Fueling Your Runs:
Optimal Carbohydrate & Protein Intake for Before, During, & After a Run
Proper nutrition is essential for runners to optimize performance and enhance recovery. This blog post aims to guide runners on the ideal intake of carbohydrates and protein before, during, and after a run. We will explore the research-backed recommendations to support your training and help you achieve your running goals.
Carbohydrate Intake: Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for endurance activities like running. Research suggests that adequate carbohydrate intake is crucial for optimizing performance and preventing fatigue during exercise. A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that consuming carbohydrates before exercise improved endurance performance compared to a placebo (Cermak et al., 2013).
Before a Run: Aim for a pre-run meal or snack that includes easily digestible carbohydrates to provide immediate energy. Consuming 1-4 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight 1-4 hours before exercise is a general guideline (Kerksick et al., 2018).
During a Run: For runs lasting longer than 60-90 minutes, consuming carbohydrates during exercise can help maintain blood glucose levels and sustain energy. Aim for 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour, either through sports drinks, gels, or easily digestible snacks (Thomas et al., 2016).
After a Run: Post-run, replenishing carbohydrate stores is crucial for recovery. Consuming 0.8-1.2 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight within 30-60 minutes after exercise aids glycogen replenishment and muscle recovery (Kerksick et al., 2018).
Protein Intake: Protein plays a vital role in muscle repair and recovery. Research indicates that adequate protein intake is essential for optimizing muscle protein synthesis and minimizing muscle damage. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that consuming protein before and after exercise promoted muscle recovery and adaptation (Aragon et al., 2013).
Before a Run: Consuming a small amount of protein before a run can help initiate muscle protein synthesis. Aim for 15-20 grams of protein in your pre-run meal or snack (Kerksick et al., 2018).
After a Run: Post-run, consuming protein is crucial to support muscle repair and recovery. Aim for 20-30 grams of protein within 30-60 minutes after exercise. Good protein sources include lean meats, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and plant-based proteins (Thomas et al., 2016).
Remember, individual needs may vary based on factors such as body weight, intensity, and duration of the run, and personal preferences. Consulting with a registered dietitian or sports nutritionist can provide personalized recommendations based on your specific needs and goals.
Quick advice from my friend Bri from Genewise Nutrition - Integrative & Function Nutrition
Proper nutrition, specifically carbohydrate and protein intake, is vital for runners to fuel their workouts, optimize performance, and support recovery. Research supports the importance of consuming adequate carbohydrates before, during, and after a run to maintain energy levels and replenish glycogen stores.
Additionally, including protein in your pre- and post-run meals/snacks aids in muscle repair and recovery. By incorporating these guidelines, you can enhance your running experience and achieve your goals while promoting overall health and well-being.
Cermak, N. M., van Loon, L. J., & Gibala, M. J. (2013). Nitrate supplementation's improvement of 10-km time-trial performance in trained cyclists. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 23(5), 522-529.
Kerksick, C., Harvey, T., Stout, J (2018).
Thomas et al., (2016).
Aragon et al., (2013). Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition
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