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BASICS OF ENDURANCE NUTRITION - Part 1 Carbohydrates The Basics

Cheers to new beginnings. A new year is upon us, do you have your goals for this year. What races will you be taking on? I thought I would blog about the 4th discipline in endurance sports. It is nutrition. Having the right amounts and types of nutrition (and practicing it in your training) can increase your success to having a wonderful racing experience. However, having too much nutrition, or not enough, can make your race a bit more challenging.

Nutrition is almost a discipline on to itself. By now you have a little knowledge of how your training plan was developed and especially how the volume of training progressively increases as you get closer to your race. As the training volume increase your nutritional needs will also increase. This is important to ensure adequate fuel to train and especially for repair and restoration of your body. This concept is referred to as Periodization in nutrition.

Oh, by the way, once your training volume decreases, your nutritional needs will also decrease, this is important as to ensure that you are not consuming more calories than you are burning, thus can lead to weight gain. In the next section you will learn more about carbohydrates, followed by a brief discussion of the periodization in nutrition concept. The calculations can be performed by your coach, be sure to ask about this, you want to include this concept and train with it so that when you approach race day you will have also experimented with what you might want to consider eating the week of your race. I will save the periodization in nutrition concept for a later blog.

A good training and race nutrition plan should give you some idea of how and where to start with nutrition. At FE26Tricoach, LLC, preparing a nutrition plan is one of the many things that we do for our clients. Once again this will be a multiple part series. Today lets just start with basic facts regarding Carbohydrates. The following are basic facts regarding carbohydrate storage and other information which you may find useful:

  • There is approximately 500 grams (or 2,000 calories) of available carbohydrate in the average 80-kilogram person.

  • Blood glucose, liver glycogen and muscle glycogen are the source of stored carbohydrate. Endurance training increases your muscle storage capacity of glycogen.

  • Blood glucose is the brain’s fuel source at rest and during exercise.

  • Liver glycogen provides approximately 100 grams, or 400 calories of carbohydrate. These stores fluctuate based on the timing and composition of the last meal. Liver glycogen stores generally last from three to five hours at rest because the liver serves as the primary source to maintain normal blood glucose levels.

  • Muscle glycogen can provide approximately 400 grams or 1,600 calories of carbohydrate, depending on the athlete’s body weight and the composition of his or her diet.

  • Muscle glycogen serves as the major source of stored carbohydrate energy for active muscles during exercise, because it is readily available. In contrast, liver glycogen must be reconverted to glucose, which is then transported to the muscle cells to produce energy.

  • Hormones, such as insulin, regulate liver and muscle glycogen stores by controlling the levels of circulating blood sugar.

  • Elevated pre-exercise muscle and liver glycogen concentrations are essential for optimal performance.

In part 2 of this nutrition series I will cover pre-event fueling. Until then, enjoy your off season, and if you are doing a spring time race, welcome back to the grind.

Richard Nevarez

Ironman Certified Coach

FE26TriCoach, LLC

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