Carbohydrates for runners

08 August, 2018 Nutrition

Carbohydrates are the main energy source of the human diet. And runners in particular need a lot of carbohydrates, because your muscles are fueled mainly by carbohydrate when you run.

However, just like fuel for your car, the type of carbs is very important to ensure your body is well maintained and performs at its peak. You wouldn’t pour E10 petrol into a Mercedes Benz, would you? At the same token, you wouldn’t eat large portions of cake and pizza if you want a personal best in your next race.

Immediately before, during and after exercise, high glycemic (GI) carbs are best which are fast-acting at restoring your energy levels as they have been depleted from your run. Here are 3 of my favs:

  1. Bananas (I have after a workout) - one large banana has 31g of carbs)
  2. Energy bars (I have before and/or after a workout) – choose bars that are high in carbs, moderate in protein, and low in fat and fiber. The one I have is Clif Bar (Crunchy Peanut Butter is my favourite)
  3. Sports drinks (I have during a workout)– 600ml of a Gatorade has 36g of carbs plus they contain electrolytes and water for hydration.

All other times, get your carbs from low glycemic foods that provide long lasting energy and are full of other nutritents needed for recovery. I go for:

  • Rolled oats – perfect for pre or post run breakfast. 100g gives you an enormous 55.3g of carbs.
  • Brown rice – Whole grains are better for you than refined grains like white rice because they contain more fibre, vitamins and minerals.
  • Whole wheat pasta – gives you more nutrients, energy and promotes less fat storage than regular pasta.

In terms of how much carbs you should have, on your training days you’ll have 25-30% more than a non-training day. And as a rough guide, most males will benefit from 2 palm sized worth of carbs and females, 1 palm size per meal.

If you feel like it’s not enough or too much, PM me and I’ll let you know exactly how much carbs you should have per meal.