Nutrition is a key factor in helping runners, cyclists, and triathletes maximize their performance and expedite recovery. A well-planned diet can make all the difference when it comes to improving energy levels, preventing injuries, and achieving personal bests. In this comprehensive guide on running nutrition, we will delve into various aspects that are essential for success in endurance sports.

Optimizing Running Nutrition Graphic
Optimizing Running Nutrition

We’ll discuss macronutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats – their strategic intake and importance in a runner’s diet plan. Additionally, hydration strategies including pre-run tips and monitoring fluid loss during activity will be covered.

Furthermore, you’ll learn about ideal pre-run meal composition with optimal nutrient absorption timing considerations. Post-run recovery meals play an important role too; hence we’ll explore balancing macronutrients along with nutrient timing strategies after workouts.

Micronutrient needs such as calcium, iron, zinc magnesium among others are also critical components of running nutrition which will be discussed alongside food sources rich in these essential nutrients. Lastly, adapting to keto or fat-adapted diets along with weather considerations for adjusting carbohydrate intake based on temperature variations will be addressed.

Macronutrients for Endurance Athletes

A balanced diet for endurance athletes, such as runners, cyclists, and triathletes, should include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. These macronutrients play a crucial role in supporting your training runs and overall running performance.

Strategic Carbohydrate Intake to Optimize Performance

Carbohydrates, as the main source of fuel for exercise, should be strategically consumed to maximize performance.

Protein Sources and Requirements for Endurance Sports

Protein is a key nutrient for runners. It helps the body rebuild and recover. Including protein sources rich in omega-3 fatty acids like grass fed beef, lamb and salmon can also promote heart health while reducing inflammation caused by hard training sessions.

Importance of Healthy Fats in a Runner’s Diet

Fats often get overlooked when it comes to a runner’s diet plan; however, they’re vital for maintaining overall health while providing some energy needs during prolonged exercises.

Incorporating healthy fats from sources like quality sourced lard and tallow into meals helps support hormone production and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin B12.

In short, amino acids and fatty acids are essential for an endurance athlete’s diet and can help maximize performance when eaten thoughtfully.

Comprehending the approaches for pre-exercise hydration, monitoring fluid depletion during exercise and restoring electrolytes after activity is necessary to guarantee ideal hydration throughout physical exertion.

Hydration Strategies

Adequate hydration plays an essential role in regulating body temperature during long runs. Drinking water at least four hours prior to exercise helps ensure proper fluid balance throughout the session. Fluid intake recommendations range between 400ml and 2,400ml per hour depending on individual sweat rates.

Pre-run Hydration Tips

To avoid dehydration and maintain peak running performance, consume at least 500-600 ml of water two to three hours before your training run or race. Additionally, drink another 200-300 ml about 20 minutes before starting your activity. Runner’s World provides more detailed guidelines for optimal pre-run hydration.

Monitoring Fluid Loss During Activity

  • Weigh yourself before and after a run to estimate how much fluid you’ve lost through sweating.
  • If you lose more than 1% of your body weight in fluids during a workout, increase your hydration efforts accordingly.
  • offers helpful advice on calculating sweat rate and adjusting fluid intake based on individual needs.

Replenishing Electrolytes Post-exercise

Sports drinks with electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium can help replenish what is lost through sweat during endurance activities.

Choose sports drinks with low sugar content. Alternatively, consider consuming natural sources of electrolytes such as coconut water or adding a pinch of salt to your post-run water bottle. For more information on electrolyte replacement, check out this TrainingPeaks article.

Hydration strategies are a key component of successful endurance training, and proper pre-run nutrition is just as important. With the right knowledge and planning, you can maximize your performance before hitting the pavement or trail.

Pre-run Nutrition Tips

Eating light meals or small snacks approximately 60-90 minutes before starting your run can help improve performance without causing gastrointestinal distress.

Avoid refined carbs, lactose-intolerant individuals, spicy dishes, excessive amounts of fiber, and certain types of dairy products that could cause discomfort during activity.

Key Takeaway

Say NO to disaster pants. Avoid refined carbs, lactose-intolerant individuals, spicy dishes, excessive amounts of fiber, and certain types of dairy products that could leave you spending time in the bathroom than time running.

Ideal Pre-run Meal Composition

A pre-run meal should incorporate a combination of proteins, and beneficial fats. Some examples of ideal pre-run meals are:

  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Full fat greek yogurt
  • Pre-workout drink
  • Deli-meat
  • Vespa Amino Acids

Timing Considerations for Optimal Nutrient Absorption

To ensure proper nutrient absorption while avoiding stomach issues during your training runs, it’s essential to time your pre-run meal correctly.

Aim to consume your meal about 60-90 minutes before the start of your run, allowing ample time for digestion.

Additionally, consider consuming a small snack like an energy bar after you warm-up. Usually 30 – 45 minutes after you start your workout.

Hydration is also crucial in the hours leading up to exercise, so be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day as part of maintaining a balanced diet for optimal running performance.

Pre-run nutrition is essential for optimizing performance, and timing meals appropriately can help ensure optimal nutrient absorption. Post-run, wait until you have cooled down before consuming calories. Revert back to a high-quality nutritious meal.

Post-Run Recovery Meals

Achieving optimal recovery after a long run or intense workout is crucial for improving your performance and preventing injuries. The key to an effective post-run meal lies in balancing macronutrients, nutrient timing strategies, and personal preferences.

Balancing Macronutrients in Recovery Meals

Post-run nutrition should include proteins for muscle repair and healthy fats for recovery.

  • Salmon with broccoli and butter
  • Skirt Steak with onions and peppers
  • Chicken breast with squash and butter.

Nutrient Timing Strategies After Workouts

The timing of your post-workout carbohydrates plays a significant role in promoting muscle recovery. Consuming nutrients immediately after exercise can help maximize the benefits by taking advantage of the body’s heightened ability to absorb amino acids from protein sources (source).

Additionally, it is essential to rehydrate properly by drinking water or sports drinks that contain electrolytes to replace the fluids lost during your training run.

Test out various food mixes and timings to discover what functions best for you. Remember, a well-planned post-run recovery meal can significantly impact your running performance and overall health.

It is important to focus on post-run recovery meals in order to maximize performance, and micronutrient needs for runners are equally as vital for optimal health.

Comprehending the necessity of minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and manganese in a runner’s sustenance can help guarantee our bodies get all the necessary nutrients while working out.

Micronutrient Needs for Runners

Ensuring sufficient micronutrient intake from plant-based sources is crucial for supporting overall health and general wellbeing alongside specific athletic needs.

Po-rich diets containing at least 8 mg/day iron are recommended to prevent osteoporosis and stress fractures, which are common among endurance athletes.

Importance of Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Magnesium, and Manganese in a Runner’s Diet

  • Calcium: Essential for strong bones and teeth, as well as muscle function. Good sources include bone broth and cottage cheese.
  • Iron: Necessary for oxygen transport in the blood; runners need more due to increased red blood cell production. Consume proteins such as beef, bison, or lamb.
  • Zinc: Supports immune system function and helps repair damaged tissues after training runs. Red meat, shellfish, and seeds have high levels of zinc.
  • Magnesium: Aids muscle recovery by reducing inflammation while also promoting healthy sleep patterns. Get your daily dose from Brazil nuts, dark chocolate and avocados.
  • Manganese: Important for energy metabolism during long-distance running events – think sweet clams, mussels, and oysters.

To optimize performance, runners should be mindful of the best sources and amounts of micronutrients to ensure adequate intake. To further maximize performance, adapting a keto or fat-adapted diet can help enhance endurance capabilities.

Adapting to Keto or Fat-Adapted Diets

Some endurance athletes may choose to follow keto-adapted or fat-adapted dietary approaches, which focus on utilizing fats as the primary fuel source instead of carbohydrates.

Understanding how these diets impact performance can help inform personal nutrition choices while still meeting energy demands during training sessions and competitions.

Benefits and Challenges of Keto-Adaptation for Runners

Keto-adaptation has been shown to increase the body’s ability to burn fat, potentially providing a more sustainable energy source for long-distance events. Strategies for Successful Fat Adaptation in Endurance Sports

  • Increase healthy fats: Gradually replace carbohydrate-rich foods with sources of healthy fats such as lard and tallow.
  • Maintain adequate protein intake: Consume quality proteins like grass raised beef, lamb, or bison.
  • Nutrient timing: Experiment with consuming small meals containing carbohydrates before key workouts like your long run or intervals. This increases glycogen stores and improve performance without compromising the fat-adaptation process.
  • Monitor progress: Regularly assess your running performance, muscle recovery, and glucose levels to ensure that you are becoming fat adapted without compromising your performance.

When pursuing keto-adaptation for running, it is essential to consider where you are at in your training cycle, when is your next key event, and your performance goals.

Nutrition Periodization

Periodized training cycles are an essential part of any endurance athlete’s plan. These cycles provide structure and help athletes to build up their speed and endurance.

The best way to fuel for endurance training is to match the athletes nutrition to the training cycle. We will walk through an Annual Training Plan (ATP) and cover the phases of training where macro-nutrient ratios fit in.

Basic Periodization

  • Transition
  • Preparation
  • Base
  • Build
  • Peak
  • Race

Transition Phase

The beginning of the training cycle is is what’s known as the “transition” phase. The is the phase right after your “A” race. This is your deep recovery where you heal your body from the previous training cycle. This is the best pace to adopt a keto-adapted or fat-adapted approach to nutrition.

This phase lasts 2-4 weeks. It is an essential start to building a solid foundation to a great training season.

Preparation Phase

This is the Preparation Phase where you get back into the basics of fitness. A great place to do a posture assessment and do corrective exercises.

It is great place to continue the adapted/keto-adapted approach to nutrition. Continue the ketogenic diet and work on getting enough high quality protein and fats to optimize hormone production and muscle recovery.

Base Phase

The Base Phase is what most people consider endurance training. It is where will work on a base level of fitness for your given sport. “base” of endurance while throwing in some speed work and hills.

This is the phase of training where you will start to experiment with exogenous fuels. This the the nutrition that you will consume to improve your performance.

Examples of sports nutrition.
  • Amino Acids: Vespa Power
  • Fats: SFuels
  • Protein:
  • Ketones
  • Carbohydrates

Build Phase

The Build Phase is the phase of training where you dig deep. This training matches race day conditions. If your race has hills, you train on hills, if the race is a short sprint, you train short sprints.

The Build Phase is also where you dial in your race day nutrition. An athlete should never question “what should I eat on race day”? That should all be determined in the Build Phase of Training.


The Peak Phase is about 2-3 weeks before the event. This is where volume decreases but intensity stays the same.

This is also where the athlete will back off some of the carbohydrates outside of training. They do this to increase their insulin sensitivity.

Taper Phase

The taper is recommend for “A” races. Those races that the goal is for a Personal Best. A taper last anywhere from 3-14 days.

During a taper, the week before, it is a good idea to start adding back in some carbohydrates before the event. this helps up-regulate the enzymes needed to metabolize carbohydrates.


Finally race day is here. All your hard work over the months finally paying off.

Follow the nutrition strategy that you figured out in the Build Phase. Remember, nothing new on race day.

Most importantly, enjoy the day.

Hydration Strategies for Hot and Cold Environments

Hot weather: During warm conditions, make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day leading up to your training runs or races.

Additionally, consider consuming sports drinks, coconut water, or caffeinated beverages that contain electrolytes like sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chloride, bicarbonate, phosphate, sulfate, and taurine.

These help replace lost minerals through sweat and prevent cramping and muscle fatigue.

Cold weather: In colder climates where sweating might be less apparent, staying hydrated remains vital in maintaining proper bodily functions during exercise sessions and competitions alike.

Drinking warm liquids pre-run and post-exercise aid digestion, absorption of nutrients, while keeping internal temperatures stable.

FAQs in Relation to Running Nutrition

What are some nutrition facts for runners?

Runners require quality nutrition that includes fats and protein. Healthy fats and quality protein support hormone production and reduce inflammation. Carbohydrates, when used properly, can improve speed and performance.

Runners should also prioritize hydration and consume essential micronutrients like iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium chloride (salt), vitamins D & B12 from nutrient-dense foods.

What is the most important nutrient for runners?

The most crucial nutrient for runners is high quality protein. This is the foundation of a healthy diet. Consuming enough protein ensures that you will recover well.

How does nutrition affect running?

Nutrition plays a vital role in running performance by providing nutrients to help maintain consistent energy levels throughout training sessions or races; promote muscle growth/repair; boost immune function; improve mental focus; optimize body composition; enhance recovery time between workouts.

How do you carry nutrition while running?

To carry nutrition during runs efficiently without causing discomfort or hindrance in movement, consider using waist belts with pockets/pouches.

These are designed to cary the fuel and electrolytes you need for the race.

Handheld water bottles with storage compartments are helpful and are or hydration vests with multiple pockets.

Choose the option that suits your personal preference and race distance requirements.


Proper running nutrition is essential for endurance athletes to perform at their best. It involves consuming appropriate amounts of quality protein and healthy fats.

Nutrient timing strategies are also important for for power and speed.

Hydration considerations must not be overlooked, and micronutrients play a vital role in runners’ health.

If you want to take your running nutrition seriously, contact Coach Stephanie Holbrook today for personalized coaching on how to fuel your body properly.

She can also guide you on how and when to incorporate carbohydrates, amino acids, and ketone supplements to optimize your performance.

Don’t settle for mediocre running performance. With Coach Stephanie Holbrook’s guidance, you can achieve your goals and perform at your best. Contact her here to get started.

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