenditure.

Make sense, right? Nevertheless, many athletes do not eat enough. This can not only affect performance, but can also become really dangerous.

Keyword RED-S: If the energy intake does not cover the total energy consumption over a longer period of time, then the relative energy deficit in sports can occur. Learn more here.

Depending on the intensity and duration of the workout, your body needs more energy to maintain performance. It is important to cover this increased energy demand with an appropriate diet and the right food during training.

Did you know that depending on the volume and intensity of training, the energy requirement can be 2-3 times higher for athletes?

For example, if we assume a daily energy requirement of 2000 kcal (basal metabolic rate + daily activity), then as an endurance athlete you easily burn 3,000-4,000 kcal per day.


Daily requirement 3000kcal:
2000kcal + energy expenditure during exercise: 1000kcal (approx. 1.5h of relaxed training)

Daily requirement 4000kcal:
2000kcal + energy expenditure during exercise: 2000kcal (approx. 3h easy training)

Macronutrients for the win!


Carbohydrates are the most important source of energy for you as an endurance athlete, because carbohydrates are quickly converted into glucose to supply the muscles with energy.

In short, carbohydrates provide you with energy faster than fat during intense exercise. Although fat can be stored in the body almost indefinitely, its use is not as efficient and rapid as via carbohydrates.

The carbohydrate stores in the muscles and liver, on the other hand, are limited, so it is crucial that you keep supplying sufficient energy in the form of carbohydrates.

Make sure you eat enough carbohydrates before, during and after your workout to replenish your energy stores and to avoid early fatigue during exercise.

The recommendation for adequate carbohydrate intake is 5-8 g/kg body weight.

The easiest way to get enough carbohydrates is to eat specific sports food – as this is much better tolerated than “normal” solid food. For instance, our FAST CARB, the compact GEL 40 or the super tasty PORRIDGE BARs are ideal for it.

All our MoN Sports products are made from purely natural ingredients: This makes them exceptionally well tolerated, which is also what many top athletes particularly appreciate.

But proteins are just as important for your full performance. They play a crucial role in your muscle recovery and muscle building.

However, proteins are not used as a primary source of energy, but function primarily as a component of various cell organelles, muscle structures, and other body tissues.

Therefore, for example, you will find carbohydrates and proteins in our RECOVERY SHAKE. Both nutrients are super important for you in the “open window” after your workout.

So after intense endurance training, you should consume enough protein to repair muscles and to support the growth of new muscle mass. Good sources of protein include lean meats, fish, legumes, dairy products and plant-based alternatives such as tofu or tempeh.

Your protein intake should be evenly distributed throughout the day, i.e. 3-4 portions with 20-30g protein each. Overall, the recommendation here for endurance athletes is around 1.5 g/kg body weight.

A quick word about fats: Yes, a well-trained fat metabolism is important in endurance sports, but you don’t have to consume more fat.

As with everyone else, your intake as an endurance athlete should not exceed 30% of your total energy.

Timing is (almost) everything: Consider the timing of meals

The timing of your pre- and post-workout meals can affect your performance.

The last main meal should be rich in easily digestible, low-fat carbohydrates as well as moderate in protein and should be eaten about 2-3 hours before the workout. This way you make sure you have enough energy and don’t get stomach problems.

Whole grain products, for example, should not be missing from a balanced diet, as described above, but due to their high fiber content, they can be hard on the stomach immediately before a workout.

If you get hungry again shortly before your workout, we recommend our top-tolerant PORRIDGE BAR or also a carbohydrate drink like SLOW CARB which slowly transfers carbohydrates into your body.

Immediately after the workout you should then, as mentioned, consume a combination of carbohydrates and proteins (RECOVERY SHAKE) to replenish your stores and to promote muscle recovery. You should do this ideally 15 to 30 minutes after your workout, because during this time, your body is particularly receptive to nutrients, as well as susceptible to infections if you don’t replenish properly.

In general, it is recommended to eat three meals throughout the day and – depending on energy needs – to include one to three snacks.

Do not forget to drink!

It feels like we all drink too little, doesn’t it? In this context, fluid intake is of great importance, especially in endurance sports. After all, you lose fluids through sweating.

Water performs a variety of vital tasks in our bodies: It is involved in the transport of nutrients, the regulation of the body’s core temperature and the supply of oxygen to the muscles.

According to the DGE, you should ideally drink 1.5 to 2.0 liters of water – but as an athlete, your needs are significantly higher. For every hour of exercise, you should add another 0.4 to 0.8 liters.

Important: Distribute fluid intake regularly throughout the day. When sweat and salt losses are high, make sure you drink well-mineralized water or salt your food a little more to compensate for Electrolyte losses.

Another advantage of special sports food like the mentioned FAST CARB or SLOW CARB: Here you take in water AND carbohydrates at the same time. So the engine can keep running until the end 😉

Last but not least: Nothing new on race day!

It’s super tempting to treat yourself to another brand new race shoe at a trade show, or to sample your way through regional delicacies in a foreign city.

Feel free to save it for the day after your race!

Because before competitions, it is recommended to stick to proven (nutrition) routines to avoid possible gastrointestinal problems.

It’s best to try out your sports nutrition while you’re still training to find out which ones give you the best energy and are optimally tolerated at the same time. Plan your last main meal about 2-3 hours before the race to allow adequate digestion time.

As for the new race shoe, you ought to try it out beforehand, just like your nutrition. Otherwise, you will not only have a nasty surprise in the gastrointestinal tract, but also on your feet.

And now really our final advice:

Pay attention to the individual needs of your body

Every body, every person, every athlete is different. Therefore, it is important to listen to the individual needs of your own body.

Experiment with different nutritional approaches and observe how different foods affect your performance and well-being. Listen to your body’s signals and adjust your diet accordingly.

Hopefully, these tips have given you a good foundation to optimize your endurance nutrition.

Remember that a healthy diet not only benefits your performance, but also contributes to your overall well-being! So: Let’s go!

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