Fueling for Intense Workouts

I’ve been trying to decided how or if I’m going to change my nutrition intake for the next 18 weeks. For the most part, I think I’m going to keep it simple and similar to how I’m eating now. I’m definitely going to pay attention to my water intake and make sure I hydrate properly. I’m also going to play around with my fuel intake during my long runs. As long as I’m getting in enough carbohydrates, it basically comes down to experimenting with the different types of fuel (gels, blocks, candy) and when I eat them. Here are some recommendations regarding fuel intake when participating in intense workouts typically lasting longer than an hour.


Approximately 1 hour prior to an intense workout session, you should have a small carbohydrate snack. Examples might be banana, small bowl cereal, 1/2 bagel, etc. If you have a sensitive stomach, it might be a good idea to stay away from high fiber foods and coffee. I personally cannot run with a lot of food in my stomach, so I typically eat a banana about 40 minutes prior to my long run and sip on some coffee. The coffee doesn’t bother me. I recommend trying different foods/beverages to see what works for you.

During exercise

It’s a good idea to take in carbohydrates, electrolytes and fluids for intense workouts lasting longer than an hour. I recommended consuming 30-60 gm carbohydrates/hour. If you can handle an increase amount of times you take in fuel, try taking in ~ 50 calories (1/2 gel, 2 blocks, 8 oz sport drink) every 15-20 minutes. Personally, I eat an energy gel about 4.5 miles into my long run and continue to take in fuel every 45-60 minutes. Right now, this strategy works for me. I will of course adjust the amount and time of fuel intake based on my how my long runs turn out. I recommend figuring out what works for you. Some people prefer to eat gummy bears, packets of honey, blocks or sport drinks. I would stay away from foods high in protein and fat, since it takes your body longer to digest them and they do not provide the energy your body needs for high endurance.

How to Fuel for the Long Run Energy Gel


Consume a meal of carbohydrates and protein approximately 30 minutes after an intense workout. If you are unable to eat 30 minutes after working out, try having a smoothie/shake with carbohydrates and protein 10-15 minutes after your workout then eat a small meal 60-90 minutes later. Consume normal meal and beverage intake to restore hydration status. Drink 2 cups (16 ounces) of water for every pound lost.

I know I’ve said this several times through out this post, but seriously figure out what works for you through trial and error. Everyone has a different tolerance level and what works for me might not work for you. Just make sure you are taking in enough energy and fluids for optimal performance.

Red heart

Do you prefer gels, blocks, sport drinks or candy?

---I prefer gels because I do not like to chew and run at the same time. I also do not like sport drinks during my long runs. After my runs, I don’t mind them.


  1. I do think its important to play around - i found out early that I cannot stomache anything before I run or I get bent over on the side of the road cramps. But I do make sure to eat like a king for breakfast :)

    1. Kailey, thanks for the comment. I'm the same way. I cannot eat anything or drink a lot of fluids right before a run. My stomach cramps and I feel really slow. I like to wake up an hour before my long runs, so that I can have something small to eat and drink. An hour gives my stomach plenty of time to settle before my run.

  2. I am a work in progress when it comes to finding out what I need for fuel. I have to eat something pre-run, usually toast w/ nut butter and 1/2 banana. It's the during run fuel that I have trouble with. I'm experimenting with different things to see what works. So far, I've got nothing!

    1. Gu worked for me last week. I find it difficult to eat and run at the same time. I'm always gasping for air. I'm hoping it will get easier with practice.

  3. I prefer GU and not the shot blocks. I've used all before, but GU works best for me. When I was working out at my gym, I once forgot to bring GU so I grabbed some Mini Twizzlers and they did the trick :)

    1. I prefer GU too. Chewing while running is too much work for me. Twizzlers are a great substitute.



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