Why Nutrition and Energy Balance is important for Endurance Athletes

Recreational and Elite athletes, who train 5 – 7 days a week with one to two session a day, can have trouble consuming sufficient food (calories) to meet their energy requirements. And even if the reach their goal for calorie intake, they may still encounter issues ensuring they are getting a balance of nutrition in their diet. This can have two main effects, poor training performance and \ or increased possibility of injury.

So what is Nutrition and Energy Balance, and why is it important for Endurance Athletes?

Nutrition Balance

‘Nutritional Balance’ the balance of Nutrition intake (Vitamins & Minerals) is a common problem in sports nutrition.  But this has a further impact if you need to be a certain weight category, luckily not an issue in Endurance Sports such as Running or Cycling. However the drive is still present to get down to an optimal \ desired race weight.

Some athletes who regularly exercise and to all outward appearances are reasonably healthy may have a poor diet in terms or ‘Nutritional Balance’.  A common cause is the individual who says ‘I can eat what I want as I’ve just been training’.  This can apply to everyone up to and including Elite athletes who are using so much energy in training they believe they can eat what they want. BUT this can have a detrimental effect to their training and performances.

The Government recommendations and guidelines for ‘Nutrition Intake’ are 50 / 55% Carbohydrate, 30 / 35 % Fats & 10 / 15% Protein. However due to individual needs and a comparison of ‘Nutrition Balance’ v’s ‘Energy Expenditure’ and using tools such as the Eatwell Plate Model you can plan and control your kcal intake to achieve the correct balance or imbalance as required.

Energy Balance

‘Energy Balance’ the balance of kcal’s (food and drink) with activity levels.  It’s important for endurance athletes to maintain an energy balance ‘energy’ in v’s ‘energy out’. This is a calculation of an individual’s BMI, BMR and Energy Expenditure (BMR & PAL), by using techniques you are able to create a balance or imbalance as required against a activity schedule to achieve weight reduction or maintain a balanced weight level during increased training.

A common source of weight gain is when someone who regularly exercises suddenly stops or dramatically reduces their training, but continues with the same high energy diet. So the energy balance as with Nutritional Balance important with a focus on energy intake through food whilst balancing against what energy is being used in training.

For any sportsperson it’s important to understand not just the right balance of calories in and calories out, but also the correct balance of nutrients. This will include planning and achieving for safe negative energy balance to lose weight or body fat working towards a race weigh goal whilst ensuring not risking illness or injury. The recommended SAFE targets for weight loss during a training plan is 1 lb per week or 500 kcals per day (250 kcals (diet) + 250 kcals (exercise)).


As part of my training log you can view real examples of how a ‘Nutrition & Energy Balanced’ diet plan will enable an individual to safely reduced weight to a target race weight using S.M.A.R.T choices \ objectives;

Final week summary – Anglo Celtic Plate 100k Ultra – March 2016


Many people assume athletes have improved performance and recovery with supplements due to the increased stress the body is under. In fact, the body actually increases its own defense systems to aid recovery. It adapts to metabolic functions for improved performance. However, these systems need to be supported by a balanced diet that matches energy needs. With a controlled Nutrition & Weight management plan this can be achieved with a Nutrition & Energy balanced diet without the need for additional supplements.

For more information on improving your energy balance contact us or view our course information.

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  1. Pingback: Training 21 – 27 March inc. Anglo Celtic Plate 100k – fuelled.run

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