Placeholder What to eat when competing in endurance sports Holland & Barrett

What to eat when competing in endurance sports

Qué comer al competir en deportes de resistencia

You're asking a lot of your body, so it's important to give it the fuel it needs to achieve your goals. Whatever sport you're about to take up, whether it's a hike, a bike ride or a marathon, what you eat will help or hurt your bottom line and will have an impact on whether you make it to the finish line.

Sport Nutrition

Eating well and staying hydrated is vital to helping you perform well, reducing the risk of injury and ensuring your recovery after completing the event. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is the key to success.


Carbohydrates are the main source of energy that the body will use to fuel exercise and sporting events. It is easily stored in the body as glycogen or glucose, for quick and effective use when exercising.

The reserves are used to power your muscles and you to the end. Low amounts of glycogen stores can cause muscle fatigue and make it impossible to complete high-intensity exercises.

Many athletes increase their carbohydrate consumption (carbohydrate loading) in the days leading up to a big event, when they reduce their training to ensure there is enough glycogen available to fuel their body when the event arrives.

Carbohydrate loading is recommended for those competing in events that involve 90 minutes or more, at a rate of 10 to 12 g per kg of body weight. Carb loading also delays the onset of fatigue by about 20%. Include bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, beans and legumes in your training diet.

Plus, they're packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber that will benefit your overall health.


Protein is a vital part of a training diet that is used to help the growth and repair of body tissues such as muscles.

Endurance athletes will need between 1.2 and 1.7 g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day in their diet. For example, a person who weighs 77 kg will need between 92.4 and 130 g of protein per day.

This can be achieved by eating your regular meals or through sports supplements such as whey protein.


An essential part of any diet, fats help the body absorb nutrients and are a great source of energy; however, they should be consumed in moderation to avoid excessive weight gain.


Staying hydrated is essential for both performance and recovery. We all know that when we exercise we lose water through sweat, so replenishing these levels to avoid dehydration is vital.

Extreme water loss through sweat can cause fatigue and hinder overall performance. Opt for plain, plain water or sports drinks.

The golden rules for preparing for a marathon

Don't overload yourself

Many runners have the mentality that the more food, the better the day before a marathon. As already mentioned, it's imperative to make sure your carb stores are full and replenished, but overeating can make you feel uncomfortably full and increase the slowness of your reduction.

Adding a couple of sports drinks to your day will help you increase your carbohydrate intake by about 100-150g without giving you that full, sluggish feeling that oversized bowls of pasta produce.

Be prepared to gain some weight, as for every gram of glycogen stored, you also store 3g of water.

Keep it simple

Nutrition should be tailored to your goals and body type, and some people have a stomach that can tolerate anything. But if you're not sure what you should or shouldn't eat, it's best to keep things simple.

Eat your largest meal at lunchtime the day before the race and have something easy in the evening, such as fish, roast potatoes and salad.

Avoid anything high in fat, as this can cause stomach problems later. On marathon morning, keep in mind that anything high in fat or protein will take longer to digest than carbohydrates.


You don't have to be surgically attached to your water bottle for 24 hours before the marathon. Be sensible and make sure you are well hydrated and that your urine is light in color.

On race morning, drink 300-500ml when you wake up and take small sips before the race to avoid queuing for the portaloo. Also think about your environment, if it is hot you will have to pay even more attention to hydration.

Plan ahead

See what time you want to have breakfast (ideally three hours before the race) and if you need to bring a snack (banana/energy bar) to have one hour before the race starts. If you're staying at a hotel the night before, be sure to call ahead to see if they'll accommodate you or just bring your own supplies. Always keep in mind that sometimes things don't always go as planned, so think about ways to cope with this if it happens.

Marathon shopping list


High in monounsaturated fat and protein, studies show that eating a handful of almonds a week could dramatically reduce bad cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease. BCAA These three amino acids are essential for increasing strength and endurance, and help with energy production and prevent fatigue syndrome - essential if you are planning a monumental race!

Wholemeal bread

Experts recommend 100 percent whole grain bread for marathon participants, as whole grains help balance cholesterol and are a perfect source of carbohydrates.

Try it toasted topped with peanut butter and banana for a great morning breakfast.

whey protein

The fitness industry no longer thinks protein powder is exclusive to bodybuilders – protein recovery is essential for all types of athletes who want to increase their performance and aid recovery.

Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is excellent for post-workout recovery, as it contains minerals such as manganese, copper and magnesium that help promote proper blood circulation and muscle contraction.

This article has been adapted from longer articles appearing in Healthy for Men, Holland & Barrett magazine. The advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Consult your GP before trying any remedy.

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