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4 Nutrition Rules for Endurance Athletes

Author: Rudy Mawer Contributing Author

A solid diet is a crucial part of any athlete’s program and most often will be the fueling factor that drives you to the front of the pack in your athletic pursuits. If you're cramming your schedule with intense training sessions but allowing your nutrition to fall by the wayside, you're bound to start losing ground on your end goal. To ensure you make it to the finish line, you'll want to optimize your nutrition and supplementation plans. 

Follow these four food rules to blast past the pack in your next race. 

1. Optimize Your Caloric Intake.

For your body to function optimally, you need to fuel up with enough calories. When you're running on too large a calorie deficit, performance will quickly nosedive. That's because too little in the way of calories hinders your body's ability to power through tough runs, properly recover, maintain lean muscle and keep hormones such as cortisol in check. 

To optimize your caloric intake, you'll first want to establish your daily needs. Start by taking your lean bodyweight and multiply it by 15. For example, a person with a lean bodyweight of 120 pounds would require 1,800 calories (120 lbs. x 15 = 1,800). Then, you'll add additional calories based on your level of daily activity. 

Sedentary Job: add 300–400 calories.
Moderate job:  add 500–600 calories.
Active Job: add 700–1000 calories.

Next, you'll account for any exercise you do daily. For every 10 minutes of intense exercise, add 100 calories. For example, if you train for 60 minutes, add 600 calories.

The formula is simplified but should put you in a slight calorie surplus, to provide your body with sufficient energy for performance and recovery.

The Takeaway:

Make sure you are providing sufficient energy for your body's needs by eating in a calorie surplus and focusing on nutrient dense higher-calorie foods.

2. Optimize Nutrient Timing

Decades of research has shown that timing of nutrient intake is one of the keys to better exercise performance. By providing your body with specific foods and supplements at the most critical times, you'll ensure you are getting the most out of your training.

Consuming carbohydrates before and during your workouts tops up glycogen stores and avoids depletion during longer training sessions. 

Eating a high-protein meal or drinking a protein shake, such as Re-Kaged, following your workouts spurs muscle protein synthesis and improves recovery. 

RE-KAGED™ - Support Muscle Building & Maximize Recovery with Post-Workout Anabolic Protein.

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Drinking an adequate amount of water, along with electrolytes, before and during your workouts helps to maintain proper hydration levels, fend against cramping, and improve performance. 

Taking beta-alanine, betaine, and caffeine, or supplement that contains a combination of the three, such as Pre-Kaged, before your workouts can also enhance your performance

The Takeaway:

Once you have the basic nutrients (protein, carbs, and fats) in place, focus on adding supplements to the mix at key times to support better performance and recovery.

3. Drink More Water

    Water is another critical piece of the nutrition puzzle. For years, research has proven that even a 2% drop in bodily fluids can negatively impact performance. Moreover, data has shown that the majority of endurance athletes are dehydrated starting most training sessions and races.

    To combat this, carry a large water bottle all day. Doing so will ensure you have access to water to sip on throughout the day. Aim to drink at least 75 ounces or more per day (about four large water bottles). To further support hydration, add Hydra-Charge to the mix. Adding this supplement to your pre- and intra-workout routines can help supply your body with beneficial antioxidants and electrolytes. 

    The Takeaway:

    Water intake is vital for proper muscle function, athletic performance, and overall health. Carry a large water bottle with you always, mixed with 1-2 scoops of Hydra-Charge to ensure you stay well hydrated.

    4. Take Supplements Backed By Science

    Supplements are an important part of any athlete's overall program, providing additional nutritional support to fuel hard training. Some essential supplements you'll want to consider, include:

    Beta Alanine:

    Works to buffer hydrogen ions and the acidity that builds up in your muscles (i.e. the burn), which applies to sprints, demanding hill climbs or while passing a competitor, etc. Consume around 2-3g of this supplement pre-workout, or as part of Kaged Muscle supplement regimen using Pre-Kaged and In-Kaged.

    Works to buffer hydrogen ions and the acidity that builds up in your muscles (i.e. the burn), which applies to sprints, demanding hill climbs or while passing a competitor, etc. Consume around 2-3g of this supplement pre-workout, or as part of Kaged Muscle supplement regimen using Pre-Kaged and In-Kaged.

    Citrulline:

    Citrulline plays an important role in nitric oxide (NO) metabolism and regulation. It acts as a buffer and blood flow enhancer, helping transport more oxygen and nutrients around the body. It's also been shown to enhance endurance-based exercise performance. 

    Caffeine:

    This supplement boasts over 200 studies supporting its performance-enhancing benefits. Caffeine acts on the body through several mechanisms, ramping up the central nervous system (CNS) to make you feel more alert and energetic, boosting metabolic rate, and can even encourage stronger muscle contractions. Take around 200-400mg about 30-60 minutes pre-workout. Start with a lower amount if you've never taken caffeine before or are sensitive to caffeine.

    Betaine:

    Betaine is a derivative of the amino acid glycine. It's an osmolyte, protecting cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress (e.g., low water, high salinity or extreme temperature). It has been shown to improve strength, power and muscular endurance. 

    You can find all of these ingredients in Pre-Kaged. Take this supplement 30-45 minutes before your workout, and In-Kaged during your training session, to provide your body with optimal amounts of these nutrients. 

    The Takeaway:

    Adding supplements to your nutritional regimen can give your performance a boost. Reach for supplements that list all ingredients and their amounts rather than hide them in proprietary blends. Choose supplements that contain patented ingredients to ensure you are getting quality, well-research ingredients. 

    References: 

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    Popkin, B. M., D'Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010). Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition Reviews, 68(8), 439-458.

    Szinnai, G., Schachinger, H., Arnaud, M. J., Linder, L., & Keller, U. (2005). Effect of water deprivation on cognitive-motor performance in healthy men and women. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 289(1), R275-R280.

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