5 Nutrition Tips for Endurance Athletes

Post by Paula Jahn, Dietitian and Co-owner of Nourish Northwest

The Shamrock Run is approaching! This year, we are teaming up with LifeWise of Oregon for the pre-race Fitness Fair at the Convention Center. Stop by the LifeWise booth on March 15 or 16 to taste a wholesome treat and to enter a drawing to win fitness classes at our studio! The fitness fair is open to the public, so check us out even if you’re not participating in the run.

If you are an endurance athlete (props to all you 15k-ers!), proper nutrition is essential to your performance. Follow these 5 nutrition tips to perform and feel your best on race day.

1. Hydrate! Drinking the right amount of fluids before, during and after physical activity is vital to providing your body with the fluids it needs to perform properly. The overall goal is to minimize dehydration without over-hydrating. Watch for early signs of dehydration such as flushed skin, thirst, increased perception of effort and premature fatigue. Try weighing yourself before and after an event or training and replace what was lost.


Hydration is key!

2. Plan a pre-race meal or snack. Test your pre-race meal during training to ensure tolerance. Eat 2-3 hours before the race and plan to eat about 1 gram of carbohydrate per pound of body weight plus a small amount of protein. It’s a good idea to keep fat and fiber to a minimum, as they slow digestion and can cause stomach cramps.


3. Consume adequate protein. Protein helps build and repair muscle and aids in fluid balance. Protein needs for an endurance athlete are about 0.6-0.8 grams per pound of body weight. For example, a 150 pound person who is training moderately might need about 105 grams of protein per day (150 lbs x 0.7).


4. Refuel. Consume a balanced snack or meal within 15-60 minutes after an event or training. An ideal ratio of carbohydrate to protein is 4:1.

Examples of a balanced meal/snack include:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt + 1 cup berries (30 grams carbohydrate:9 grams protein)
  • Sprouted flourless whole grain toast + 2 Tbs almond butter (20 grams carb:6 grams protein)
  • ¼ cup hummus on whole grain pita bread (27 grams carb:7 grams protein)
  • 3 medjool dates +2 ounces of cheese (54 grams carb:14 grams protein)


Recharge with the perfect balance of carbs and protein.

5. Keep it real. It is tempting to buy into the hype of energy drinks, gels and snack bars. While marketed well, these products are often full of processed sugar and artificial additives and are ultimately unnecessary. Whether training or not, good nutrition centers on real, wholesome foods.

Real food is best.

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