In both training and racing you need about 40 to 50 grams of carbohydrates every hour to maintain function and provide a steady energy for performance. That includes what you eat and drink. So, be sure to balance what you eat with the nutrients you ingest in liquid form. It’s all too easy to double the amount of sugar in your stomach, delay absorption, and slow yourself down.
More: Real Foods for Race Day
4. Bonking, or "hitting the wall," is often temporary, as long as there are energy sources available.
Your muscles don’t run out of glycogen for the most part, but your brain does because it needs carbohydrates to function properly. Recognize, then, that when you feel weak, light-headed or sluggish while training or racing, it generally means you’re off track with your nutritional intake. Eating or drinking a carbohydrate source will restore your blood and liver glycogen stores, and within a short time your energy level can likely recover.
More: What You Need to Know About the Dreaded Bonk
5. Enzymes that make glycogen are most receptive to carbohydrate replenishment immediately following exercise.
To recover more rapidly, consume at least 50 to 100 grams of carbohydrates in the 15 to 30 minutes immediately following exercise.
6. Consume a varied diet.
Eat lots of green leafy vegetables, fruits, fresh fish—omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon help reduce inflammation and encourage recovery from exercise, free-range meat and dairy products, whole grains, nuts, and olive or canola oils. These foods are pretty basic and easy to prepare.
Try to stay away from as many packaged and canned foods as possible.
More: Your Guide to Eating Greens
7. Replenish your protein stores.
Replenishing protein regularly helps rebuild muscle tissue. You should have anywhere from 60 to 100 grams of protein each day. You may require more if you’re injured, or less if you are a lighter weight athlete or when training volume and/or intensity are low. As an endurance athlete you need about 1.5 and 1.8 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight each day.
Here’s how to figure out what amount you need:
- Divide your body weight in pounds by 2.2, this is your weight in kilograms
- Multiply your weight in kilograms by 1.5 or 1.8 (the lower amounts are for light athletes and diminished training times)
More: The Role of Protein in Exercise Recovery