If you are participating in endurance exercise that lasts longer than 1 hour, it can be helpful to include some carbohydrates during your exercise. This has been found to help athletes run longer and harder during endurance activities and stop-and-go sports. Eating carbohydrates during exercise is particularly helpful when you have low levels of muscle glycogen.
How Can I Meet My Carbohydrate Needs While I exercise?
To maximize performance, it is recommended to consume 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour. Many people tolerate fluids better than solid foods when they exercise, but you must know what your body tolerates best. Any of the following items would provide an adequate amount of carbohydrate:
- 24 oz sports drink containing 6-8% carbohydrate = 42-57 gm carbohydrate
- Banana = 30 gm carbohydrate
- Sport Bar = 47 gm carbohydrate
- 2 Gels = 50 gm carbohydrate
- 3 Large Graham Crackers = 66 gm carbohydrate
When choosing foods to eat during a competition, remember that protein and fat can delay gastric emptying, which might not be tolerated well by some athletes.
For fluid needs during exercise, refer to Hydration for Athletes.