Understanding Good Nutrition for the Endurance Athlete

January 22, 2024

When it comes to achieving optimal health, endurance, and longevity in sports, focusing on nutrition is paramount. Proper nutrition is a vital element in realizing your full potential as an endurance athlete. If you do not eat according to your goals, how can you expect to achieve them?

To begin, it's important to understand the purpose and benefits of fueling well. Take a look at the following list to better understand how nutrition plays a critical role in health, performance, and longevity within sports and life:

  1. Meet the energy and fuel demands to support training and racing.
  2. Achieve and maintain a healthy body composition - for good health and good performance.
  3. Optimize training, recovery and adaptations.
  4. Injury prevention.
  5. Build and maintain a strong immune system.
  6. Maintain good health and reduce risk for chronic disease.
  7. Taper correctly before events / carb load for optimal performance.
  8. Enjoy what we eat! Eating what we enjoy in moderation and attaining and maintaining a healthy approach to nutrition for life.

With the goals in mind, let's get to the real meat and potatoes of what you need in your daily diet in terms of macronutrients, the recommended amounts of carbohydrate (CHO), protein (PRO) and fat.


Carbohydrate is the main source of fuel for exercise at high intensity (lactate threshold and above) and long duration (>60-75 minutes). It is essential we obtain enough CHO in our diet to sustain and maximize our training and racing.


  1. Light exercise activity (low intensity or skill-based activities):  3-5 g/kg/day
  2. Moderate exercise activity (~1 hour per day):  5-7 g/kg/day
  3. High exercise activity (1-3 hours/day of moderate to high intensity exercise): 6-10 g/kg/day
  4. Very high exercise activity (extreme commitment, 4-5 hours a day, moderate to high intensity):  8-12 g/kg/day


Protein is not a recommended fuel source during exercise. However, protein is essential for overall health and the repair and growth of our muscle tissue, among many other things.


  1. Maintenance:  1.6-1.8 g/kg/day
  2. Weight Loss/Muscle Gain:  2 g/kg/day


Fat is the major energy source for endurance exercise below lactate threshold and should be less than 25-30% of your total energy intake. Consider eating less depending on your carbohydrate and protein needs.

The topic of nutrition can be daunting to navigate. Counting macros often feels overwhelming and becomes quite tedious. Consequently, a good rule of thumb to remember for endurance athletes is to aim for at least 60% CHO, less than 25% fat and the remainder PRO, ~10-20%, within your daily diet.

For a sustainable, healthy and realistic relationship with food, it's important to develop a strong foundation of understanding. Once the foundation is built, adopt a more mindful approach to your daily nutrition. Instead of counting macros with every bite you take, focus on the percentages mentioned above to track and achieve your goals. Before you start any diet or exercise plan, it's always important to consult with your doctor, especially if you have any pre-existing conditions.

Let's Get Started!
I have the education, experience, passion and energy to help you accomplish your dreams.
Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.