The basics of sports nutrition for optimal performance

For triathletes, cyclists or novice runners, it is sometimes surprising to see how useful it is to equip yourself with a palette well supplied with "nutritional tools". Well, worry no more. We will present you the recommended ingredients for optimal energy levels and maximum performance during your training and competitions. 

1) Create a good stock of Carbohydrates

Simply put, carbohydrates are sugars and starches that fuel our bodies like gasoline powers a race car. Each gram of carbohydrate contains about 4 calories of fuel. Just like a racing car stores its fuel in a tank, the human body stores carbohydrates as glycogen in our muscles and liver. These glycogen stores are used to stabilize blood sugars and allow optimal muscle function. Runners who balance their meals with 45-65% carbohydrate while still meeting daily energy requirements can expect to store around 2 grams (8 calories) of glycogen per pound of muscle and around 100 to 125 grams (400-500 calories) in the liver. This amount of glycogen provides the energy needed to run the machine for about 2 hours at a moderate intensity, making the addition of carbohydrates necessary during long-term efforts to avoid exhaustion and muscle fatigue. It's there that sports nutrition in terms of carbohydrate intake becomes interesting. It can help maintain glycogen stores and prevent fatigue. 

How much carbohydrate do we need? 

Race Week:

If you are preparing for a race that lasts longer than 3 hours, increase your pre-race carbohydrate stores by incorporating 4 to 5 grams of easily digestible natural carbohydrates (low in fiber) per kilogram of body muscle each day for the last 72 hours before race day. A single day or 48 hour standby protocol can be effective for shorter runs.

Examples of easily digestible carbohydrates are pretzels, plain toast, bananas, white pasta, white rice, potato, rice-based cereal, sports drinks and energy bars.

Race day:

Aim for 100-150 grams of easily digestible carbohydrates (low in fiber) within 2-3 hours before the start of the race. Make sure you have 1 hour of digestion time for every 200-300 calorie consumption. An ideal pre-race snack to consume within 2 to 3 hours before the start would for example be a slice of bread with a little peanut butter and honey and a few sips of sports drink.

During the race:

Aim for a carbohydrate intake (in grams) based on ¼ to 1 / 3 of your body weight. Feed yourself every hour of training or racing beyond 45 to 90 minutes.

For example, an 80kg runner should aim for around 45-60 grams of carbohydrate for every hour of training or running. To maximize the absorption of carbohydrates in the muscles and prolong endurance, choose products whose ingredient lists include different types of carbohydrates. Common carbohydrate sources used in sports foods include maltodextrin, glucose or dextrose, sucrose and fructose. Common products used on race day include sports drinks, energy gels, and energy bars.


Aim 50 at 100 grams of carbohydrates, preferably in liquid form, through recovery beverages, to promote rehydration as well as the reappearance of carbohydrates, as soon as possible after finishing a workout or race effort.

2) Consume proteins

In scientific terms, proteins are large, complex molecules that make up 20% of our body weight in the form of muscle, bone, cartilage, skin, and other body tissues and fluids. During digestion, proteins are broken down into at least 100 individual chemical blocks known as amino acids which form a small pool in our liver and are used to build muscle, skin, hair, nails. , eyes, hormones, enzymes, antibodies and nerves. Some research has found that including small amounts of protein during prolonged activity can help improve performance by sparing muscle glycogen and making it easier to absorb fluids. Protein can also help fill the hunger that arises during longer efforts. Be careful with excess protein, as large amounts slow gastric emptying and can precipitate nutrient delivery in the intestine and cause an upset stomach, muscle fatigue, and cramps.

What proteins do athletes need? 

In training, it is estimated that endurance athletes require about 0,5 to 0,75 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass per day. For example, an 80kg man with 10% body fat has a lean body mass of around 70kg and therefore requires more or less 80-120 grams of protein per day.

On race day, include 10-20 grams of protein in the 2-3 hours before the start of the run to help stabilize blood sugar levels. Common sources of pre-race protein include peanut butter, non-fat milk or yogurt, eggs and energy bars.

While running, if you have a run of more than 4 hours, aim for up to 5 grams of protein per hour. Major sources include sports drinks, energy bars, as well as whole food alternatives like turkey and peanut butter sandwiches. (Very American, yes, but pretty good!) 

Post-Race, an intake of 10-20 grams of protein ingested immediately after the race is sufficient to initiate muscle repair and post-exercise immune function. The main sources include milk, protein recovery drinks (whey protein).

3) About electrolytes 

The replacement of electrolytes becomes a determining factor in endurance races lasting longer than 1 hour, especially during training and racing in hot and humid conditions. The main electrolytes include sodium (usually bound to chloride), potassium, magnesium, and calcium. These electrolytes are involved in metabolic activities and are essential for the function of all cells, including muscle function. An electrolyte imbalance has revealed symptoms similar to those of dehydration: nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, muscle cramps, muscle tremors, overall fatigue, labored breathing, "pins and needles" and confusion.

How Much Electrolytes Do Athletes Need? 

Pre-race, athletes vulnerable to muscular cramps and tiredness as well as those who compete can benefit from an increase in salt intake in the few days before the day of the race. Many food options, such as pretzels, sports drinks, bread and cereals have them. Likewise, on the morning of the race, choosing more salty carbohydrate sources, such as a salty loaf, while sipping a sports drink rather than plain water can be beneficial for the body. An extra salt intake is not recommended for athletes using blood pressure medications.

During the run, aim for 200-500 mg of sodium per bottle of water consumed as well as smaller amounts of potassium, magnesium and calcium. Note that too much sodium can lead to bloating. Make sure to consider all your sources, including sports drinks, energy bars energy bars (20-210 mg per 3 parts), salt packs (~ 200 mg per pack) and electrolyte capsules (~ 100-200 mg per capsule).

Post-race, consume a sports drink rather than regular water, after the race, it will facilitate optimal rehydration of muscles, including replacement of lost electrolytes.

4) Drink enough! 
Because water supports all metabolic activity, helps lubricate our muscles and joints, and also keeps our core body temperature in check, failure to absorb enough fluids for a long time can have a negative impact. dramatic about health and performance. Therefore, determining the sweat rate and fluid requirements accordingly is extremely important for athletes. Practice weighing before and after training and drink fluids so that no more than 2% of your body weight is lost during training and running.

How much does it take to drink? 

On a daily basis, a 70 kg man requires about 3L of fluid per day.

In pre-race, it is not uncommon to lose 1-2% of your weight in water during the night. Unfortunately, this level of dehydration can have significant negative consequences on performance. Be sure to sip water in the 1 2 hours before the start of the race. 

While running, aim for ½ to 1 liter per hour. It is important to note that overhydration, also known as hyponatremia, can be just as dangerous as dehydration and is usually caused by consuming fluids, especially water, beyond what is required. the body can absorb. Cardinal symptoms of overhydration include clear urine, headache, nausea, vomiting, and confusion. To monitor hydration status, weigh yourself before and after your workout. The goal is to stay within 2% of your pre-workout weight.

Post-run, if you lost more than 2% of your pre-workout weight during a workout or run, sip fluids until your urine is clear. It is estimated that it takes about 1,5L of fluid to replenish 1kg of body weight.

5) Additional useful ingredient: caffeine

Stimulating the nervous system, caffeine can help maintain blood sugar levels and reduce energy loss through its effects on active musculature and the nervous system. It reduces fatigue and increases perceptions of exertion. The specific aromas of energy gels are generally caffeinated (a dose of 25 to 50 mg). It is important to experiment with your personal tolerance to caffeine as some athletes do not respond favorably, with symptoms like rapid heartbeat, muscle twitching, upset stomach ... 

The recommended dose of caffeine: 

Aim 100 at 300 mg caffeine (for example, 1 at 3 cups of coffee) in the 2-3 hours before the start of the race and other 25 takes at 50 mg of caffeine every hour during the race. Avoid consuming more than 500 mg of caffeine on the day of the race. For best results, consider eliminating caffeine from the diet by reducing doses gradually. 



Article inspired by Infinit Custom Nutrition Blends uses cookies to provide the best user experience. Please accept cookies to continue exploring our site
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