With so many sports nutrition products and fueling guidelines on the market today, it can be confusing to know what’s best for the long haul. And while endurance athletes thrive on raw data when it comes to aerodynamics, professional bike fits, and training zones, it’s all too common to let a data-supported endurance fuel plan fall by the wayside until race day is imminent. Then we scramble to find the perfect blend of sports nutrition to keep us going until we charge across the finish line. But often it’s a case of too little planning, too late, with a disappointing finish, or worse, a DNF (did not finish).
Determining how your body prefers to burn fuel is valuable information for endurance athletes. Why? When you’re competing in events longer than 3-4 hours, getting your carbohydrate (CHO) intake right is key. If you don’t take in enough, you risk running low or depleting your CHO stores—which means you might also be risking a DNF (did not finish). But if you take in too much, your gut will shut down; leaving you feeling bloated and nauseated. Neither scenario plays out well in the end.