How to Improve Your Cardio Endurance With Nutrition

How to Improve Your Cardio Endurance With Nutrition

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If you're an endurance athlete, you understand that the right nutrition can make or break any training session or competition. Diet, hydration and supplementation all play a key role in your performance. If you are looking for ways to improve your sports performance, consider tweaking your diet or adding supplements to increase your game.

Step 1

Fuel up with a balanced, healthy diet before and after training. According to American Fitness Professionals & Associates, optimal performance of each type of muscle fiber -- both slow and fast twitch -- is supported by a diet of 60 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent fat and 10 percent protein. Use fresh whole food sources such as lean proteins, whole grains and fresh produce. Stay away from packaged foods that contain a lot preservatives and additives.

Step 2

Consume simple carbohydrates during exercise. Carbohydrates are the body's preferred source of energy, but your muscles and liver have a limited amount of glycogen reserves to fuel exercise. During endurance activities, it's a good idea to take in carbohydrates at planned intervals to keep a steady stream of energy coming in, replacing what you've burned. Energy bars, gels and drinks all provide simple carbs to aid in energy production. Your requirements will vary, depending on your fitness level and physiology. David Morris, chairman of United States Sports Academy, suggests an hourly intake of 40 to 60 grams of carbohydrate during endurance sports.

Step 3

Drink electrolyte beverages at regular intervals. As you exercise and sweat, your body loses glucose and sodium. A sports beverage containing simple carbohydrates and electrolytes will help replenish lost nutrients. Water is fine for exercise in moderate climates that lasts less than 60 minutes. Longer training sessions or those in hot environments should be supplemented with electrolyte drinks.

Step 4

Supplement with L-carnitine. This naturally occurring amino acid plays a key role in lipolysis, or fat metabolism. A 2004 study in "Molecular Aspects of Medicine" found that L-carnitine helps the body release stored fat into the bloodstream and then transports these fatty acids to mitochondria, creating energy to fuel endurance activities. If you choose to take L-carnitine, the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University recommends a daily dose of 500 to 1,000 mg.


  • It might also be helpful to add other supplements to your diet that can help boost endurance nutrition, including caffeine, l-tyrosine and beta-alanine. Caffeine will boost energy and performance by reducing fatigue and helping the body utilize fat as energy. L-tyrosine can be helpful for increasing endurance performance in hot environments. And according to a 2010 study in "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise," beta-alanine increases the L-carnitine levels in muscles, delaying fatigue and neutralizing acid buildup.
  • Many factors come into play when determining the best endurance nutrition plan for you. Age, gender, body mass index, fitness and environment all affect your energy requirements. It may take some trial and error to find the best formula for you, so be patient.