The Do's and Don'ts of Fueling During Your Runs


Product Choices

Currently the fueling market is replete with virtually every kind of product, and you might even have GU packets, Honey Stinger gummies and Cliff Blocks in your cupboard at home. It can be overwhelming to choose, but trial and error is without a doubt the best way to determine what is best for you.

More: 7 Training Tips for Your First Half Marathon 

Carbohydrates react differently in each athlete and some of these supplements serve very specific purposes. Products such as HammerGel and others that contain protein will slow the rate of sugar absorption, critical for those who have issues related to hypoglycemic spikes (very common in endurance athletes).

More: How to Fuel Like Olympian Gwen Jorgensen 

Quick Tip

"Simple sugar, with a quick rate of absorption, is exactly what most athletes need during longer periods of exercise."
Which would make 1972 Olympic Marathon Gold Medalist Frank Shorter's choice of flat Pepsi as fuel appear to be well ahead of its time. 

In recent years a handful of companies have been experimenting with corn starch as a "slow release" option for those looking to save reserved fat stores for later in their workouts. One product, Generation UCAN, is now used by more than a dozen professional running and cycling teams for just this reason. While slower release products may require athletes to supplement with more traditional fueling options (for more rapid absorption) later in runs, more runners are finding that corn starch in a slower release format allows the body to defer fat storage utilization instead of depending on the quick burn of sugar. 

A Final Note on Cortisol: The Enemy of Every Athlete

Quick Tip

Cortisol is released when athletes have long periods of time without any caloric intake.
Cortisol is a stress hormone which is catabolic (i.e. destructive) to lean muscle mass and bone. As Americans, we too often follow the schedule of little to no breakfast, a small lunch and a massive dinner in which 75 percent or more  of our daily caloric intake is received in a 60 to 90 minute window. 

As you plan for your 2018 and 2019 training and racing, first implement an eating schedule which involves more frequent, smaller meals. "By eating smaller amounts of food throughout the day you will have higher energy levels and will actually create more lean muscle mass due to reduced cortisol levels in the bloodstream," says Dan Benardot, Professor of nutrition from Georgia State University. 

READ THIS NEXT: 21 Foods That Will Fuel Your Marathon Training 

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