Endurance? What is it?
Aerobic activities that last for at least an hour are classified as endurance exercises. Running, swimming, and cycling are among the most common endurance sports. These can be standalone events like ultra-marathons, or combined ones like triathlons. Endurance events demand significant energy, which is derived from nutrition. Ensuring the right nutrition for stamina and vigor is crucial, regardless of whether you're a top-tier athlete or a hobbyist.
THERE IS NOT ONE RECIPE
Different events, athletes, and routine fitness enthusiasts have unique needs. Hence, it's evident that there isn't a universal diet for endurance. Elements like body weight, surrounding environment, and when nutrients are consumed play significant roles. Each competitor might have varied nutritional requirements based on the event. The journey might begin with general dietary suggestions. If these don't yield the expected outcomes, alterations can be made. Pinpointing the optimal endurance diet often requires a process of experimentation.
Nutritional Requirements for Endurance Athletes.
These are carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Healthy adult eating includes ratios of:
- 45-65% of calories from carbs
- 20-35% of calories from fat
- 10-35% of calories from protein
Modify these proportions according to the objective of the exercise. For instance, an athlete focusing on endurance might raise their carbohydrate intake to enhance glycogen storage in muscles. Conversely, an individual emphasizing strength would prioritize greater protein consumption to more effectively bolster muscle growth.
What is the appropriate amount of carbohydrates that endurance athletes should consume?
There are two simple and complex carbs:
- Simple carbohydrates, often referred to as simple sugars, consist of one or two sugar molecules such as glucose, dextrose, and fructose. They are rapidly metabolized by the body. Sources of simple sugars encompass fruits, milk, vegetables, table sugar, sweets, and sodas. While they provide energy, they are typically deficient in fiber, vitamins, and essential nutrients.
- Complex carbohydrates consist of three or more sugar molecules. They are present in foods such as beans, whole grains, whole-wheat pasta, potatoes, corn, and legumes.
Which type of carbohydrate should be your primary choice? A majority of your carb intake should be derived from complex sources and natural sugars. It's advisable to reduce or steer clear of processed carbohydrates and refined sugars.
What should be the carbohydrate intake for endurance athletes? While specific needs may vary based on the nature and length of the exercise, a general guideline is to derive up to 70% of total daily calories from carbohydrates. This is to ensure a sufficient glucose supply for the intense energy demands of such activities. Every gram of carbohydrate provides 4 calories. Endurance sports enthusiasts should aim for 8 to 10 grams of carbs per kilogram (kg) of body weight daily, though the exact amount might change depending on the duration of their event. For those undergoing endurance exercises that span 4 to 5 hours, a consumption of 10 grams per kilogram of body weight is recommended.
For instance, consider an endurance runner weighing 70 kg participating in an event that spans 4 hours or longer. Their daily carbohydrate intake should be at least 700 grams. On the other hand, a power athlete would have a lower carb intake, typically around 4 to 5 grams per kilogram of body weight. Their dietary emphasis would shift towards higher protein consumption.
What is the recommended protein intake for endurance athletes?
While many emphasize carbohydrates for endurance training, it's essential not to overlook the significance of protein. Protein plays a crucial role in building and repairing lean muscle tissue and can also serve as an energy source during caloric shortages. Proteins can be categorized into two main types: Animal-derived and Plant-derived.
Animal-derived proteins come directly from animals, whether from their flesh, like a piece of beef or a fish fillet, or products they produce, such as milk or eggs. These proteins are termed complete proteins because they provide all nine vital amino acids. Examples of animal-derived protein sources are beef, fish, chicken, eggs, and milk.
On the other hand, plant-derived proteins are sourced from plants. They may originate from the plant's leaves, roots, fruits, or nuts. Although nutritious, they are often termed incomplete proteins, as they typically lack one or more of the essential amino acids. Common sources of plant-derived proteins include almonds, oats, broccoli, chia seeds, quinoa, hemp seeds, and peanut butter.
It's worth noting that each gram of protein provides 4 calories. The daily protein requirement for an average adult is approximately 0.8 grams/kg. However, endurance athletes should aim for around 1.4 g/kg/day. Athletes participating in longer events will need more protein than those in shorter activities. For instance, a 70 kg endurance athlete should target 98 grams of protein daily. In contrast, athletes in strength or power sports might consume up to 2.0 g/kg/day. For endurance athletes following a plant-based diet, their protein needs might be slightly higher because plant-derived proteins are often incomplete.
What is the recommended fat intake for endurance athletes?
Endurance athletes require beneficial fats as part of their nutrition. About 30% of their daily caloric intake should be sourced from fats during endurance activities. The body utilizes dietary fat for reasons such as: Provide energy, Assist in producing and regulating hormones, Contribute to cell membrane formation, Support the development of the brain and nervous system, Facilitate the transport of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), Deliver two essential fatty acids that the body cannot produce (linoleic acid and linolenic acid).
Various fats exist, with some being beneficial and others less so. The primary kinds include triglycerides, fatty acids, phospholipids, and cholesterol. Among these, triglycerides are the most prevalent in our diet. Fatty acids can be further categorized into saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. Endurance athletes should limit their intake of saturated fats. The majority of their fat calories should come from monounsaturated fatty acids. For those adjusting their fat consumption to meet the requirements of endurance activities, it's crucial to prioritize healthy fats .
This includes fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna, which are rich in omega-3s. Avocados are another excellent choice, packed with monounsaturated fats. Seeds, such as sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds, are abundant in beneficial fats. Nuts, including peanuts, walnuts, almonds, and cashews, are not only protein-rich but also have the right kind of fats. Olive oil, a staple in Mediterranean diets, is another source of monounsaturated fats. Eggs offer a balance of fats and proteins, while ground flaxseed provides a plant-based omega-3 source. Additionally, beans, including kidney, navy, and soybeans, contain both protein and healthy fats, making them an excellent addition to an endurance athlete's diet.
Timing of Nutrients for Peak Endurance Performance.
To reach optimal performance, it's crucial to have nutrients ready when your body demands them. This is best achieved by establishing a structured nutrient consumption strategy that outlines when to intake specific nutrients. It's vital to strategically time the consumption of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and water for the best results in endurance activities. This entails planning what to eat and drink before, during, and after endurance workouts or events.
Before your endurance session:
- Take in 1 gram of carbohydrate for every kilogram of your body weight, 2 hours in advance.
- Only practice carbohydrate loading in the lead-up to an actual endurance event.
During your endurance activity:
- Every 20-25 minutes, drink 0.3 liters of fluid containing electrolytes and a 5% carbohydrate concentration.
After completing your endurance activity:
- Within the initial 30 minutes post-exercise, consume 1.5 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of your body weight.
- Within the first 30 minutes after exercising, ingest 15 to 25 grams of protein.
- Drink 0.7 liters of water for each kg of body weight you've lost during the activity.
Endurance Nutrition: Piecing It All Together
Endurance nutrition encompasses various elements. However, when athletes diligently follow guidelines and discern strategies that resonate with their needs, they witness enhanced performance. This dedication can lead to more accolades during competitions. Regardless of whether you're a top-tier competitor, an occasional sports enthusiast, or a personal trainer crafting plans for athletes, appropriate fueling is paramount. Consuming the right nutrients at the opportune moments empowers the body to function at its peak potential.
 Healthy Fat foods for your diet. WebMD. (2022, February 22). Retrieved April 19, 2023, from https://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-healthy-fat-foods
נכתב על ידי
PhD student in computer science, Technion from Haifa
עוד עדכונים בבלוג
The Science Behind Running: Lactate thresholdby Barak Gahtan / Jul. 27, 2023
"Lactate threshold" is a critical yet often misunderstood term in the field of endurance training. This blog seeks to clarify its role, its importance for athletes—especially runners—and the methods tha t can be employed to optimize this vital physiological indicator for improved running performance.
The Science Behind Running - VO2by Barak Gahtan / Jul. 01, 2023
Ever wondered what makes a runner perform better, go faster, and last longer? It's time to shed light on the metabolic marvel that plays a significant role in it all - the VO2 max. Join us as we delve into this intriguing fitness metric and reveal how it can transform your running performance, setting you on the path to achieving your personal bests.
The Benefits of Rotating Running Shoes: Enhancing Performance and Preventing Injuriesby Barak Gahtan / Jun. 18, 2023
When it comes to training for a marathon or any race, many runners understand the importance of proper footwear. However, what some may overlook is the value of rotating between different shoes and drops throughout their training regimen. In this blog post, we'll delve into the benefits of incorporating a variety of running shoes into your weekly training routine and explain why it's more than just a fashion statement. Let's explore how rotating shoes can take your running to the next level.
Unraveling the Mystery of Running Shoes: Shoe Drop 2ֿ/2by Barak Gahtan / May. 19, 2023
When you dive into the vast ocean of running shoes, a term you'll likely come across is "drop." If you're not a seasoned runner, this term might be as mysterious as the dark side of the moon. In its simplest form, the "drop" in a running shoe, also known as the "heel-to-toe drop," is the difference in cushioning height between the heel and the toe of the shoe, usually measured in millimeters (mm).
Unraveling the Mystery of Running Shoes: Carbon-plated running shoes (1\2)by Barak Gahtan / May. 05, 2023
In today's world, running shoes boast a combination of innovative features tailored to each runner's unique needs . Think shoe weight and longitudinal stiffness for enhancing running economy (RE), diverse midsole hardness and upper construction for optimal comfort, or slimmer midsoles and reduced heel-toe drops for injury prevention .
Understanding running dynamics parametersby Barak Gahtan / Apr. 05, 2023
Nowadays many smart watches record and measure many parameters other than heart-rate such as cadence, vertical ratio, vertical oscillation and many more. Runners can gain much better insight into their techniques and training progress by using these measurements.