When you are exercising for a long period of time you’ll need something to eat that will be both full of energy and easy to digest. Contrary to popular dietary beliefs, mid-run you won’t need protein and healthy fats (you should be eating these before your run) but fast-absorbing carbohydrates. These are foods that send sugar through your bloodstream to fuel any muscles that need them.
If you are running/exercising for less than an hour, you aren’t likely to need anything to eat – just plenty of water, but if you are exercising for more than an hour you should start eating 30-60 minutes into your run/workout, taking in about 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour.
What to drink:
When it comes to fluids you should look for drinks that replace essential electrolytes and keep energy levels high.
1. Coconut water is a great source of the five most important electrolytes (calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorous) and is easy to digest.
2. Salt water is ideal for those in a hurry and an easy way to replenish liquids and salts lost through sweating, simply add a teaspoon of salt to a bottle of water.
3. Sports drinks tend to be full of carbohydrates and sugar, which are ideal for endurance training.
4. Green tea and honey offers protein as well as sugar, and the green tea increases VO2 max – the body’s ability to use oxygen during exercise.
5. Sports gels are often used by long distance runners as they have everything you need in one, easy to eat on the run package.
What to eat:
In terms of solid foods you should be looking for items that are low in fibre and high in carbohydrates.
1. Bananas contain almost 30 grams of fast-digesting carbohydrates and can be as effective as sports drinks in terms of blood sugar and oxidative stress.
2. Raisins and any other dried fruits are another great choice, containing a high amount of calories without weighing down the digestive system.
3. Homemade energy bars are a clever way of combining different foods on the list into one tasty snack (we love this recipe for peanut butter chocolate granola bars).
4. Pretzels combine sodium and carbohydrates without making you feel bloated.
5. Frozen grapes are refreshing, high in sugar and easy to eat mid-run – great for keeping you cool on hot summer runs.
To find out more about how your diet can affect your sporting performance, please see our page on sports nutrition.
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