Drinking & eating before, during and after the long run?

How should we eat and drink before, during and after the long run?

Answer by Carlos Gomes Ventura

Science has already proved the benefits that a well-hydrated athlete has. It is important to have a balanced strategy for drink and food ingestion before, during and after big efforts.

Isotonic drinks replace more effectively the mineral and water lost through perspiration. To  re-hydrate quickly and completely, you need to ingest mineral salts, so it is recommended to drink the right amount of nutritionally-balanced beverages before exhausting long-duration exercises, like the marathon. This is important to keep the athlete well-hydrated before, during and after the effort.

Laboratory researches have confirmed that athletes who had ingested drinks had a lower internal temperature and a proper heart rate, as opposed to those who didn't drink. During running, it is advised that the athlete drink fluids, preferably isotonic, at regular intervals of time. Isotonic drinks facilitate transfer of nutrients and fluids to the blood stream.

High level of thirst means performance loss and exhaustion. Drinks like orange juice don't have too much sodium and have slow absorption. Coconut water also doesn't have too much sodium. Beer has high levels of calories, but it is not adequate since alcohol is a diuretic. Soft drinks, due to their high levels of calories, have slow absorption rates and their gases can cause discomfort.

Water - which constitutes 60% of male body weight and 55% of female body weight - is eliminated through perspiration, defecation and mainly by urination; and its levels in our body need to be immediately replenished. This precious liquid is an important portion of foods like oatmeal, fruits, eggs, low fat meat, cheese, milk; and the lack of some nutrients can break the organic balance.

It is essential that the ingestion of minerals and natural foods is combined with proteins, fats, carbohydrates. Among the minerals, I consider iron of particular importance, especially among female athletes. Iron can be found in liver, fish, broccoli. The lack of this mineral in the human body causes loss of endurance, particularly among women.

So, I recommend to athletes to eat 4 hours before the long run, drink balanced drinks while running it, and ingest light food straight after. These recommendations are based on my experience as coach, but I advise the athletes to consult a nutritionist or a sports medicine specialist.

Carlos Gomes Ventura
Phone: (11)3686-5384 and 4191-3490 - e-mail: cgventura@uol.com.br  


Answer by Luis Tavares

The meal before the long run must be rich in carbohydrates. I usually apply the carbohydrate super-compensation method with my athletes, which consists of eating just protein from Monday to Wednesday and then just carbohydrates until Saturday. What do we get with this? The body is devoid of carbohydrates and, subsequently, a higher capacity of carbohydrate storage. These higher carbohydrates stores will be our energy source during the exercise.

About drinking, it would be suggested to consume on average 2 liters of water daily, even if you are not thirsty.

While doing the long run, or the marathon, try to consume energy bars, carbohydrates gels, isotonic drinks and water. Remember that if you feel thirsty, then you are on the first step to being dehydrated. So, take precautions to avoid thirst.

After the long run, try to recover with a good liquid meal rich in carbohydrates. Orange juice would be a good choice.

Luis Tavares
Phone: (11)3159-8456 - e-mail: e.c.tavares@uol.com.br - site: https://www.ectavares.com.br Phone: (11)3159-8456 - e-mail: e.c.tavares@uol.com.br - site: https://www.ectavares.com.br

Answer by Joaquim Ferrari

The dehydrated body and the muscle glycogen stores reduction, are two of the main factors responsible for the performance decreasing during long duration activities. So, paying attention to controlling these factors is essential and has to precede the competition. It suggests a higher ingestion of carbohydrates on the days preceding the long duration exercise, as well as a higher ingestion of fluids with sodium. During the long run, or the marathon, you have to limit the fluids ingestion to 800 ml/hour, that is the maximum that the stomach can usually empty during this period of time. If you drink more fluids, then you maybe will have a sensation of full stomach. The liquids should be preferably ingested with carbohydrates in a solution near 5%. After the exercise, a blend of 50-100 grams of carbohydrates plus 20-30 grams of proteins will help the recovery and the glycogen stores re-synthesis.

Joaquim Ferrari
Phone: (21)2241-2581 - e-mail: jferrari@alternex.com.br - Website: www.joaquimferrari.com.br

Answer by Marco Antônio Pardal Delgado 


Eating: You should never do the long run without eating something before. The best thing is to do a light meal rich in carbohydrates and avoid fatty foods. Try to finish the last meal from 2:30 to 3 hours before the starting of the marathon or the long run.

Drinking: Avoid alcohol drinks, soft drinks or too much coffee, since they cause a false sensation of quenching thirst and dehydrate the body. 30 minutes before the beginning of the marathon or long run, it is advised to drink 400-500ml of water.


Eating: You may drink liquid glucose during long duration running, so you can keep the high levels of glucose in the blood stream.

Drinking: Drink 1 or 2 glasses of water each 15 or 20 minutes.


Eating: Consume carbohydrates straight after running in order to restore the glycogen levels in the muscles. It is advisable to eat a meal rich in carbohydrates.

Drinking: Immediately after running, drink water, juice or isotonic drinks in order to restore the loss of fluids. On the next day, try to drink about 2.5 liters to finish the replenishing the needed fluids.

Remember that we must pay attention to nutrition and drinking every day and not just near the races.

Marco Antônio Pardal Delgado 
Phone: (11)91077402 - e-mail: marcopardal@bol.com.br


Related articles:
Heart rate,
recovery, levels of calories, fats, carbohydrates, long run

This article has informational purpose and  isn't a substitute for professional advice.


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