What clever Endurance Trainers do about Carbs.

What if you're NOT an athelete? Can you still successfully compete AND complete in Endurance races? Absolutely. With the help of Carbs...let's take a closer look.

There are steps involved in building up your strength and stamina physically and you may have a Personal Trainer or Coach to help you navigate those waters. But sustaining or fuelling your body in training sessions AND on race day is equally important. If you don't know this stuff, you're in the right place.

We're going to go over some Carbohydrate Basics to help you get your head around it all.

What is going on your body during an endurance training session or on race day?

  • Your blood flow is directed to your muscles and away from non-essential organs eg. Digestion
  • You're accessing your glycogen stores, because your body requires energy and fast
  • You start using fat stores definitely after 1 hr as there is less glycogen stores in muscles

So understanding this, how to we support our body better under this Physical Stress? (albeit a positive stress.

1. Carbohydrate Loading - This is increasing your Carbohydrate intake prior to your body requiring ample glycogen stores and therefore ENERGY.

When you run out of Glycogen, you "hit the wall" - a dark place you don't want to go if you can help it! "Hitting the wall" is simply when your muscles have run out of sugar to make them work. Keeping glycogen stores up is essential to finishing the endurance event. There are varying opinions on this. Some say 85-95% of your calories should come from carbohydrate sources.

  • Examples include - boiled potatoes, rice, porridge, bread, pancakes, juice.
  • Gluten Free options include - potatoes, corn tortillas/chips, linseed, quinoa salads, quinoa as a rice substitute, rice, amaranth & millet cereals, buckwheat, soy and wild rice.


2. Calories vs Quantity - Carb-loading can sound a bit daunting, but it's not about stuffing your face and over-eating. You can still have a normal sized meal and simply increase the carbohydrate ratio in your meal.

  • Average 10g carbs/kg/day (but this can be anywhere between 7-12g/day)
  • eg. For a 68kg person - 600-680 grams carbs/ 2,400 calories in carbs per day.
  • 10g of carbs looks like: 1 tub of natural yoghurt, 70g raw sweet potato, 80g raw potato, 1cup cereal, 1 piece bread, 100ml juice, half a banana, 2 tsps honey/sugar.
  • Take the carbs in via fluids - fruit smoothies, juice, electrolytes(sugar), carbohydrate powder products dissolved in drinks.

3. Prepare in advance - An example leading up to race day.

  • Several weeks out -  you want to be Testing in Training. Practice carb-loading 2 days before your peak or longest training sessions. How did you go? Good? Bad? Try different foods before training sessions to see which load you the best and give you energy on the day.
  • The last week prior - Make sure you eat after your light training runs or sessions during your taper week. This makes for good glycogen storing.
  • 2-3 days prior to race day - Begin Carb-loading. You want to be Eating 50% more carbs than you normally would. This is easier to take in via liquids, so consider a carb product as recommended by your Sports Nutritionist.
  • Dinner the night prior - This shouldn't be too stodgy and eat early. You want to make it EASY on your digestion before the big day.
  • Breakfast the day of - light and carb-dominant
  • 15 mins prior to your first big hill - Take a gel to get carbs into your system quickly for the energy surge needed, while you still may be cool and not in your rhythm yet.
  • Start the event Light, Hungry & Cool - Light as in the bare essentials in your pack. Hungry as in your breakfast should feel digested and almost ready for some more sustenance. Cool as in not overheated or too warm. You've got a long way to go, so let your body warm up naturally & gradually.

4. Your Nutrition Prescription

You should monitor & know your carb intake, inside-out & back-to-front. Your hourly nutrition should look like this:

Drink: 600-800ml every hour eg. Routinely every 15 mins and sipping between that as needed.

Eat: 100-110g carbs/hour


For more information about how to fully prepare your nutrition and diet for an endurance race, speak to our Functional Nutritionist, Linda Funnell-Milner. She can tailor an eating plan in the lead up to your event and make sure you're getting enough Carbohydrates.

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This is vital for sustaining you for any long distance training and eventually race day. Remember, Carbohydrate means ENERGY! Energy to train effectively, Energy to start, compete & complete your event. Your body will amaze you at how much physical pressure it can stand, if you just fuel it right.

Other blog posts you may be interested in:

7 Mistakes draining your Energy & Stamina

Endurance: Why winging it fails and preparation suceeeds

Connect with us at info@familywellnesscentre.com.au or call 9938 1090 to speak to our team today.

Carbohydrates Endurance training

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