Why should you practice fuel consumption
You train for speed, endurance and strength before you start a race, gradually increasing your distance and pace to make sure you’re ready for the miles. But sports dietitians confirm that most runners neglect one vital area of interest during training, and that’s your gut.
“Your digestive tract is not used to running and eating at the same time. The constant up and down motion of running, coupled with blood flowing from the intestine to the working muscles, usually results in a stomach wonky,” says marathon runner Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, registered dietitian and founder of Greenletes in New York City. your gut to accept the fuel it needs.
The more you practice, the better your gut will be able to handle the energy it needs, says Angie Asche, MS, RD, CSSD, Lincoln, Nebraska-based registered dietitian and owner of Eleat Sports Nutrition. For any training run over an hour, consider trying out your race day nutrition strategy. This means eating the breakfast you would have on race day and consuming the mid-race supplies you will have at structured intervals throughout your miles. Practicing your plan should then help you fine-tune your fueling on race day.
Because we all have different body sizes (and, therefore, energy needs) as well as gastrointestinal (GI) tracts, the best eating strategy is different for each person. However, a study published in 2021 in Nutrients and a review published in 2017 in Current Opinion in Gastroenterology recommends that if you notice stomach upset or diarrhea while running, avoid the following for two hours before and during a run:
- Dairy products
- Sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners
- Foods with a higher proportion of fat or protein than carbohydrates
- Anything with 5 grams or more of fiber
How to prepare your digestion for race day
Pre-game with care
Aim for at least 1 gram of carbs per kilogram of body weight in your pre-race meal. (For a 180-pound runner, that’s about 82 grams of carbs.) If you have time, the goal is to eat three to four hours before a two-hour or longer run, aiming for 3 to 4 grams of carbs. per kilogram of weight.
If you only have two hours to eat before heading out, go for 2 grams per kilogram of body weight. To help a 180-pound person hit their carb goal in the hours before a run, Megan Robinson, MS, RD, CSSD, a sports dietitian in Paoli, Pa., suggests grabbing a large bagel with nut butter and a fruit smoothie (made with 1 large banana, 1 cup berries and 1 cup almond milk) three hours before your run. Then, one to two hours before departure, consider having a sports drink with 60 grams of carbs and 2 ounces of pretzels.
It is the right time
Aim for around 30-60 grams of carbs for every hour of running after the first 60 minutes. Consider dividing up these carbs so you can snack every 30 minutes. (For reference, 20 ounces of a sports drink, gel, or medium banana provides about 30 grams of carbs.)
“That said, the best way to train your gut is to start with a smaller amount of fuel and work your way up to the amount your body needs,” says Rizzo. “Use long workout runs to start with that smaller amount, like 8 ounces of a sports drink, half a gel, or half a banana. Once your stomach can tolerate the smaller quantity, add more fuel To gradually increase your fuel consumption, try doubling your mid-term snack every two weeks until you reach your final goal.
To reduce the risk of stomach upset, acid reflux, or diarrhea, drink enough water to prevent dehydration, especially with chews or gels. “These all contain a large amount of carbohydrates for their size, and if you don’t get water while ingesting them, it can lead to stomach cramps,” says Robinson. This is because water leaves the body and enters the intestines to dilute the sugar, and without more H2O you can become dehydrated or have gastrointestinal upset. As a general rule, aim for 4 to 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes.
Plug into what’s not working
Your body will tell you clearly if your gut isn’t having a good time. Gas, bloating, stitches, diarrhea, nausea, and upset stomach can all indicate danger. If your stomach is fine, but you notice yourself getting upset, increase the carbs before you run. “Some runners we work with aim for 4 grams per kilogram of bodyweight four hours before the race,” adds Asche. You can start with that 1 gram of carbs per kilogram of bodyweight before the run (and make sure you have enough fuel halfway through) and see how your final kick feels, adding more carbs if needed. .
Feed your good gut bacteria
On rest days and short errand days, try to eat foods that support gut health. “Fermented foods, like yogurt, kefir, miso, sauerkraut and pickles, are rich in probiotics that help build a healthy gut,” Rizzo says. Fiber can also help prevent constipation. Simply increase fiber and probiotic intake slowly to avoid gastrointestinal upset.
4 Gut-Friendly Fuel Options
While the best fit for your fuel is individualized, those who struggle with gastrointestinal issues tend to have better luck with sports supplements that contain two types of sugar, like glucose and fructose, rather than just one. . “Each type of sugar uses a different receptor in the bloodstream, so the body can absorb them quickly without causing gastrointestinal issues,” says Rizzo.
If you prefer whole foods, try orange slices, dried cherries, or dried figs, all of which contain at least two natural sugars. For a packaged product, consider these dual-sugar selections:
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