Fine-Tuning Your Fuel

Many athletes are in full force with training and race events this summer and upcoming fall. Race nutrition is so important and can make or break an event. I am a 2x Ironman and a Dietitian and am still tweaking my nutrition.

Today, I want to discuss a few tips for race nutrition based on a position paper in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The position paper was published in 2016, and was collaborated on by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American College of Sports Medicine, and Dietitians of Canada. I personally use these recommendations during training and as well as when providing specific guidance to other athletes. There is so much to learn from this article, but in efforts to keep this blog concise and to the point, I’ve listed a few tips that you can easily apply during your training or events. These tips must be fine-tuned for your performance; total daily energy needs as well as specific training needs should also be considered.

Tips for Endurance Events

Pre-Race or Prior to Long Training
Time: 1-4 hours prior to event = 1-4g carbohydrates/kg body weight
Carbohydrate Role: may increase body glycogen stores specifically in the liver
Focus on: high carbohydrate; low in fat, low in fiber, moderate in protein as these may cause GI complications

During the Race/Long Training
Time: 1-2.5 hours = aim for 30-60g carbohydrates/hour
Time:  2.5 or more = aim for 30-60g carbohydrates/hour and up to 90g/hour
Focus on: high carbohydrate; low in fat, low in fiber; amino acids and caffeine may be beneficial
Tip: Try out the various ranges during training to determine what your body best performs on.
Personal experience: I have better energy during a race when I consume closer to 45g carbohydrates every 45-60 minutes than 30g.

Post-Race/Long Training
Carbohydrate Goal: 1-1.2g carbohydrates/kg during the first 4-6 hours
Protein Goal: 15-25g protein within 2 hours of event
Tip: Follow up race and long training with a balanced meal 2 hours post if possible.

Hopefully the tips discussed help you make some helpful changes to race nutrition. Take the carbohydrate ranges into consideration and try it out during training. It is also important to ensure your daily nutrition is the right “base” of nutrients necessary to perform training and races. Often times, we forget how important a role our daily nutrition is on performance. Base nutrition needs are a blog for another day though…

If you have questions, please leave me a comment below so that we can discuss your needs in more detail. I would be happy to help fine tune your training and performance!


Position Paper – Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance

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