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What nutrients do endurance runners need?

Endurance runners have specific nutritional needs to support their training and performance. Carbohydrates play a vital role in providing energy for endurance exercise.

1. Carbs: Research published in Sports Medicine emphasizes the importance of consuming adequate carbohydrates to fuel endurance training and replenish glycogen stores. Recommendations suggest aiming for 6-10 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight per day.

2. Protein: Protein is crucial for muscle repair and growth. Endurance runners require slightly higher protein intake than sedentary individuals to support recovery and adaptation. The recommended daily intake of protein is 1.2-2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight for endurance athletes.

3. Healthy fats: These are essential for endurance runners as they provide a concentrated source of energy. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, walnuts, and chia seeds, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and aid in recovery. Including a variety of unsaturated fats in the diet is beneficial for overall health and performance.

4. Vitamins and minerals: Endurance runners also need to ensure adequate intake of vitamins and minerals, particularly iron and B-vitamins. Iron is necessary for oxygen transport and endurance performance. Consuming iron-rich foods like lean meats, legumes, and leafy greens is important to prevent iron deficiency. B-vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin, contribute to energy production and the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats.

Overall, the nutrients needed by endurance runners encompass a variety and balance of nutrients at each meal. This will allow athletes to perform at optimal levels.


  1. Thomas, D. T., Erdman, K. A., & Burke, L. M. (2016). Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116(3), 501-528.

  2. Burke, L. M., & Hawley, J. A. (2017). Swifter, higher, stronger: What's on the menu? Science, 357(6350), 906-907.

  3. Jeukendrup, A. E., & McLaughlin, J. (2011). Carbohydrate ingestion during exercise: effects on performance, training adaptations and trainability of the gut. Nestle Nutrition Institute Workshop Series, 69, 1-12.

  4. Rodacki, C. L., Rodacki, A. L., Pereira, G., Naliwaiko, K., Coelho, I., & Pequito, D. (2012). Fish-oil supplementation enhances the effects of strength training in elderly women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 95(2), 428-436.

  5. Sawka, M. N., Burke, L. M., Eichner, E. R., Maughan, R. J., Montain, S. J., & Stachenfeld, N. S. (2007). American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Exercise and fluid replacement. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 39(2), 377-390.

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