Site logo

Effective Ways How to Fuel Your Run

Proper nutrition for a run or marathon is all about the right types of nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fat) combinations, in the right amounts and timing to keep you mentally focused and fueled while keeping that nervous gut at bay.

With the upcoming Scotiabank Bluenose Marathon around the corner, whether you’re running your first 5k, 10k, or you are going for the full marathon, proper nutrition before, during, and after can make you feel like you’ve come FIRST no matter where you place!

It’s all about the right types of nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fat) combinations, in the right amounts and timing to keep you mentally focused and fueled while keeping that nervous gut at bay.

Lets review some of my quick tips on how to best fuel like a champion pre, during and post-race!

PRE-RACE NUTRITION– How to eat to maximize performance

Is Carb Loading for You? The simple answer is it depends…on how long you’re going to take to finish!

You can use this method to super-compensate your glycogen stores(or your gas in the tank). Glycogen, the major reservoir of carbohydrate in the Healthy Body, can store approximately 450-550 grams of glycogen within the muscle and liver for use during exercise. Can this then run out?? The answer is YES! But the good news is we can top them up prior to activity AND be diligent to fuel them back up DURING as well. Consuming ~7-12g carbs/kg Healthy Bodyweight (BW) for 2-3 days before the racehas been shown to fill up your energy tanks and keep exhaustion at bay! For example, if you weigh 60kg, you would need ~600g carbs per day for the ~2 days prior to the race, WHILE tapering activity. This does not mean eating all of the bread and pasta you want! Its about increasing your fruits, starchy vegetables and yes some grains (white is FINE!) at about 1-2 servings of each for about 2 days.

But Loader Beware…The MAIN Side effect of CARB LOADING: Some may find some gastrointestinal upset and a slight water-weight gain with the super-compensation and may just benefit from light taper while keeping their usual intake of adequate carbs in the days leading up to. BE SURE TO TRY IT IN TRAINING FIRST!

Are there any foods runners should AVOID eating pre-race?

Some athletes find it easier on their digestive system to ease up on fiber and FODMAP foodsin the few days prior to race day. What are FODMAPS? FODMAPSareshort chains ofsugars in certain foods that are rapidly digested and can be poorly absorbed, thus may upset the gut (causing bloating, gas, and stomach pain). FODMAPSinclude some foods/fruits higher in fructose, foods containing lactose, garlic, onions, and many sweeteners. Consult with your Sports Dietitian if you think some of these may be causing you some grief! Even still….with the nerves on high leading up to race events, it may be a good idea to ease off these types of sugars the few days prior to race day.

Think of eating bland and complex carbs with lean proteins!

MORNING OF THE RACE – Get in some long-lasting carbs and a wee bit of protein!

Try a Sweet Potato Smoothie!

This recipe is a perfect combination of nutrients for a pre-run fueler with 53 g of carbohydrates and 6 g of protein, while the almond milk, not having lactose, can aid in easier digestion compared to lactose found in cows milk for sensitive or stressed tummies. Lactose as mentioned above is a FODMAP sugar, albeit a natural sugar, some runners find can cause a bit of gas and bloating….something no runner wants during a run! The ginger and turmeric will also provide a boost of natural anti-inflammatories and antioxidants to help aid in recovery and ward off injuries!

BUT I would skip the flax just this time to keep it lowerin fiberwhich may increase gastrointestinal motility (or more washroom trips!). You can add in 1/3 coats for some added sustainableenergy.

Enjoy a 1 cup serving of thissmoothiewith a handful ofalmonds to munch on the drive in and you’re all set with the carbs and protein you need to power through the race!

DURING THE RACE- How to stay energized throughout and avoid “hitting the wall”

Will you finish your race (whatever the distance) in under ~90 min? Then all you may need will be some fluid (and maybe electrolytes) depending on hot/humid the day is and how much of a salty sweater you are! Try the below 100% Orange Florida Juice Sports Drink to help keep you well hydrated and provide you with the electrolytes lost through sweat. For individual recommendations (as everyone sweats at different rates at varying temperatures) consult with your Credentialled Sport Dietitian.

If your race will take longer than 75 minutes to complete, then you will need MORE than just fluid/electrolyte replacement. People who are well-trained or fit can store more glycogen to exercise harder and longer than those who are untrained or sedentary. A trained muscle can hold approximately 32 g of glycogen (or lasting about 20 min of running at a high intensity) per 3.5 oz of muscle tissue, where an untrained muscle only holds 13 g of glycogen BUT at a lower more steady pace, your stores can last up to 60-75 minutes!

So then, the KEY is to start refueling at 15-20min into the race, even though you may not feel like eating or hungry! The right types and amounts of sugars (carbohydrates) are needed to ensure optimal digestion rates. Mixtures of sugars (maltodextrins, sucrose) as opposed to foods that contain high amounts of fructose which can cause more stomach upset may be preferred. So try your during run foods out first!

Depending on your finish times, you may need anywhere between 30- 60g of carbs per hour! Yes, you read it right, 30-60 grams PER HOUR (and can even go as high as 90-100 g of carbs per hour in events longer than 4+ hours!). So how can you do this without carrying a cooler of foods on your back? A Sports drink such as the 100% Orange Juice Homemade Sports Drink with no added sugar can help meet those carbohydrate needs along with combining other sources of fast acting carbs in solid or sports foods such as liquid sports gel. ~

Here are some examples of food and fluid combinations to help meet those 30-60 g carbs….remember these are PER HOUR! So if you are predicting a 4 hour finish, that means 4x ~60 g. So mix and match or eat the same combos for each hour, whichever you choose, you need to ensure that you’ve met your requirements. I find small baggies with everything for the hour in it PLUS your 100% Orange Juice sports drink to keep it simple.

30 g Carb Option1       6oz 100% Orange Juice Sports Drink + 3 Medjool dates

30 g Carb Option 2      6oz 100% Orange Juice Sports Drink + ¼ c raisins

45 g Carb Option 1      6oz 100% Orange Juice Sports Drink + 1 Fruit source bar

45 g Carb Option 2      6oz 100% Orange Juice Sports Drink + 1 Sports Gel

60 g Carb Option 1      10oz 100% Orange Juice Sports Drink + 1 Endurance Tap Sports Gel + ¼ c raisins

60 g Carb Option2       10oz100% Orange Juice Sports Drink + 1/2 cup Cranberry Orange Snack mix


  • Combine 1 cup orange juice (OJ), 1 cup coconut water, and 1/8 tsp salt! The Homemade Sports Drink is EASY and its no added sugar with the natural sugars from 100% OJ and coconut water with a pinch of salt. PLUS you get the added bonus of other GREAT nutrients insidelike vitamin C, potassium and folate.
  • Vitamin C (link is external): Vitamin C is an antioxidant in Florida Orange Juice that may help support healthy skin, bones, gums and cartilage.
  • Potassium (link is external): Potassium is a nutrient in Florida Orange Juice may support muscle function and maintaining the Healthy Body’s fluids.
  • Folate (link is external): Folate in Florida Orange Juice is important for cell division and supporting healthy red blood cells.

To make the Cranberry Orange Snack Mix: check out:


This time is all about quick re-fueling and recovery, so … skip the beer (well…at least first)!

Instead, go for 25-30 g of high quality protein(Whey (in dairy), whole egg) PLUS ~100g of quick acting carbsWITHIN THE HOUR after you finish!

100% Orange Juice Protein Recovery Ballsare perfect for this. Just 3 balls + a 1 cup of 100% OJ will fit the bill! Convenient and no added sugar! Re-fueled, Re-hydrated, & Re-paired. Now you can go for 4th R: REST!

Just remember the golden rule: DO NOT TRY ANYTHING NEW IF YOU HAVEN’T TESTED IT IN TRAINING BEFORE! What works for one gut might not work for another…

For more individualized recommendations, you canBook an online appointment with Nutrition in Action to tailor your sports nutrition.