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Daniel Rowland

Daniel Rowland

Sep 23, 2022
26 tweets

NUTRITION FOR ULTRAS In previous threads on preparing for UTMB and lessons from UTMB I only touched briefly on nutrition. In this thread my intention is to pull together a range of resources and ideas to assist with nutrition for ultramarathons. (1/n)

Nutrition is a difficult topic because there are evidence-based recommendations, but they are not always followed. In this paper we see that elite athletes did follow guidelines (71g/hr CHO):… (2/n)
Yet, this study of amateur athletes doing 24 and 48 hour races they did not meet recommendations (mean of 33g/hr CHO):… And this paper on pre-exercise nutrition showed a large number of athletes not following guidelines:… (3/n)
To understand these evidence-based recommendation, a good starting point is @Asker Jeukendrup 2011 paper on nutrition for endurance sports:… (4/n)
Outside of these studies and guidelines we see athletes succeeding in endurance events using a wide range of different nutrition strategies. Maybe a good starting point is to ask: 1) WHAT'S POSSIBLE? (5/n)
There are examples of athletes succeeding with nutrition strategies ranging from very low CHO to very high CHO, from all-liquid sports nutrition to only real food, from carrying their own nutrition to only relying on aid stations. (6/n)
The context of these different results and different strategies is quite important and can contribute to defining what is possible: 1a) modality - eating and digesting is easier in cycling compared to running and easier in running compared to swimming. (7/n)
1b) duration - eating a certainly hourly rate is easier in a 4-5 hour event or as an elite running 14hrs at Western States compared to an amateur at UTMB or an athlete during a 24 or 48 hour race. (8/n)
1c) accessibility - food availability for an elite with a crew or an athlete at a 24 hour race is very different to a self-supported athlete at an ultra with few aid stations. Clearly "what's possible" may not always meet the recommendations even if that is the goal. (9/n)
2) FUEL THE WORK REQUIRED In this paper the authors recommend a periodized approach to nutrition in training: And this article explains a "right fuel, right time" approach to nutrition:… (10/n)
Race nutrition should also follow the "work required" paradigm. A shorter ultra at high intensity may necessitate more exogenous CHO intake than a long, low-intensity ultra where fat oxidation can be relied on more heavily. (11/n)
3) TRAINING NUTRITION INTAKE If the logistics of the race allow it, and the intensity demands it, then using a high CHO approach can be the right solution. However, our gut needs to be able to tolerate this approach. (12/n)
This 12-week guide from @Aitor Viribay Morales is an excellent resource on gut training:… And in this twitter thread there is plenty of advice on gut training:… (13/n)
Alternatively, if you want to increase your fat oxidation to use a lower CHO approach you will also need some adjustments to your diet and training nutrition. This guide suggests that may be more beneficial than training the gut:… (14/n)
Whichever approach you choose, it's important to make sure that you do the training necessary for that approach and that you don't do something new on race day. (15/n)
4) HIGH CHO + EXAMPLES The potential to use a high CHO approach in mountain ultras along with the benefits were shown in this paper:… There have also been many examples of World Tour cycling teams using up to 120g/hr CHO. (16/n)
Stian Angermud has shared his race nutrition from Sky races and he was consuming ~100g/hr: (17/n)
Petter Engdahl shared his CCC nutrition and he consumed ~120g/hr of drinks and gels: Tom Evans reported that for UTMB he used ~95g/hr of mostly Maurten and Red Bull. (18/n)
5) MID-RANGE CHO EXAMPLE According to the data shared in this post: My calculation for Kilian's nutrition during his races this year was: Hardrock = ~55g/hr UTMB = ~75g/hr (19/n)
6) LOW CHO EXAMPLES Zach Bitter has reported using 40g/hr during his races (primarily 100mi). Jeff Browning has reported using 40-50g/hr during his races (primarily 100mi). Dan Plews reported using 50g/hr during the bike and a total of 40g during the run in Kona. (20/n)
7) RESOLVING GUT ISSUES Nausea and/or vomiting is the primary cause of a DNF at ultramarathons: Therefore figuring out a nutrition strategy that works for you is vital. (21/n)
If you are struggling with stomach issues, then a very useful resource is @Patrick Wilson book: (22/n)
8) PRACTICAL TAKEAWAY A good place to start is the evidence-based recommendations of 60g/hr CHO. If you know the intensity of your race is going to be high and you have access to your own in-race nutrition, considering increasing CHO intake. (23/n)
Increasing CHO intake will require training and practice at race intensity. We've seen up to 120g/hr for a 10hr ultra and up to 95g/hr for a 20hr ultra are possible. If you're having stomach issues or the pace of your race is lower... (24/n)
...consider either trying to resolve these issues using the Athletes' Gut book (mentioned above) or start working towards a low CHO strategy. Again this will take training and time to develop. (25/n)
All of the points in this thread, along with the information from the previous two threads on preparing for UTMB, can be found on my blog:… I hope you find this useful. (/end)
Daniel Rowland

Daniel Rowland

My goal is to curate a timeline full of research and insights from coaches, scientist and athletes to help us become better endurance athletes. #HRV4Training.
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