Fuelling for Peaking Performance

These are 6 topics you need to understand to ensure you don’t make a basic endurance nutrition mistake.

1.    Keep fluid intake during exercise between 475-830 ml per hour.

This is a basic requirement, and often not followed due to lack of practice during training.

FACT: In general, most athletes, under most conditions, will satisfy hydration needs with a fluid intake in the range of 590-740 ml/hour – roughly the equivalent of a standard size small or large water bottle. Lighter athletes and/or athletes exercising in cool weather conditions may only require an intake of 475-530 ml/hour. Larger athletes and/or athletes exercising under very hot and humid conditions are the ones that can consider a fluid intake in the range of 830 ml/hour, perhaps up to 890 ml/hour in extreme conditions. It’s important to remember that regular fluid intake over 890-1005 ml/hourly significantly increases the potential for serious performance and health problems

For more detailed information please read;

HYDRATION: What You Need to Know
What Is Hyponatremia? Am I At Risk?

2.    Restrict caloric intake between 120-180 calories (502 – 753kJ)/hour during exercise.

For best performance, DO NOT follow the “calories out, calories in” advice given by some “experts.” Instead replenish calories in “body cooperative” amounts, allowing your fat stores to make up the difference. For most athletes, 120-180 calories/hour is the ideal range. Fewer calories per hour can be processed while running, so adjust accordingly. In very rare instances, larger athletes and hyper metabolic types may need slightly more calories per hour.

Workouts/races of 2 hours or less: choose a fuel with complex carbohydrates, not simple sugars (glucose, sucrose, fructose, etc.). Simple sugars cause energy peaks and crashes, and must be mixed in weak concentrations for efficient digestion. Complex carbohydrates absorb at about three times the rate as simple sugars. Plus you get steady, reliable energy—no peaks and valleys.

Workouts or races of 2-3-hours, or more: Fuel primarily with complex carbohydrates, not simple sugars. Also, 10-15% of your fuel’s calorie content should come from protein, ideally soy, to help satisfy energy requirements and prevent muscle tissue catabolism.

For more detailed information please read;

Less is Best – The right way to fuel
Proper Caloric Intake during Endurance Events

3.    Avoid simple sugars in your fuels; use complex carbohydrates only.

Simple sugars make your blood sugars go up very quickly then come down very quickly. These “ose” sugars give you energy peaks and crashes, and they also have a severe limitation in absorption (6-8% solution).

Complex carbohydrates give a smooth stable energy curve without the highs and lows of simple sugars. Complex Carbohydrates can also be consumed in higher concentrations than simple sugars (16-18% solution).

Anything that tastes sweet (sugar based) at the beginning of exercise will become even sweeter during exercise. This over sweetness is a deterrent to consumption, eventually leading to declining performance.

For workouts or races in the 2- to 3-hour or longer range, 10-15% of the calorie content in your fuel should come in the form of protein, ideally soy protein. This protein donation satisfies energy requirements more completely while helping to prevent muscle tissue catabolism (breakdown).

For more detailed information please read;

Simple Sugars and Complex Carbohydrates – An Incompatible Combination

4.    Electrolytes

Electrolytes are to the body as “oil is to a car”. Over long periods of exercise it’s vital to consume extra electrolytes in the right format. Electrolytes are not stored in the body, so need to be replaced consistently every hour.

Treat them like insurance, even if you don’t feel as though you need it, when you do it’s usually too late. If you have trained extensively for a race, you don’t want to leave this stone unturned to ensure you maximise your performance.

Supplemental electrolytes should be in a balanced formula (not just salt!) and be taken in amounts appropriate to the heat, humidity and personal metabolic characteristics of the athlete.

FACT: Sodium chloride (salt) is indeed an important component of electrolyte replenishment but it does not fulfil the entire requirements. Calcium, magnesium, and potassium should be replenished as well as all these minerals play key roles in the maintenance of many important body functions. Additionally, body weight, fitness level, weather conditions, acclimatization level, and biological predisposition all greatly affect electrolyte depletion and the need for replenishment, which is why a “one-size fits all” bottled drink or drink mix usually won’t work. Electrolyte depletion is widely variable, which is why the hourly Endurolytes dose can range from 1-6 capsules/hr. That being said, 2-3 capsules of Endurolytes hourly is a good starting point. Certainly there will be occasions when 1-2 Endurolytes will be completely adequate; on hot-weather workouts or races, it may be necessary to consume 5-6 Endurolytes hourly.

For more detailed information please read;

Electrolyte Replenishment

5.    Replenish your body with carbohydrates and protein as soon as possible after each exercise session, ideally within the first 30-60 minutes.

DO this and you will see a marked improvement in the following days training session. Make it a habit after ever session.

FACT: Equally important as your workout (muscle exhaustion and nutrient depletion) is what you do immediately following your workout (muscle repair and nutrient replenishment). If you neglect to “refill the tank” as soon as possible after your training sessions you’ll never get the full value out of all the work you just put in. Give your body what it needs immediately after exercise, when it’s most receptive to replenishment, and it will respond wonderfully-recovering faster, efficiently adapting to physical stress, and “learning” how to store more and more readily available fuel in the muscles.

For more detailed information please read;

Recovery – A Crucial Component for Athletic Success
Post-Exercise Meal: Carbs or Carbs + Protein?

6.    Nutrition Practice

This is something that is so fundamentally important, but can be completely overlooked until race day! Do not do that.

Whenever you have a long training session you need to be practising your nutrition not once but as often as you can. Practise will teach you allot about what your body likes and requires. Ensure you practise under as many different climate and terrain conditions as possible.

This practise will pay huge dividends on race day.


No, I don't want to download the brochure

Free eBook Download

Get a free eBook – Steve Born's world famous The Endurance Althete's Guide to Success.

Fill out your details below and download the eBook straight to your computer.

Yes! Please give me the FREE eBook "The Endurance Athlete's Guide to Success" and subscribe me to your newsletter list.