Demystifying Sports Nutrition

Fueling During Races

Because our glycogen stores—the first and prime source of fuel for muscles—are limited, completing and competing well in endurance events is like constructing a puzzle that should be almost entirely intact the day you toe the start line. Futz with the various shapes and configurations during pre-race training, but that final piece is a ceremonial one that should fall into place when, bonk-free, you rocket across the finish line.

“Simple sugar is absolutely what an exercising person needs,” says Benardot. “I can’t think of a better thing because you’re dribbling it in at a rate where it’s not going to get too high and burning it faster than you can produce it.”

Because refined carbohydrates, such as glucose, sucrose and maltodextrin, are absorbed differently, Applegate recommends trying a mix of the three carbs at a rate of 30 to 60 grams, depending on body weight, per hour.

Easy-to-tolerate sources include gels, chews, sports beans or gum drops. She recommends drinking a quarter cup of fluid every 20 minutes or so, depending on sweat rate.

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