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Now that the weather is cooler, many athletes are ramping up their training for Fall endurance events such as a marathon, century bike ride,or tennis tournament. If you feel confused about how to maintain energy during extended exercise, use this handy guide as a tool to figure out your target intake. Because each person’s body responds differently to food during exercise, experiment during training, observe the benefits (or costs), and tweak accordingly!


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Carbohydrate intake

during exercise

<45-60 minutes--

A pre-exercise meal (oatmeal) or snack (banana) will do the job to keep you adequately fueled during the workout

Exercise 1-2.5 hours30 to 60 grams carb/hour

Consume 120 to 240 calories of carbs in the form of sports drinks, gummy candy, gels, dried pineapple, banana, and other commercial or standard foods

Exercise >2.5 hours60 to 90 grams carb/hour

For long events like an 100 mile bike ride, Ironman triathlon, or trail run, target 240 to 360 calories per hour from a variety of carbohydrates, including fruit, chocolate bars, and cookies, as tolerated. 


To avoid “flavor fatigue”, include not only sugary sweets (sports drinks, candies and gels) but also peanut butter and honey sandwiches, beef jerky, granola bars, chicken broth, cheese sticks, and other foods that offer savory and salty flavors. Be sure to experiment during training to figure out what you can tolerate!


Fuel wisely and have fun. There's no need to hit the wall!




For more information: Nancy Clark’s Sports NutritionGuidebook, Food Guide for Marathoners, or Cyclist’s Food Guide.

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Nancy Clark RD CSSD

Nancy Clark RD CSSD

Member since: Jul 8, 2007

Hi! I specialize in nutrition for exercise, and help active people figure out how to manage food, weight, exercise, energy and enjoyment of eating. Let me know if you have any questions!

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