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Daniel Rowland



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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)

Anecdotal claims have suggested that an increasing number of ultramarathoners purposely undertake chronic low-carbohydrate (CHO) ketogenic diets while training, and race with very low CHO intakes, as...…

Competition Nutrition Practices of Elite Ultramarathon Runners

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)

The purpose of this study was to determine the self-reported beliefs and practices relating to pre-exercise nutrition intake among endurance athletes of varying ages and competitive levels and exa...…

Pre-Exercise Nutrition Habits and Beliefs of Endurance Athletes Vary by Sex, Competitive Level, and...

The purpose of this study was to determine the self-reported beliefs and practices relating to pre-exercise nutrition intake among endurance athletes of varying ages and competitive levels and exa...

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)

Daniel Rowland


Apr 21View on Twitter

Race nutrition during a 24hr run: "In-race CHO intake was only in the 30–60g/h range" "Strong to moderate positive correlations were observed between distance covered and both CHO and energy intake"…?

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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


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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