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Nutrition during a long endurance effort, by Guillaume Klein

How to organize your nutrition for a long endurance effort? 


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1) Goals based on effort

  • Optimize the functioning of the body to improve performance
  • Promote digestive comfort by avoiding various gastric problems

2) An individual strategy

It is essential to give the right fuel to your body, because just like a car is the essence of our engine.

There are some common rules for getting the most out of nutrition during long endurance exercise, however each person has their own way of working.

Factors to take into consideration to modulate the organization and composition of food:

  • The type and level of intensity of the sport activity
  • Individual digestive tolerance and sensitivity
  • Feelings, tastes and desires

A rule to follow when choosing energy intake:

  • Healthy products with the simplest and most natural ingredients possible

3) The different energy substrates

  • Energy bar

Adapted to long efforts, it is assimilated more slowly by the body, and can contain an interesting amount of proteins, vitamins and minerals.

Consume products that contain natural ingredients, with unrefined sugars with a moderate glycemic index, a supply of proteins, fatty acids, but also vitamins and minerals.

  • Energy gel

Very concentrated in carbohydrates with a high glycemic index, it is assimilated quickly by the body, but over a long effort it is rather a drawback.

Indeed, it can lead to blood sugar spikes, it provides only very few vitamins and minerals, and often causes digestive disorders by its acidity.

It is more suitable for a short test which requires a supply of sugars available more quickly, however it can be used on an ad hoc basis over a long effort in the event of a large drop in energy or at the end of the test.

To be properly assimilated, the energy gel must be absorbed with water.

  • Exercise drink

It must be isotonic, that is to say with the same concentration as the blood to allow better absorption, avoid digestive disorders and dehydration.

It must contain quality carbohydrates to bring a regular and progressive supply of sugars to the body.

A reasonable amount of unrefined sugars per serving, about 30g to 40g of carbohydrates per 500ml is more than enough.

Vitamins and minerals to optimize hydration and the use of carbohydrates, muscle function, fight against the acidity of the body, and compensate for losses from sweat.

  • Race and staff supplies

The race and personal supplies will help cut the monotony of gels, bars and energy drinks.

It is recommended over long efforts to consume salty foods and various preparations, to provide a "meal snack" and to provide the body with different contributions of proteins, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and essential fatty acids. (sandwich, mashed sweet potato, rice, crepe, fruit, dark chocolate, nuts, dried fruit, etc.).

  • Proteins and BCAAs

The BCAA intake becomes interesting to add during a prolonged effort, in order to compensate for the lack of protein consumption, for a role of easily assimilated food compensation.

This supply of branched amino acids grouping together Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine, complements the protein intake ingested via food during exercise.

In athletes wishing to optimize their endurance capacities, they will help save carbohydrate reserves, delay muscle and central nervous system fatigue.

A minimum intake of 1g per hour of effort of BCAA 2.1.1 (50% Leucine + 25% Isoleucine + 25% Valine).

4) How to organize your energy strategy in practice?

  • A range being around an intake of 30 to 90g of carbohydrates per hour (exercise drink + food intake) depending on needs, individual tolerance, intensity and nature of the effort.
  • Use energy products with sugars with a low to moderate glycemic index to avoid blood sugar spikes and ensure progressive energy.

“Preferably an energy bar richer in protein and essential fatty acids, and lower in carbohydrates”

  • A regular frequency in food intake (approximately every 20 to 30 minutes) to ensure the regulation of the sugar level.
  • At the end of the effort, possibility of consuming carbohydrates with a higher glycemic index and easily assimilated, on the one hand in order to cope with the depletion of the stock of glycogen, to maintain a state of alertness, concentration and performance until the end of the effort, on the other hand to minimize the digestive work of the organism.

"During exercise, digestion is slowed down to optimize muscle and heart function"

  • Regularly vary your energy intake with salty foods and homemade preparations to cut through the monotony of gels, bars, and energy drinks.
  • Ensure good hydration throughout the effort to compensate for losses related to sweating, and facilitate the assimilation of ingested carbohydrates.

"Mix water and energy drink in small frequent sips at a rate of 300 to 500ml every hour depending on climatic conditions and individual needs"

Example for an average intake of about 60g of carbohydrates for one hour of effort:

  • 1 energy bar + energy drink dosed at 40g of carbohydrates
  • The ¾ of a banana + energy drink dosed at 40g of carbohydrates
  • 1 energy gel 20g + energy drink dosed at 40g of carbohydrates
  • 30g of dates + energy drink dosed with 40g of carbohydrates

Beware of too much carbohydrate intake:

The whole food consumed must remain within a certain standard (from 30 to 90g of carbohydrates per hour of effort), so as not to overload the body with too much carbohydrate intake, which would not be assimilated by the body , causing gastric problems or dehydration.

Test in training:

It is important to get the intestine used to receiving food intake during exercise, to test its digestive tolerance, and the amount of energy needed to fully optimize performance factors.

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These explanations make it possible to give a generalist framework to set up at the level of its energy contributions during a long endurance effort.

However, it is necessary to individualize it in a specific way to each person's mode of operation, in order to benefit from beneficial effects on energy efficiency and digestive comfort.

This content was published by our Ambassador Guillaume Klein (Personal Coach Expert in sports nutrition and health / Ultra endurance specialist)

  • Nutriformation graduate specializing in micronutrition and nutritherapy
  • Trained in sports nutrition by the Evonutri Positive Nutrition Academy
  • Ultra Trail coach trained by the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes Athletics League
  • Dietitian nutritionist FC Metz professional group (since 2018)
  • Dietitian nutritionist FC Metz training center (since 2019)
  • Creator of the EPIC® method

Passionate about sport, and ultra endurance athlete in running and ultra cycling, Guillaume was able to test on himself the benefits of a natural nutritional balance, appropriate to his real needs, and of a specific adapted training. Guillaume appreciates quality products which respect the nutritional needs of the athlete, but also from a health point of view, a composition as natural as possible.

You too can take advantage of his advice and find all our products on this site

If you would like more information or advice, do not hesitate to contact guillaume via his site


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