Updated: Nov 10, 2022
I know what you’re thinking… Carbohydrates?
Carb-phobia is real, we need to scrap the old notion that ‘carbs are bad’ or
‘carbs make you fat’.
Contrary to what Scott Pilgram taught us, bread doesn’t make us fat.
Carbs are king, especially when it comes to fuelling for your runs. So if you
want to get the most out of your runs, then you’ve come to the right place.
Carbohydrates in simple terms are ingested, broken down, stored as glycogen
and used as a fuel source. We need this fuel to live and function day to day,
let alone exercise.
The greater the intensity and duration of your run, the greater the need for
carbohydrates. Our bodies switch to higher reliance on carbohydrates as a
fuel the longer we are running for. If they aren’t given, exercise fatigue sets in
(amongst many other things).
Carbohydrates, depending on the athlete and type of running can be
incredibly useful pre, during and post runs. If you really want to improve your
running consider experimenting with the timing and amounts of carbs around
your sessions, for example:
Pre run snack 10g-30g of carbs ie dates, banana, toast.
If your runs are going over an hour, this is where you need to start looking at carbs during the session.
Post run aim to get a 3-4:1 ratio of carbohydrates:proteins.
The exact amounts and timing are going to differ according to each person.
But have a play around with it or if you want to get serious book in with a
health practitioner that works in the sports nutrition area.
Post exercise a lot of the hype and focus is on protein. Which is great, but
carbs are often left out of the equation. They are SUPER important at this
time. A high priority is placed on replenishment of fuel stores through carbs
and your post workout meal/ snack should reflect this.
After all training sessions, getting those carbs in ideally within 30 minutes after
your run is important. This is not the time to avoid carbs, your body is primed
and ready to use carbs more efficiently after training. And it needs them.
Delaying eating after exercise leads to fewer glycogen stores being made
from the food and a decline in energy levels for the day. That is when those
sugar cravings start to kick in, as our body is tired and the brain is hunting for
a quick energy hit.
Bergstrom et al. (1967) Acta Physiol Scand completed a study that showed
individuals with a high carbohydrate diet performed considerably better, for
longer periods of time than any other diet.
A decline in the body’s carbohydrate stores can cause fatigue and impair
performance both physically and mentally. And an increase in glycogen stores
from a high carb diet is associated with increased endurance exercise
capacity. Basically, carbs and running can be best friends if you let them.
So what are some signs you’re lacking carbohydrates/ have low glycogen
Irritable/ Mood swings
Inability to concentrate
If you struggled to absorb the above information, because you’re depriving
your body of the glorious carbs it wants and deserves, then just take the
below basis away with you:
Carbs + Exercise = Good.
Bergström, J., Hermansen, L., Hultman, E. and Saltin, B. (1967), Diet, Muscle
Glycogen and Physical Performance. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, 71: