Fuel Up

Fuel Up

You’ve put in all that work training for your race.

But without the right fuel, you won’t do as well on race day as you’d like.

When athletes are in the midst of training for a big event, they need to be eating the right foods.

Sports nutritionist Susan Kundrat gave nutrition advice Thursday night to runners training for the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon and Half-Marathon. Here are some of her tips for eating right before and after a training run and on race day.

  • Eat at least five times a day, including meals and snacks, and eat a mix of carbohydrates and proteins each time.
  • Carbohydrates are your main fuel. Start increasing the amount of carbohydrates you’re eating three days before a hard training run or a race.
  • When training hard, you can eat up to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day.
  • If you are eating three or four hours before a workout, eat a regular meal; two or three hours before a workout, eat a lighter meal; and one hour before, have mostly fluids and some extra carbs.
  • Don’t skimp on the salt, especially if you’re training in warm weather and sweating a lot. Eat soups or pretzels, or salt your food.
  • Avoid carbonated drinks, fat and a lot of protein before a workout or race.
  • If you have difficulty eating much before an early morning training run or race, eat something extra before going to bed the night before, then eat or drink 400 to 500 calories in the morning.
  • Plan to consume about 30 grams of carbohydrates per hour in the form of an energy drink, gel or snack during a training run or race.
  • Make sure you are drinking enough by weighing yourself before and after a hard workout. You should not lose more than 2 percent of your body weight.
  • After a workout or race, eat a recovery snack of fluids and a mix of carbohydrates and protein within 30 minutes. Eat a meal containing carbohydrates and proteins within two hours.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY, try out different foods and fluids during your training and see what works for you. Stick with that routine on race day.

Find more information about Kundrat’s sports nutrition programs at www.nutritiononthemove.net. Kundrat hosts a cooking show, I-Cook, for the University of Illinois’ Division of Campus Recreation. See the show’s Web page for healthy recipes, including a healthy pasta salad recipe coming in April.

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