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Nutritional Considerations for Endurance Athletes

Nutritional considerations for endurance athletes. We're all on the athletic spectrum, to some extent. Even if we are a top international athlete. . .

Or, People just like me, someone who loves running, but understands that there is more to life. Regardless of where we are up to on the 'spectrum', we need to be aware of the implications that our nutritional intake has on our performance, our bodies and our health on the whole. Firstly, calories:

We're probably all aware of them and their role in mediating body weight and/or muscle and fat tissue.

If we have too many calories for the energy we expend, we put fat tissue on the body.

If we have too few to meet our energy requirements, then we lose fat tissue from the body. The need for a correct caloric intake for a runner is important for two reasons;

  1. Fuelling performance. We've all had those runs where we've just faded out, gone a little dizzy and had to call it a day. That is generally because we haven't consumed enough fuel before our run, resulting in a negative energy balance. This essentially empties the fuel tank and we can't run on anymore.

  2. Fuelling recovery. Recovering from endurance sport activities is a big task, and we need an appropriate amount of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and vitamins and minerals to ensure this happens.

Without this, we could experience chronic fatigue, inflammation and poor performance. (don't confuse this with over training)

These two points are huge considerations if you're considering using running as an aid to fat loss. (more on this below. . .) The second point of great importance is the quality of your calories. Technically, 1g of protein = 4 calories. 1g of carbohydrate = 4 calories and 1g of fat = 9 calories, regardless if they're from cakes, biscuits and protein shakes or complete, fresh and organic wholefoods.

You will, in theory, have the same body composition at the end of it all . . But, all foods are not made equal. The higher quality the calories, the better you'll perform, recover and feel in general. Eat a steak, jacket potato and lots of veggies, versus a cake, protein shake and a multivitamin, you're going to perform a lot differently. Quality really does matter. Using running for fat loss:

Running consumes a hell of a lot of energy, and therefore creates an energy deficit - exactly what you need to lose weight.

But, it is also that aggressive on your metabolism, it leaves you extremely hungry afterwards!

Therefore, post run, your dietary inhibitions are hugely decreased, and we consume all foods within our reach.

Resulting in our restoring your energy balance back to it's original position

If not putting yourself in to an energy surplus - which essentially means, you've eaten more calories than you've used.

In addition to this, remember, to perform well at our chosen distance, we need a good tank of fuel to train off and by creating the energy deficit, we leave our body short of that necessary food and our performance is a direct victim of that lack of energy,

If you're looking to reduce your body weight through running, then ensure the following;

You eliminate the vast majority of none essential foods - so chocolate, sweets, cakes and biscuits etc.

You eat wholesome foods, rich sources of protein, fats and carbohydrates


Have your post run food planned in advance, so you're not tempted to reach for all the food that is going to have a negative impact on your body

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