Fuel and Running – Part 3 – Reducing Dependence on Carbohydrate Stores

I guess I should have posted this earlier in the week because this weekend was packed with races (MWM, Titi Ultra Marathon, Brooks Half Marathon etc)!

Anyhow, you can always apply this to future races!

Reducing Dependence on Carbohydrate Stores

Now that we know how to maximise our carbohydrate stores before a run, we need to know how to reduce the rate at which liver and muscle glycogen is being used to delay fatigue.

We are all pretty familiar with this one – the gels, the bananas and the sports drinks consumed during a run.Chiquita-DM2-minion-dave-bananas


Source: minionslovebananas.com

Consuming carbohydrates DURING a long distance event reduces the dependence on the liver for maintaining blood glucose concentration and provides the brain and muscles with an external source of glucose.


Source: findwallpaperhd.com

The impact is bigger on liver glycogen stores and will prevent you from turning into a hypoglycaemic zombie.

zombies-cautionSource: https://unseenlibrarian.wordpress.com

When and How Much?

How much carbohydrates you need to consume during your run depends on the intensity of it.

Higher intensity = More Carbohydrates Needed

If you are running long distances, it is highly unlikely that you will be running at top speed long enough to deplete glycogen stores. With this in mind, the recommended range is between 50-60g per hour.

You can space out the amount of carbs you consume during that 1 hour, depending on what sports drink/gels you have at hand. If you are carrying along your own supply then it is easier to calculate the amount you need and when to take it. If you are depending on supplies provided during race day, make sure you know what they are providing (the brand, amount of carbs it contains etc).

For example, if your gel contains 20-25g of carbs, then you need to consume 2 packets within 60 minutes (at 30 minute intervals).

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI don’t have the habit of drinking sweet drinks (including sports drinks) even after/during a long run. I always drink WATER! I remember the first time I took an isotonic drink in the middle of my LSD and I realised how much difference it actually makes! Oh, the simple things you discover along the way.

In my opinion, you don’t need gels and sports drinks for any distance below 21KM. I don’t normally drink at all on my 10KM runs. But of course, every individual is different and I’ll leave that for you to discover what works best for you.

What to Take?

The best drinks/gels to take during a run are those that contain simple sugars (maltose, glucose and maltodextrin). These sugars are absorbed rapidly into your blood stream for immediate use.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetDo you guys take candies on your runs?

Avoid taking fructose. Fructose has been known to cause tummy upsets. However, studies have shown that when glucose is mixed with fructose, the carbohydrate supply to muscles is faster.

Remember to take gels with water. I remember choking when I took my first pack of gel during my first Half Marathon (2XU Compression Run 2014). It threw me into a coughing fit! Looking back, it is something to laugh about but don’t let that happen to you! It was not funny when it actually happened.

Take note on the dilution ratio. The dilution needs to be right for optimal emptying from the stomach and intestinal absorption. If the carbohydrate concentration is too high, you will have problems emptying it from the stomach and water will be pulled into the intestines by the concentrated mix which can lead to diarrhoea (every runner’s nightmare!).

We are finally done…

…with carbohydrates! Phew! I hope that you now know how to maximise your carbohydrate stores before your run and how to reduce dependence on it during your run!

Thankfully, our bodies have alternative sources of energy – FAT! Stay tuned because we’re going to talk about FAT FAT FAT!




Till then,

Keep Running!

I hope everyone had an awesome racing weekend! Time for some rest and recovery. Sleep tight!

10 thoughts on “Fuel and Running – Part 3 – Reducing Dependence on Carbohydrate Stores

  1. Hi Adele,

    Thanks for the sharing! I roughly know when I should start carbo- loading prior my race.
    Though not sure how much fuel I will consume during the race, will do further study on that.
    Try not to hit the wall!


    1. Hi Ben, good to hear that! Yep. Remember to eat well DURING training and not just during the carbo loading phase!! Hope you will do well. When is your next race?

      1. Paiseh, I thought my comment didnt post, that ‘s why I posted two times! Lol..
        My next race would be PBHM, coming next week.
        Cause I m doing 21k, I guess its best to take one power gel after 14-15km. Cause thats the moment my pace drops..
        I think I saw your name on the SCKLM. You can finish within 4 hr!
        I should take your advice seriously..
        Are you joining too in PBHM?

        1. Hi Ben. Haha yeah I was beginning to think that your comment might have been from a bot! You can take your gel after one hour. Depending on your pace, 14-15km might be a bit too late. Hehe yeah my name is there for scklm 2014. Are you running that this year? And nope! I won’t be at PBHM! All the best to you! 🙂

          1. Hope to see your name on the list again!
            Keep fighting!
            N hope my name will be seen as well..

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