Nutrition guidelines

As we are all unique and individual, it is impossible to give exact guidelines that will apply to everyone. There are however broad concepts that we can all apply in the lead up to an event to help us optimize our performance through quality nutrition.

A general background

As a rule of thumb the quality of what you eat is more important than the quantity. Eat freely and make good food choices. I recommend that if you need specific advice consult a nutritional consultant.

  1. Have a balanced meal every 2-3 hours (that will be for most people about 6 meals per day.)
  2. Eat protein at EVERY meal.
  3. Eat carbohydrates that are low on the glycaemic index (I shoot for under 55 on the glucose scale) AND low on the insulin indices.
  4. Have at least 1 Tbsp of flax or hempseed oil per day (and think about including some fish oils in your diet.)
  5. Always consume a high GI, carb/protein drink after training. Cut denatured, saturated and trans fats from your diet.
  6. Don't eat the same foods day in day out!
  7. Eat veggies at every meal you can!
  8. Use supplements intelligently (get good advice and use products that will help you to reach your goals and that fit in with your lifestyle and budget.

Selecting food

Where possible choose foods that are whole, natural and unprocessed. As a rule of thumb these foods are most often low on the glycaemic index (won't spike your blood glucose levels AND have a proportionate insulin release, as many processed foods although low on the glycaemic index still disproportionately raise insulin levels.) Some foods to avoid are:

  1. Added sugar (either that you add or that is added at manufacture)
  2. Saturated Fats/Trans Fatty Acid (trim all meats and avoid foods that have added fats)
  3. Added vegetable oils in processed products
  4. Highly refined carbohydrates. Examples: Wheat noodles, instant noodles, crackers, biscuits, most commercial breakfast cereals, white and highly ground brown breads, white short grain rices, refined pasta.

Good foods to use


Yam, Kumara, Squash, Pumpkin, Rice, Wholemeal Pasta, Oatmeal, Beans, Corn, Strawberries, Melon, Apple, Orange, Fat Free Yoghurt, Whole Grain Bread, Milk, Seeds or Grains


Skinless Turkey, Fish (esp. oily varieties), Crab (not imitation), Crayfish, Shrimp, Prawns, Lean Beef, Buffalo, Egg Whites, Low-Fat Cottage Cheese, Whey Isolate, Skinless Chicken,


Asparagus, Lettuce, Carrots, Cauliflower, Green Beans, Capsicum, Mushrooms, Spinach, Silverbeet, Tomato, Peas, Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cucumber, Onion, Zucchini

Simple Carb Loading Guidelines

If carb-loading's not your thing I suggest that you just incrementally increase the carb portion at every meal by a small amount. Still stick with carbs that are on the table in this article.

Days before event Carbs Fluids Exercise


<3g per kg b/w per day


Train with light weights and riding to near exhaustion


<3g per kg b/w per day


Light ride 60 min max


Approx 1g per kg bodyweight per hour for first 10 hours. Also 150-200g carbs after carb depletion workout

Drink at least 50% more than normal

Light intensity but fairly long session. Use weights and every possible muscle group, not to failure. Exhaust muscle glycogen


1g carbs per kg b/w at every meal

Drink at least 50% more than normal

Very light, move the legs 30min max


1g carbs per kg body weight at every meal. Try to eat at least 6-8 meals

Drink at least 50% more than normal

Very light, move the legs 30min max

Don't forget water!

Everybody's water intake and needs will vary greatly. Often it is a matter of finding what works best for you. Most people however would do well to be drinking more water. It is estimated that the human body turns over in excess of 100ml of water per hour. So a baseline water intake should be over 2.5 litres. You will get some of this from food but I think a minimum of 2-3 litres should be drunk as a starting point.

During Exercise and Events

It's never too soon to create and implement your ideal race day nutrition plan, in fact the more time you have to practice this in training the less likely you are to hit road blocks come race day. Training also offers a great variation of intensity, distance and environmental conditions to fine tune your fuel intake.
PURE Sports Nutrition qualified sports nutritionist Marewa Sutherland has put together some tips on preparing your ultra marathon & endurance training nutrition: Read More

After training

With so much focus on getting race day & training nutrition right, the nutrition required for optimal post-event recovery is often overlooked. By paying attention to your post-race nutrition, your muscles are likely to recover much quicker. Both carbohydrates and protein are critical for full recovery after training or an event. For more information on training and race day recovery nutrition: Read More