The Core Of Ultra-Marathon Nutrition

The Core of Ultra-Marathon Nutrition

Energy Demands and Dietary Adaptations

Ultra-marathons pose extreme energy demands on athletes. It's crucial to meet these demands with a personalized and periodized nutrition strategy, emphasizing a diverse, food-first approach. This approach should be adaptable, catering to various phases of training and racing.

Gastrointestinal Considerations

A significant challenge for ultra-endurance athletes is managing exercise-induced gastrointestinal symptoms. Strategies such as a diet low in FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) and repetitive gut challenges have shown promise in alleviating these issues. These strategies focus on reducing the intake of certain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and can ferment in the gut, causing discomfort.

Practical Tips for Ultra-Marathon Runners

  1. Individualized Energy Plans: Each runner's caloric needs are unique. Tailor your diet to your training and racing demands, focusing on high-quality carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

  2. Hydration Strategy: Proper hydration is essential. Plan your fluid intake before, during, and after races. Pay attention to electrolyte balance, especially in longer and hotter races.

  3. Pre-Race Nutrition: In the days leading up to the race, focus on meals rich in complex carbohydrates for glycogen storage. Ensure adequate protein for muscle repair and recovery, and keep fat intake moderate.

  4. During the Race: Experiment with different foods and drinks during training to find what works best for you. Energy gels, chews, bars, and even real food can be effective, depending on individual tolerance.

  5. Post-Race Recovery: After the race, focus on replenishing glycogen stores with carbohydrates and repairing muscles with protein. Hydration should continue to be a priority.

The Research Perspective

Recent studies emphasize the importance of personalized nutrition strategies to manage the unique challenges of ultra-marathons. Research highlights the need for a holistic approach, considering energy demands, gastrointestinal health, and individual dietary preferences.


Ultra-marathon nutrition is a dynamic and personalized aspect of an athlete's training and racing regimen. By understanding the fundamentals of energy demands, hydration, and gastrointestinal health, and combining these with practical, personalized strategies, runners can optimize their performance and enjoyment of ultra-marathon events.

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