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Coach Paul Duncan’s tips for improving nutrition as an endurance athlete


There are many obstacles when it comes figuring out how to get the most out of an athlete’s body. The biggest obstacle seems to be figuring out how to eat in a way that will be beneficial to athletic success. Endurance athletes tend to really struggle with this.

The biggest problem is that there are so many fad diets out there that no one knows what to follow anymore. So many complicated choices. It doesn’t need to be all that complicated. Here are a few tips on how to approach your daily diet.

  • When you are not working out, focus on eating REAL foods. Very simple. Plan your meals around eating lean meats, whole fruits, whole veggies, and a few nuts and seeds. Stay away from foods that serve you no purpose or nutritional value (empty calories) such as refined carbohydrates (rice, pasta, etc..)
  • Hydrate. The number one cause of poor performance is due to something as simple as dehydration. As a rule of thumb, take half of your bodyweight in pounds, and consume that many ounces of fluid per day in addition to what you consume during your workouts. Example — a 160lb athlete should be drinking a minimum of 80 ounces a day of fluids.
  • Grains and refined carbs. Stay away from these unless its within an hour or so before a workout, during a workout or immediately after a workout. Any other time, they are of no benefit to your body.
  • During workouts, aim to consume 0.5 grams (of carbohydrate) or more per pound of body weight per hour while riding, and a little less than that while running. Consume enough sodium to replace the amount you lose in sweat based on your results from sweat testing, or a general rule of thumb is about seven to eight mg of sodium per gram of carbohydrate. Make sure to always fuel your workouts well. This is not the place to skimp on calories, ever. You should avoid fat and fiber during workouts.
  • After all intense or long workouts should be followed with a carbohydrate-based recovery drink with protein as the secondary macronutrient. The ration of carbs to protein should be around 3:1 or 4:1.
  • Eat protein at night. I recommend that you have a little bit of protein right before bed to help facilitate muscle repair and help keep you full and in a fasted state for less time.

These are general guidelines, but remember every athlete is different. If you need further help in this area, I am always available to answer questions. I also recommend working with someone that can help address your specific needs. Consider checking out THE CORE DIET if you want more help as well.

Until next time…

Paul Duncan is a United States Army veteran, triathlon coach, and triathlete racing for Team Every Man Jack. Paul lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Find out more about him at www.paulduncanjr.com and www.outstripendurance.com