Endurance Sports And Nutrition - Carbohydrates And Endurance Sports

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Endurance Sports And Nutrition - Carbohydrates And Endurance Sports
Endurance Sports And Nutrition - Carbohydrates And Endurance Sports

Video: Endurance Sports And Nutrition - Carbohydrates And Endurance Sports

Video: Endurance Sports And Nutrition - Carbohydrates And Endurance Sports
Video: Endurance Athlete Nutrition | Carbohydrates 2023, March

Nutrition & endurance sports

When exercising, you can think of your body as an internal combustion engine that works on a mixed fuel made from fats and carbohydrates. In principle, there is always a "side by side" of the two nutrients, but with flowing transitions depending on the intensity of the exercise and the level of training. At rest or with little physical exertion, the necessary energy supply takes place primarily through the burning of fatty acids. If the intensity of the load increases, the engine burns more carbohydrates…


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  • more on the subject
  • Advice, downloads & tools
  • Stock up on carbohydrates
  • Protein in endurance sports
  • "Positive" stress for the body
  • What endurance athletes should look out for

However, carbohydrates are only available to a limited extent in the body. If the load lasts for a particularly long time, the engine will increasingly switch to fat burning. Fat deposits are only attacked during these longer periods of stress. In the case of extreme loads, proteins are also used to generate energy.

Stock up on carbohydrates

In contrast to fats, carbohydrates can only be stored to a limited extent in the body. They are stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver and are sufficient for about 60 to 90 minutes during intense physical activity, depending on the level of training. The extent of this storage can be positively influenced by nutrition - shortly before intense stress or, for example, competitions, this storage can be filled beyond the normal level through targeted measures (see carb loading, supercompensation). In endurance sports, a diet rich in carbohydrates and low in fat is recommended, in which at least 55 percent of the daily energy intake is covered by carbohydrates.

In order to achieve such a carbohydrate content in the diet, the following high-carbohydrate and low-fat foods are recommended in endurance sports:

  • Grain products such as bread, pasta, rice, cereal flakes, muesli etc.,
  • Legumes, potatoes, vegetables and fruits,
  • Carbohydrate-rich snacks / desserts such as (dry) fruit, (wholemeal) biscuits, cereal or fruit bars, fruit bowls or purees or pudding.
  • Carbohydrate drinks such as fruit juice diluted with water.

Note Even athletes should use sweets, pastries, household sugar, jam, etc. sparingly, as the nutrient density in these foods is low.

Protein in endurance sports

While protein is mostly associated with weight training, it is also an important nutritional component in endurance sports. Under very intensive and long loads such as a marathon or with a daily training workload of over 90 minutes (weekly training time> ten hours), the body uses not only carbohydrates and fats but also proteins (proteins) to provide energy.

Note The body also uses protein as an energy source during extreme endurance performance. In weight training, protein is less a source of energy, but rather serves to maintain and increase muscle mass.

If the additional energy requirement is covered by a varied and balanced mixed diet (see Austrian food pyramid), the increased protein requirement is automatically covered. It is helpful to look for good sources of protein in your diet. These include, for example, animal foods such as lean meat, fish, eggs, and low-fat milk and dairy products. Plant-based foods such as legumes, potatoes and grains also contain high amounts of protein.

The combination of different protein sources results in a higher protein quality, ie the body can convert and use them more effectively. Good combinations are, for example, beans / corn (salad, stew), potatoes / milk (puree), potatoes / egg (casserole) or wheat flour / egg (pancakes).

You can find more information at:

  • protein
  • Protein supply with vegetarianism

Note For safety reasons and because there are no data on long-term increased protein intake, the upper limit for protein intake is set at 2.0 grams per kilogram / body weight.

"Positive" stress for the body

Sport is a kind of stress for the body, but the positive effects far outweigh the effects. During intense physical exertion, there is an increased release of free radicals due to the increased oxygen turnover and inflammatory reactions. If these are not adequately compensated for in the body, oxidative stress occurs. A sufficient supply of vitamin C, vitamin E and precursors of vitamin A (β-carotene) is therefore particularly important for athletes, as these have an antioxidant effect. In order to ensure an optimal supply of these vitamins, a lot of fruit and vegetables are recommended, especially if you are sporty.

What endurance athletes should look out for

  • Eat high in carbohydrates and low in fat.
  • At least 55 percent of your energy should come from carbohydrates. Under exceptional conditions, the proportion can rise to up to 80 percent for a short time (see “Carboloading”, attention: Not suitable for permanent nutrition!)
  • Complex carbohydrates from whole grain products, bread, pasta, legumes, potatoes and muesli are best for satisfying hunger and eating enough.
  • For longer training units (> 90 min.), Beverages containing carbohydrates or small meals should be consumed shortly before and / or during the start in order to avoid a drop in performance ("hunger rest"). Drinks with glucose / dextrose, sucrose or maltodextrin (obtained from starch) as well as grape sugar, fruit slices, bars, dried fruits, bananas, white bread etc. are suitable, for example, very fructose drinks as they can cause intestinal problems.
  • For short-term replenishment of empty glycogen stores directly after training or competition, drinks or meals with single or double sugars can be used.
  • Drinking is the most important thing in sport, so start early. This reduces performance restrictions. Isotonic drinks etc. are not absolutely necessary.
  • Eat enough fruits and vegetables, at least five servings a day. One portion can be drunk as a smoothie, for example. Substitute preparations (food supplements, etc.) are not required.

Further information is available from:

  • Lose weight in problem areas
  • Nutritional supplements in sports
  • Calculate energy requirements

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