Trail Running Nutrition Plan

  • The bottom line of a nutrition plan is about 200-300 calories per hour.
  • It translates to 50 - 70 grams of carbohydrate ingestion per hour since carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram.
  • Normally body can only process 60 grams of carbohydrate per hour.

Below is an example nutrition plan for the final day. Source: Rei

When to eatTypes of foodExamples
Night beforeHigh carbs; low fiber, fat and proteinPasta
Bread
Fresh fruits and vegetables
Lean meat
Morning (2 hrs. before)Mostly carbs; a little protein OK
400-600 calories
Granola with berries
Bagel with peanut butter
Oatmeal with dried fruit
During run, under 4 hrsEasily digested carbs and sugarsEnergy gels
Energy chews
Fresh fruit
During run, after 4 hrsMostly carbs; add some protein
200-300 calories
Energy bars
Nuts
Nut butters
Beef jerky
Drink mixes that include protein
After the run, within 1 hourFoods high in protein; hydrate with electrolytesLean meats
Fish
Eggs
Beans
Fresh vegetables

Factors that can affect calories consumption

  • Intensity: more carbohydrate is used to fuel the activity when intensity reaches or beyond lactate threshold.
  • Duration: higher volume of carbohydrate (~90g/hour) is recommended for longer period (>2 hours). However, lower volume is recommended if duration is longer than 10 hours.
  • Fat adaptation: athlete who with enough endurance training can enhance the ability to utilize fat as fuel, thus reducing the dependence on carbohydrate as fuel.
  • Training of digestive system: more than 300 calories can be consumed and ingested if the digestive system is well-trained.
  • Heat and humidity

Reference: How Many Calories Should I Consume Per Hour?

Nutrition volume of some common foods

Below is a table of some common foods that are available at aid stations of trail running event. Source: nutritionix

FoodVolumeWeight (g)CaloriesTotal Fat (g)Total Carb (g)Protein (g)
Almond1013776.82.72.7
Cashew1016907.35.12.4
Peanut10105952.12.4
Banana11181050.4271.3
Rice1 cup1582050.4454.3
Snickers15728014354.3
Raisin1 box431290.2341.3
Dry fruits0.3 cup451100.2291.1
Peanut butter1 tbsp169483.93.5
Jam1 tbsp20560140.1
Bread1 slice25670.8122.2

For ease of comparison, below table has the weight of all the foods fixed to 50 grams:

FoodVolumeWeight (g)CaloriesTotal Fat (g)Total Carb (g)Protein (g)
Almond38.550.0296.226.210.410.4
Cashew31.350.0281.322.815.97.5
Peanut50.050.0295.025.010.512.0
Banana0.450.044.50.211.40.6
Rice0.3 cup50.064.90.114.21.4
Snickers0.950.0245.612.330.73.8
Raisin1.2 box50.0150.00.239.51.5
Dry fruits0.3 cup50.0122.20.232.21.2
Peanut Butter3.1 tbsp50.0293.825.012.210.9
Jam0.9 tbsp17.950.00.012.50.1
Bread0.7 slices18.750.00.69.01.6
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