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Appetite for Knowledge

Eating for Endurance Sports

Whether your favorite activity is running, cross country skiing, or another endurance sport, there are lots of factors that go into performing your best. Training right, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy diet are all important. But with some planning, your nutrition doesn’t have to be a chore. Learn more about what you should eat for endurance sports training, and you can create a meal plan that’s easy to follow and will fuel your workouts and recovery.

Stick with the Science

What exactly is the best diet for endurance training? This can be tough to figure out, as there’s lots of conflicting information out there. One of the confusing issues is the conflicting information on low-carb vs. high-carb diets. There’s lots of advice on eating a low-carb diet for fat loss and muscle building, but you may have also heard about endurance athletes eating high-carb diets. So which is right?

The Importance of Carbohydrates

As an endurance athlete, you need carbohydrates to fuel your workouts. Going on a low-carb diet does not give you the carbohydrates you need to get the most out of each workout and make progress with your training. The only time that it would be okay to eat a low-carb diet would be in the off-season, when you’re training less and aren’t as focused on quality workouts. But during your race season, it’s better to eat enough carbs.

Well Balanced Diet

Other than getting enough carbohydrates, what should you eat? A well balanced diet that includes all the food groups is best. Creating your own MyPlate daily checklist is a good place to start. You’ll get a list of how many serving of each food group to eat, and then can make adjustments depending on how much you’re training.

Timing Your Intake

Once you figure out how many servings of each food group you need, you can think about scheduling your meals and snacks around your training. You want to make sure to eat some carbohydrate before your workouts, and eat carbohydrates and protein after workouts for recovery. If you’re training in the morning, this may mean you eat a small breakfast before your workout and a snack immediately after. Or if you train in the afternoon, make sure to eat a snack before you head out. After your workout, you can eat dinner for your recovery meal, or eat a small snack if it’s going to be a while before dinner. Following this type of meal pattern will help you recover from your workouts and be ready to go again the next day!

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Extension Educators:
Shelley Balls – (307) 885-3132
Denise Smith – (307) 334-3534
Vicki Hayman – (307) 746-3531

University of Wyoming | College of Agriculture and Natural Resources | Extension

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Issued in furtherance of extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kelly Crane, Director, University of Wyoming Extension, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Wyoming Extension, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming 82071.

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