mrmacken

Endurance Athletes: What Do You Eat?

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Hi there! I just finished my first whole30, and am planning on sticking with this wholesome way of eating for a long time. I love it! However, I'm still trying to figure out how to fuel for long workouts.

I'm very athletic, usually doing long cardio workouts 3-4 days a week, either cycling or running. My runs are usually somewhere between 4-10 miles, and my bike rides are typically between 30-50 miles. I'm training for a 13-mile Spartan Race in September. I also train a little bit with my college's cycling club, and compete in a few Women's C Collegiate Cycling competitions in the spring.

So my question is, what does a day of food for paleo endurance athletes typically look like? Most of the discussions on this forum are about shorter, high-intensity workouts like crossfit or lifting. I do crossfit about 3 days per week, but I think I've figured out how to successfully fuel myself with protein and fat for that. But I've noticed that low-carb breakfasts make my morning rides and runs soooooo slow. So I'm really curious about ideal quantity of food, carb intake, and timing of meals for endurance training with a paleo diet.

I read Paleo Diet for Athletes, which has some very good concepts, but Loren Cordain recommends using a lot of gels and sports drinks. I'm hoping to figure out how to have rides and runs as strong and fast as they used to be before going paleo, but without resorting to processed sports foods.

Before going paleo, I'd normally eat toast and peanut butter before a long bike ride, and I'd eat gels and/or sports drinks (like Cytomax) during. Then typically a sandwich for lunch when I get back. But yesterday I went on a 33-mile (2.5 hour) ride in the morning, and here's what I ate throughout the day:

7am breakfast: 1 sweet potato, 2 poached eggs

8am bike ride. I filled my water bottles with 2/3 coconut water, 1/3 water, with a pinch of salt.

At mile 20, I had a banana

11am post-workout snack: 1 sweet potato, ~4oz turkey

1pm lunch: ISWF curry (1/3cup coconut milk and curry paste) with ~8 oz roasted leg of lamb, 1/2 green pepper, and a sliced zucchini. 8 oz kombucha.

5pm snack: 2 large carrots, 1/2c macadamia nuts

7:30 dinner: ~8 oz chicken, 1cup green beans roasted in ghee, lettuce and tomato salad with ~2tbsp olive oil and balsamic vinagrette

9pm snack: 2cups berries

This day was pretty successful for me; my energy levels were pretty solid throughout the entire ride. But man oh man, throughout this process of figuring out the whole paleo thing, I have had a lot of runs and rides that have left me insanely more fatigued than I ever felt before going paleo.

So for all you other endurance athletes out there, what do you eat? How do you fuel yourselves before, during, and after workouts, and throughout your entire day? Is it possible to be purely paleo and have just as much energy as you would with gu, cytomax, powerbars, toast, pasta, etc?

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I will be done soon with a Whole 30 and am also training for an Olympic distance triathlon and some running races. While on the Whole 30 I have been using coconut water and bananas to fuel longer rides. Once I am done I will probably add in Nuun tablets, lara bars, and something like these

http://turtlewoman.h...-and-Paleo-Diet .

I usually only need stuff on the bike if I am going much over 2 hours. Nuun tablets are always useful in the heat though even if its a shorter ride.

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This is a tough one since coming up with whole, natural foods on the go to fuel a workout is so not supported by the "performance fuel" industry. Your diet you showed above looks spot on and it isn't surprising you had success that day. Steamed turnips and cauliflower blended with some ghee is also a nice starchy addition post-workout along with your protein. It can be made in advance and keeps a few days. So tasty!

Pemmican is handy during cycling since it tends to not bother the stomach. I would not use it running though. Sweet potato with ghee is excellent during a long run. Just like a gel. Coconut meat with nuts is great too. But nothing replaces experimentation with your own system. I've thought I was going to just pass out a couple times until I realized I need way more food than I used to. Good luck!

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Thanks guys... Looking for tips...

I am mid way through my Whole30 and have a sprint tri next week. I did a practice mini tri this week and BONKED hard! It was awful. So I am pretty worried about how to fuel for my race. I am just in it to have fun and finish.. Not a competitor... Still an athena... But I also don't want it to be painfully hard.

I used to eat oatmeal in the am before a race, with milk... Then use gu and power shot type things to get me through the race. Not sure I can do eggs that early in the am... But a sweet potato/pork hash sounds good.

Anyways, any other during pre-race suggestions would helpful. Thanks!

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I am in marathon training --- before my long runs, I have been having 2 HB eggs, coconut milk in my coffee, and 1/2 avocado. During my long runs, I have been having great luck with coconut water and dates stuffed with homemade cashew/almond butter. If you choose to do the dates, you make the nut butter, spoon it into a ziplock bag, cut off a small corner and then squeeze it into each pitted date (I fill it from both ends to get the most into it I can). I will then wrap 1-2 dates at a time in wax paper (like how caramel candies are wrapped). I keep all of them inside a ziplock bag of its own so that if any of the nut butter oozes during my run, the mess is contained. I also keep them in the freezer until I leave for my run. Post-long run, I'll have 1/2 sweet potato and a can of tuna. I know that doesn't sound very appetizing but its my best/quickest option for lean protein, as I have a 3yo & 5-month old to tend to as soon as I get home. I'm also going to start getting all-natural/organic sweet potato baby food pouches for quick post-WO carbs as well, instead of having to steam a sweet potato each time.

I have also started using nuun tabs... I break them each into 4 pieces and chew them throughout my run. They have artificial sweeteners in them, so they're non-W30 (I'm not currently in W30), but its been at 100% humidity and low 70's for all of my runs over the last several weeks, so they have been somewhat necessary. I chew instead of put them in my water because of the sweetener - in case it has a negative effect on my stomach, I haven't sacrificed a bottle of water. I got this idea from ultrarunnergirl who posts throughout the forums.

Hope this helps!

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Btw, Marks Daily Apple has a post on "How to Fuel a Marathon". He discusses a "train low, race high" technique in regards to carbs... Train on lower carbs and then on the days leading up to your race and the morning of your race, increasing carb intake. I've definitely been "training low", and I have my first of two 20-mile runs next Saturday, so I'm going to experiment with a sweet potato pre-run and see how it affects my 20-miler and my energy through it.

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I found a bike endurnce product that is close to whole30 and the guy at the shop said it is like baby food and another that has some nut butter and honey that he said you have to squeeze to pre mix like adams peanut butter because it seperates. Saving that one for after whole30. I will post what I use aftermy race. But looks like eggs and sweet potatoes will be the way to go. I am thinking of trying a whole30 larabar type recipie I found too that is just dates and nuts.

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I am glad I found this. I am doing the Whole 30 and have concerns with training and racing. I am an endurance athlete and I am currently training for a 70.3 triathlon. My biggest concern is intake during the long runs and rides. It looks like coconut water is popular. I will add this to my bottles since I have stopped using the skratch. Anyone ever used almond butter packets? In place of GU? Just curious. I also thought about using applesauce packets, or the fruit/veggie combo pouches. Thoughts??

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I think salt is one of the most important considerations for endurance events.  I did my Spartan Super (8ish miles, 2k vertical, maybe 3 hrs - I forget) with a few dates rolled in Himalayan salt.  That worked :)  

 

Back in my half ironman days (10 years ago, eating furtherest from W30 one could imagine) I hardly ate anything while racing or training (due to awful cramps) but I always took my salt pills.  That whole train low race high thing worked for me though...I did one half ironman on 1 bottle of water, the insides of 2 fig newtons (the cookies crumbled and fell as I was trying to eat them on my bike) and an orange slice at a water station on the run.  That was it.  I dropped my gatorade bottle on the bike too... and had rear flat tire - bad day for me!  Now of course I had eaten a Dunkin Donuts bagel with cream cheese and diet Pepsi before the race...

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My first race if the season is in March. I will have completed the whole 30 by then. I am using coconut water, baby food pouches and almond butter. I do take in Base salt. It seems I am holding watts better on the bike and my swim and run have both taken a nice turn. I don't know if I can go back to GU! I know if I am going to go full distance again, I may have to. So far, so good. Plantain chips are my friend when I need a crunchy salty snack!

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I am following these posts! I am doing my third full ironman this sept. i tried 2 years ago to eat all natural (half ironman that year) and it was not good. so difficult to do my own gels, etc so last year i said forget it.. back to gels, etc. Now here i am trying to shed excess weight and get rid of some bad habits that returned during a stressful last year with a big move and daughter graduating, going to college, and so on... Anyways I am refocusing my life around my nutrition and miss being on the Whole 30 so I am back! I am trying to pick up as much tips since to succeed this year gel free!!

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On day 22, and I think I've finally figured out some things that work so I figured I'd share. It's ski season out here, so most of my weekend adventures are 4-6 hour ski tours. Can be hard to take in calories on the uphill, but there's usually time to eat some solid food before going downhill. Normally I am a small and steady snacker-- 1 honey stinger chew or 1/2 shot blok every 20-30 minutes sits better in my stomach than a 2 shot bloks every 45-60 minutes, like the package suggests. 

This month, I've been using a couple of things to replace that, and it's going pretty well. For packaged products, I've found the clif organic energy food (disclaimer-- I got some for free) to work pretty well. there are savory flavors and sweet flavors. the savory flavors aren't compliant as they have cane syrup and quinoa in them, but the sweet ones are (banana coconut mango and banana beet ginger). they're basically baby food, which is something I also buy and take with me. I just need something I can take small 'sips' of every 20 minutes. I've also made my own using mashed sweet potato, cashew butter, coconut oil, and water, and put it in gel flasks. 

Dates and cashews, epic bars, compliant pepperoni, oranges, apples and almond butter (justin's plain packets are awesome!) have been good longer break snacks that are still easy/relatively light.

Post whole30, I'm going to experiment with reintroducing some of the feed zone portables. if you haven't seen that cookbook its AWESOME-- there are some recipes that are almost compliant, but as long as white rice doesn't bother my stomach, I think it's worth it when I'm exercising since I know I'm using so much glycogen. However, I'd like to stay away from gels for as long as possible!

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I cycle 3times a week between 2 and 6 hours. Definitely the amount of carbs I eat depends on intensity and not time out. A long hilly ride drains the glycogen more than a flat ride.

My breakfast are usually bacon and egg with fruit if I'm going to be at the more intense end of the heart rate. Coconut oil for pre long rides, either neat spoonful or made into a block with cocoa powder and almond butter.

During rides I drink water and eat only for the last few hours if it's over three hours. Usually take a jacket potato or sweet potato and salt it well. (I tried freezing some so I had a supply Don't they go mushy! Dreadful idea).

I take jerky for a bit of a change and if it's cool take fat bombs made with coconut oil. I fill my pockets with baby food style pouches of application sauce too. You can get Salomon squeeze tubes and make applesauce and put in them.

Post workout

Just eat normal foods.but eat protein soon. If your female it will lower your testosterone and stop your hair thinning. If you like me are post menopause you'll need that!

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I am a 54 year old endurance athlete who is training for a aquabike ....1.2 swim and 112 mile bike.  I want to begin the Whole30 in August but am not clear how to fuel my body for 2-4 hour bike rides.  This is the time I can experiment so I invite all thoughts and suggestions.    I am excited about the W30 but am nervous about how I will maintain the intensity of training.

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Hi @Jules36  This has been discussed at length on this forum.  Your best bet is to use google and search 'whole30 endurance athlete'.  I have merged your thread with a popular one on the same topic but in doing the search suggested, came up with numerous additional threads.

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9 minutes ago, sofierunschicago said:

During my last marathon I loved and swore by Hammer Gels. I'm looking to find a gel that include real ingredients. Does anyone have input or advice on whole 30 options to fuel my long runs?

Gels are not considered a compliant or recommended item, I can't imagine you would even be able to find one that was Whole30 compliant. That said, we have many endurance athletes that do Whole30

I've merged your topic with a popular one on the same topic.  If you would like to search the forum, google is the best way.

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I'm looking for recipes/ideas for fueling my body during bike rides. My rides range from 3 to 14 hours in duration and are at a pretty high intensity. Normally, I use a lot f sugars and carbs. 

Thanks!

Slacker

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2 hours ago, Slacker said:

I'm looking for recipes/ideas for fueling my body during bike rides. My rides range from 3 to 14 hours in duration and are at a pretty high intensity. Normally, I use a lot f sugars and carbs. 

Thanks!

Slacker

Google is the best way to search the forum.  This topic has been discussed at length.  Search 'whole30 endurance athlete' for many threads with this information.  I"m combining your topic with a popular one on the same topic.

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