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Are you confused as to how to properly fuel and hydrate during training and on race day? With all the sports fueling products on the market, it can be difficult to find the right one to match your specific needs.  Maybe you’ve been sidelined in the past by the pitfalls of improper fueling: dehydration, cramping, “bonking,” GI distress, under-fueling,   or uncontrollable cravings. Steer clear of these common fueling hazards with Susan’s easy-to-adapt expertise.



Daily macronutrient needs based on activity.

Daily activity                                    Carb intake     Protein intake   Fat intake

Day off or light activity               3g/kg                1.2-1.6g/kg           1g/kg

30-60 min- low intensity            3-5g/kg             1.4-1.6g/kg          1g/kg

60-90 min -low intensity            4-6g/kg             1.5-1.6g/kg          1g/kg 

45-75 min-mod to high               5-7g/kg             1.6-1.7g/kg         1g/kg

90+ mod to high                          5-7+g/kg           1.6-1.8g/kg          1g/kg

1kg = 2.2lb (Divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to get your weight in kilograms.)


It's not uncommon for athletes to gain weight as training increases due to under-eating and under-fueling. In low energy availability, the body will downregulate metabolism and hormones to defend against the perceived threat of starvation, hence making it easier to gain weight. 

Fueling around training 

But eating more carbs anytime during the day isn’t going to make the cut. It’s not only the amount of carbohydrate you consume but WHEN that matters. Carbs are fuel to the body just like gas is fuel to a car. So, ideally, you want to give your body more fuel around its most active time of the day. Not eight hours later when you feel hungry. 

“Bookending” your workout with a pre and post-workout snack/meal is the single best way to fast track the restocking of glycogen (stored carbs in the liver and muscle), adequately recover, support metabolic and immune health, and offset late-day cravings. 

Pre-workout fueling should be 30-60 minutes prior to exercise. Choose easy to digest carbs that are low in fat and fiber. Aim for 20-30 grams carbs such as white bread, applesauce, bananas, oatmeal, graham crackers, or rice cakes that leave minimal residue in the stomach. Always hydrate before workouts but be mindful to avoid overhydrating and flooding the system.

Fueling guidelines during activity 

  • <45 min, low-intensity sessions: consume 20-24 fluid ounces water (add electrolytes to offset extreme sweat loss).

  • 60-75+ min, or high-intensity sessions: 30-50g carbs (small amounts at a time), 250-400mg sodium, and 20-24 fluid ounces per hour. Drink 2-4 gulps (2-4 ounces) every 10-15 minutes or small, frequent sips – starting early in the workout.



  • If this is your only workout of the day and you have eaten regular meals, consume water with electrolytes or just water. This is all dependent on the training phase, how many workouts are in the day and your personal sweat rate. Here are a few suggestions but not limited to:

  • Skratch Sports Hydration — lower carbs, with electrolytes.

  • Nuun Hydration drink mix — lower carbs, with electrolytes.

  • (Carbs assist electrolytes, namely sodium with absorption)


  • Go with a small amount of carbs from a sports drink with electrolytes.  (30-40g carbs/hr – estimation)


  • Go with liquid calories over solids and aim for 30-60g carb/hour. If you have a history of GI issues, take note if the sports drink/product contains fructose and maltodextrin.

  • Tip: Reading sports nutrition labels – namely the ingredient list – comes in handy. Pay close attention to the first two to three ingredients – these are your sugar sources.


  • Because the overall effort is steady state, aerobic-based, heart rate remains lower which allows the GI to process solids, semi-solids, and liquids while on the bike. On the run, heart rate is naturally higher so err on the side of caution and stick to liquids and semi-solids. During training sessions, start with 50+g carbs and 5-10g protein/hr (dependent on body weight) to train the gut to improve gastric emptying and absorption. Semi-solid examples: chews, gummies, Bloks, glucose tabs.

  • Tip: If your sports nutrition products contain maltodextrin, a polysaccharide made with the building blocks of glucose, it may cause GI distress. Maltodextrin is used in sports fuel because it doesn’t affect the osmolality and is tasteless in flavor, but there is one issue. Because it overloads a key gate in the small intestines, it creates the same high-osmolality environment as fructose. Therefore a worst-case scenario would be the energy boost you had intended is insufficient, hydration could be compromised, and you’ve subjected yourself to an upset tummy. It may not affect every athlete the same way, but it’s important to take note if you have a history of GI distress.





Recovery fuel 

The quicker you recover today, the harder you can train tomorrow. The post-workout fuel is non-negotiable. Look at it this way, if you are going to make the effort to train, give your body the fuel it needs to recover. If you hope to lose some weight, all the more reason to fuel when your body needs it, not later that day when you finally feel hungry because you missed the recovery window. At that point, your metabolism is at rest, and you can count on that snack not doing you any favors. 

Even if you aren’t hungry after a workout or you’re not a morning eater, work to change that. The body is highly adaptable and has evolved into your eating pattern. The reason you aren’t hungry in the mornings is your body isn’t accustomed to eating at that time of day.

The recovery snack could easily be breakfast (if a morning workout) or dinner (if an evening workout), and it doesn’t need to be an elaborate five-course meal. 

What and when to eat for recovery?

Within 30-45 minutes, aim for 20-30g protein paired with carbs. Start with a liquid snack to improve palatability and compliance. Examples include a Cocoa Elite complete body protein with milk or water, Cocoa Elite whey protein with sweetened almond milk, Greek yogurt with fruit or granola, chocolate milk or milk alternative, or whey protein mixed in oatmeal with extra liquid so it’s drinkable. 


  • Plain water may be a good thirst quencher, but it’s not an effective hydrator. Use a properly formulated sports or electrolyte drink such as Gatorade Endurance Formula (served on bike course) that contains additional sodium.

  • Aim for 60-90g CHO/hr (240-360 calories) from a combination of rapidly oxidized carb sources such as glucose, dextrose, maltodextrin, and fructose mixtures.

  • Consuming a combination of carb sources is best as they are absorbed through different mechanisms and break down into blood glucose at different rates, decreasing the risk of gastrointestinal distress.

  • Properly formulated sports drinks, energy gels, sports chews, and well-tolerated energy bars are effective fuel sources.

  • Wash down solid carbohydrates (chews, gels, bars) with water to dilute your gut and enhance gastric emptying.

  • Use sports drinks of <6% carbohydrate concentration. These provide hydration, electrolytes, and fuel and are easily absorbed at various heart rates and efforts.

  • Sports drinks can be conveniently stored in aero bottles, bottle mounts in the rear or down tube.


  • Drink early and often on the bike, with the goal of consuming 4–8oz (120–240ml) every 15 minutes. Small, frequent sips are ideal.

  • Don’t depend on thirst to tell you when to hydrate. Drink according to your schedule.

  • A good indication of proper hydration on the bike is the need to urinate once every 2.5 hours.

  • 500–1000mg/hr sodium is a general recommendation and a good starting place, although it varies widely among athletes.


It’s important to start fueling within the first 10-15 min of the bike since you will be in a calorie deficit from the swim. Waiting too long to fuel increases the possibility of dehydration, which can cause gastrointestinal problems (cramping, vomiting, or diarrhea).

Remember to execute steady pacing from the start. Going too hard too early will shut down your gut, causing bloating and a sloshy stomach, sabotaging your fuel plan from the start.

If you choose a solid (for example, a sports bar) on the bike, taper off one hour before T2 to allow for gut emptying. Continue to sip properly concentrated sports drinks and water. The last gel or chews should be consumed approximately 20 minutes from T2.

  • Gatorade Endurance Formula (Flavor: Orange) (24oz – 42g CHO, 600mg sodium)

  • Water

  • Bananas (one medium – 30g CHO)

  • Clif Shot Energy Gels (1 gel – 22-24g CHO, 60-90mg sodium)

  • Clif Bloks Energy Chews (3 chews – 24g CHO, 70mg sodium)

  • Clif Bar Minis (1 bar – 17-18g CHO, 65-100mg sodium)

  • Red Bull (8.4oz -27g CHO, 100mg sodium)



  • Fueling and energy needs pre/during/post workout

  • Hydration and Electrolyte needs

  • Sports nutrition products and proper application

  • Fueling in between workouts and during long training sessions

  • Recovery nutrition

  • Pre-workout nutrition and breakfast on race day

  • Taper guidelines – 3 days out

  • Supplement and Vitamin/mineral assessment

  • Race day fuel and hydration plan

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