“What should be the optimal nutrition for runners?” This is a very common question. However, it cannot simply be answered in such general terms.
The term “running” can be defined very broadly. Whether it’s an 800m, casual run, or ultra-marathon, anything can be interpreted as “running.” But it influences the diet significantly, whether you want to complete 42km or 10. Therefore, we want to limit the term running here a bit.
Probably the most frequented races are 5 and 10 km races and marathons. This report is mainly about the right nutrition for 5km and 10km runs. The right preparation and nutrition in the marathon we dedicate ourselves HERE .
During a run, the body should primarily use carbohydrates as an energy source. These provide you with the energy you need to get to the end of a training session or competition. Depending on the length of your training session or competition, more or less carbohydrates are needed.
However, not only the amount of carbohydrates, but also the type plays an important role. It is especially important that no gastrointestinal problems occur during the run. This applies to runs of any type and length. This problem can be significantly influenced by the right diet.
In principle, natural products are to be preferred for health reasons, which is why our sports nutrition also contains no sweeteners and artificial flavors.
Also, a tip to avoid gastrointestinal problems is to avoid high amounts of fats, proteins as well as fiber before exercise.
Overall, it is therefore a matter of supplying sufficient but tolerable energy. What is best eaten now depends on the intensity and duration of the training session.
The right catering for relaxed training sessions
What many know as “jogging” is called a casual endurance run by more ambitious runners. The goal of endurance running should be to increase overall endurance performance.
If you jog loosely through the area, you train the anaerobic range and thus lay the absolute foundation for any endurance exercise. Endurance runs should therefore not be underestimated in the preparation phase.
It is important to eat well before running. So it is not very helpful to eat a salad with legumes just before tying your shoes. Voluminous salads, on the other hand, should also be avoided.
Before a relaxed endurance run, the glycogen stores also do not need to be filled to the limit. That doesn’t mean you should start your run hungry. This just means that you don’t have to feed a particularly high-carb meal an extra 3 hours before the start of a 40-minute run, for example.
For example, if you ate lunch 4 or 5 hours before (assuming your lunch contained a certain amount of carbohydrates) your body can draw on those carbohydrates. As I said, this is for casual runs.
If you are running for less than an hour, you don’t have to worry about energy intake during the run. On the other hand, those who are on the road for significantly longer periods of time should supplement energy to avoid completely depleting their glycogen stores.
This would have a bad effect on regeneration, among other things, by increasing the production of cortisol. With more intensive runs, the training quality then usually also suffers, with relaxed, longer runs, the fat metabolism is not inhibited by an adapted carbohydrate intake!
Recommended amounts for casual runs are between 30 and 60g of carbohydrates per hour.
For this purpose, it is helpful to resort to sports nutrition products such as drink powders, bars or gels. Other relatively easily digestible carbohydrates provide white bread, toast or even a banana. Especially during running, however, it is rather difficult to supply solid food.
For this reason, it is easier to resort to carbohydrate drinks.
Even though the absorption of energy is important during long, easy endurance runs, it is not important that the absorbed energy is available immediately. Whether energy is available immediately or carbohydrates are released slowly into the blood depends on the type of carbohydrate. (You can read more HERE read).
For relaxed endurance runs it is suitable to supply slowly available carbohydrates – especially for the Basic endurance training . The easiest way to do this is with products like our SLOW CARB, which was developed precisely for this purpose and is used by top athletes in everyday training.
The in the SLOW CARB contained carbohydrates are slowly released into the blood and cause the blood sugar level to rise slowly due to the isomaltulose contained. These properties favor fat metabolism and are therefore perfect for your endurance runs.
So for your casual run you could use for example 30-35g SLOW CARB in 500ml of water and consume one serving per hour of training. This way you would reach the recommended intake of 30-60g of carbohydrates.
Due to its special composition, ideally no more than 2 or 3 servings of SLOW CARB should be taken during a workout.
Nutrition for more intense training
If you participate in a 5k or 10k run, you won’t just be doing casual runs in training. In order to bring the necessary speed for 5- or 10km runs, you should usually train intensively, e.g. in the threshold or Vo2max range.
If a hard workout such as intervals is on the training schedule, the diet must be adjusted accordingly.
In contrast to the relaxed runs, you should start your training with as full glycogen stores as possible. Optimally, you eat carbohydrate about 3h before the start of training.
If the training takes place in the morning, this could be a portion of porridge with banana (cooked with water or oat milk), an omelet, white bread with honey or toast.
It is important that you try different meals and find out which meal you tolerate best. This way you avoid nasty surprises during training or competition.
Now it is important that the supplied energy is quickly available and well tolerated. The easiest way is to use gels or carbohydrate drinks, which provide quick energy.
Our FAST CARB offers quickly available energy through the combination of different carbohydrates and is well tolerated due to the natural ingredients. Per hour of training you could take a serving of 40g FAST CARB dissolve in 500ml of water and consume.
From the daily training routine, it’s off to the starting line at some point. It’s getting serious!
Since competitions are usually held in the morning, we will discuss breakfast here as an exemplary diet before a 5k run or in preparation for a 10k run.
The most important thing first. Yes – you should definitely get up extra early “just” to eat something. On the start line, your glycogen stores should be full!
Thomas DT et al. have studied the optimal amount of carbohydrates to consume before a competition. These data say that 1-4 hours before the start, 1- 4g of carbohydrates per kg of body weight should be supplied. This is a somewhat confusing statement.
Let’s take a 70kg runner as an example. According to this data, that would mean he could either eat 280g of carbs 1 hour before the start or 70g of carbs 4 hours before.
Of course, it’s not like that. It would be much more logical if he took 70g of carbohydrates 1 hour before the start and 280g four hours before. Simply put, the greater the time interval to the start, the higher the carbohydrate intake.
As mentioned at the beginning, it is not only the quantity that needs to be considered. Carbohydrates supplied before physical exertion must be easily digestible.
To review: High amounts of dietary fiber as well as fats and proteins should be avoided. The consumption of lactose before competitions also did not prove to be optimal.
Meals like these, are fed with the goal of filling glycogen stores while being easily digestible. While they are fine before a competition or workout, they should not form the basis of your daily diet.
If sufficient carbohydrates are supplied before the race, no extra energy needs to be taken in during the run for the relatively short distances of 5- and 10km.
For optimal recovery after intensive training or competition, the first 15-45 minutes after the 5 or 10 km run are enormously important: In the so-called “open window” the muscle cell is particularly receptive to glucose and amino acids.
Recent studies show that rapid energy delivery is also important in terms of adaptation to the stimulus – including the production of mitochondria.
Now special sports nutrition is perfectly suited to reap the fruits of training – and to be fit again for new loads as quickly as possible.
Our RECOVERY SHAKE Contains high quality proteins, glutamine and extra leucine in addition to quickly available carbohydrates to enable optimal adaptation to the training stimulus. Leucine, together with proteins from rice and pea, provides optimal muscle recovery. Glutamine is especially important for the immune system and can help to protect against unpleasant infections (after intensive stress our organism is particularly susceptible to pathogens).
After key training sessions with particularly strong muscular stress can also be our RECOVERY 8 and 20 to 30 minutes later our RECOVERY SHAKE be drunk. R8 contains a special amino acid blend of fermented vegetables that has been shown to promote muscular recovery, prevent injury (it is also used in rehab after injury), and promote training adaptation.
The right food after running
Approximately 30-60min later, we recommend a nutrient-rich meal based on carbohydrates and proteins. Now protective substances from vegetables and fruits should not be neglected. Contrary to artificial antioxidants, natural protective substances, such as those contained in our products, do not delay training adaptation.
If the next day’s training is relaxed and the training goal is to make adjustments to the fat metabolism, the post-workout meals can be lower in carbohydrates and higher in fat and protein in order to deliberately avoid filling the glycogen stores.
If, on the other hand, an intensive workout is on the agenda again (and thus the best possible regeneration is in the foreground), carbohydrate-rich foods should be eaten.
 Jeukendrup, A. (2014). A step towards personalized sports nutrition: carbohydrate intake during exercise
 Thomas DT, Erdman KA, Burke LM. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance.
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