Category Archives: Nutrition

Nutrition tips from our very own Lisa Kleiner of Kleiner Nutrition!

To Carbo Load or Not to Carbo Load that is the Question

It’s getting closer, just under 4 weeks to the Marathon!! The nerves are definitely starting to kick in!

At this point in training it would be wise to start considering your race strategy regarding pace, nutrition and hydration. Possibly you have one long run left, so take this as an opportunity to try out your gels, sports drinks, foods and fluids.

Something else you may be considering to do prior to the race is “Carbo Loading”. In this blog I will attempt to explain the science behind this principle along with offering different alternatives and a sample meal plan. I would absolutely recommend that you take some time to ponder on the following positives and negatives of such a regime!

Carbo Loading was devised to increase glycogen stores in muscles to capacity. For any sports over 90 minutes in length this is very advantageous as we start to run out of fuel around this time. Glycogen recovery takes on average around 20 hours depending on depletion, muscle damage and intake,therefore tapering and resting are a very important part of the carbohydrate loading principle!

Carbo loading will in effect help you have the energy to run for longer, combine it with carbohydrate intake immediately before and early into the marathon you should have no problem having the fuel to finish the race in style!! This should help you avoid “HITTING THE WALL” on the day and aid a quicker recovery. Please remember that although you will also use fat as a fuel during the race you cannot rely on this solely as a fuel source as it is a very slow burner and fat cannot be utilised by the body WITHOUT the presence of carbohydrates!! So in effect no carbs no running!

There are 3 different ways to carbo load all scientifically proven to work in males unfortunately for the fairer sex it seems to be less effective! However us females should not discount it altogether but rather try it out in training, as effectiveness tends to be very individual..

The original 6 day pre-race regime started in the 1960’s at the start of the sports science era….it combined 2 bouts of glycogen depleting exercise separated by 3 days of low carbohydrate intake, followed by 3 days of no exercise with a high carbohydrate intake. As seen in table 1

Table 1: Classic Carbo Loading
Day, Training, Diet
1, Exhaustive prolonged exercise, Normal,
2, Taper, Low Carb High Fat High Protein,
3, Taper, Low Carb High Fat High Protein,
4, Exhaustive prolonged exercise, Low Carb High Fat High Protein,
5, Taper, High Carb,
6, Taper, High Carb,
7, Taper, High Carb,

Unfortunately this approach interferes with tapering and rest and many athletes were left feeling tired and irritable on the low carbohydrate diets. Therefore it would certainly be my advice for you all NOT to try this classic protocol!!

Due to the difficulties of the initial carbo loading principle, modified approaches were developed that put less of a strain on the athlete, in the week prior to the race. This modified version appears to have the same results as the classical one in terms of increasing glycogen stores but allows for tapering without reducing carbohydrate intake. This is a 6 day tapered training approach with a normal diet on first 3 days following by high carbohydrate on the last 3 days pre race.

Table 2: Modified Carbo Loading
Day, Training, Diet
1, Taper, Normal Diet,
2, Taper, Moderate Carb,
3, Taper, Moderate Carb,
4, Taper, Moderate Carb,
5, Taper, High Carb,
6, Taper, High Carb,
7, Taper, High Carb,

Most recent research has shown that neither the low carbohydrate diet or the depletion phase are needed to achieve maximum glycogen stores and in fact just eating a very high intake of carbohydrate on one day prior to the race after an intense 3 minute training session will also increase stores to maximum.

Therefore the following third option is probably the most easily adapted to suit a week of taping and rest prior to the race. This protocol as outlined in table 3 is the easiest to implement and does not involve any depletion exercise. I would certainly recommend the following protocol if you are considering doing a carbo load. The interesting part of this protocol is the final day, which is to perform just one 3 minute bout of high intensity exercise followed by the day of a very high carbohydrate intake. You can of course just do day 7 on its own but the combination of the week would be more effective.

Table 3: 1 day Regimen
Day, Training, Diet
1, Endurance run for 1 hour, Normal Diet,
2, Taper, Moderate Carb,
3, Taper, Moderate Carb,
4, Taper, Moderate Carb,
5, Taper, High Carb,
6, Taper, High Carb,
7, 1 x 3 minutes high intensity exercise, Very High Carb Low fat Low Fibre,

How Much Carbohydrate Do I need to EAT??

Moderate carbohydrate intake: 5-7g of carbohydrates to 1kg of body weight

High: 7-8g of carbohydrates to 1kg of body weight

Very High: 8-10g of carbohydrates to 1kg of body weight

So for example if I am 70kg then I will be looking to eat around 420g under the moderate diet, 560g under high and 700g for the very high diet of carbohydrates daily.

PLEASE NOTE: For each gram of glycogen stored the body will store 3 grams of water so be prepared to gain about 1-2kg in body mass after a carbo loading protocol, on the plus side however think of all that stored hydration! If you decide to do the carbo loading then please try this out in training first!!

So what does this mean in terms of food?
In the days leading up the race you need to choose low glycamic index foods so basically complex carbs and wholegrains. Try and keep your diet as healthy as possible including as many vegetables, legumes and wholegrains. Choose good quality lean protein such as lean meats, eggs and fish. If you have a problem with fibre in a race then reduce you fibre intake 2 days before the race. Below in the table is an example of a 1 day pre event loading plan, it is a lot of food so try and space out your meals to little and often rather then large amounts at a time. Again this is just an example of what you would need to plan on that day and doesn’t account for all the different tastes and diets out there!!


Final Word:
If anyone decides to try out the loading protocol please don’t hesitate to contact me at and I’ll try answer any of your questions!!! I can also give out some macronutrient food tables that will be helpful when trying to calculate your food/carbohydrate intake! I am also attaching a wholefoods information sheet along with some recipes that might also be useful! My next blog will be next week on tapering and its effects on the immune system, many people find in this time they pick up colds and flues, so I will endeavour to fill you in on all the foods you can take and some supplements that will help build your defense systems!

Good luck everyone and let me know how you get on!!

Click here for Wholefoods Presentation

References: Anita Bean, Complete sports nutrition and Louise Burke, Practical sports nutrition

Nutritional Interventions to Support Optimum Healing for Sports Injuries


Nutritional Interventions to Support Optimum Healing for Sports Injuries
All Athletes regardless of their level of sporting participation, elite or recreational, are exposed to the risk of developing an injury(1). Although any part of the body can be injured, sporting injuries usually occur within the musculoskeletal system which can result in a period of immobilization(2). The recovery period can be a frustrating time for any athlete, usually accompanied by physical inactivity with expected losses in strength and muscle mass (1). Although nutrition has an important role to play during recovery it is often overlooked (3), in fact a poor nutritional status, particularly deficits in energy and protein, have been identified to impede recovery and exacerbate inflammation(4). Therefore the diet during the rehabilitation and healing phase is crucial to enhance a speedier recovery process for client.

Click here for full details on this.

Sports Drinks and Carbohydrate Intake During Sport


As we saw in the last article dehydration can negatively affect health and performance. Therefore it is essential to drink enough both before, during and after sport.
Although we know that we should drink often the question is, what should we drink especially on those long run days. The following article attempts to answer some of your questions regarding sports drinks and their contents.

When is it ok just to drink water?
In general, water is sufficient during exercise duration of 1 hour or less.

When should I take a sports drink/carbohydrate?
For endurance running of over 1 hour it is generally recommended that we consume 30g-60g of carbohydrate during each hour of sport, along with water.

Why do we need carbohydrates when we run for over 1 hour?
This carbohydrate source during exercise helps to fuel the brain and muscles and can be achieved either by adding the carbohydrate to your drink, taking gels or by eating snacks.

What are carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are an ideal source of energy for the body and are an essential fuel source during exercise. Much research has shown that consuming carbohydrates during running will enhance performance and increase your endurance capability.

There are two types of carbohydrate: complex or low GI and simple or high GI. Complex carbohydrates provide a slower and more sustained release of energy than simple carbohydrates. All carbohydrates form glucose when digested. Glucose is transported around the body via blood and taken into cells to be converted into energy. The pancreas gland in your abdomen secretes the hormone insulin, which controls the uptake of glucose by your cells. If you have any excess glucose, this is converted into glycogen – which is stored in the muscles, liver or in fat around the body.

When your body needs more energy, a second hormone called glucagon is secreted by the pancreas. This converts the glycogen back into glucose, which is then released into your bloodstream for your cells to use. This means the body’s glucose (sugar) metabolism is a cycle of glucose, insulin and glucagon reactions.

  • The slower the release of glucose and hormones, the more stable and sustainable the energy levels of the body.
  • The more refined the carbohydrate, the faster the glucose is released into your blood.
  • However during exercise when we burn fuel we need to maintain a constant flow of glucose otherwise we will burn out, in other words “hit the wall”. Although stored fat in our bodies is a second source of fuel during running it cannot be converted to energy unless there is carbohydrate (sugars) present.

Found this great table on the internet!!


When should I consume complex or simple carbohydrates?
During and immediately after runs we need a faster supply of energy to our working muscles and brain, therefore it is recommended that in these times we consume simple carbohydrates.
In all other times we should try and reduce intake of simple sugars and consume only slow releasing low GI wholegrain carbohydrates which will sustain your over all energy levels better.

How much carbohydrate should I take per hour of running?
Research has indicated that Ingested single source carbohydrate is oxidized at 60-70 g.h¯¹. This effectively means that the body cannot digest more that 70g of carbohydrate per hour of exercise and consuming more than this is likely to be associated with gastrointestinal symptoms due to dehydration and slowed gastric emptying.

What happens in my stomach during running?
During exercise the blood flow to the stomach is reduced making it difficult to digest solids and many athletes suffer from cramping and stomach discomfort if they eat meals prior to or snacks during exercise. Sports drinks are designed to quickly pass through the stomach and are rapidly absorbed from the small intestine. They contain just the right amount of carbohydrate that you need along with fluids to prevent dehydration.

What are Sports Drinks?
There are 2 Types of sports drinks available on the market:
Fluid Replacement Drinks – Absorbed faster and contain less electrolytes and sugars.
Energy Drinks – Provide more carbohydrate for energy.

  • Hypotonic – 4g CHO /100ml are more effective when rapid rehydration is required and are absorbed faster than water.
  • Isotonic – 4-8g CHO/100ml, same osmolality as body fluids, provide ideal rehydration and refuelling; absorbed as fast as plain water.
  • Hypertonic – 8g CHO/100ml slower absorption providing more fuel and can dehydrate, most energy drinks are in this category and are not suitable for sport.

In general the isotonic drink is the easiest absorbed and optimally should contain between 6-8% carbohydrate.

What else is in a Sports Drink?
Most sports drinks will also contain electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. These too have their benefits during exercise in that sodium will increase the thirst sensation, aid fluid retention and increase absorption. Potassium assists muscle contractions during exercise. Some drinks contain caffeine and most of them contain artificial preservations, colours and flavours.

Can I make my own Sports Drinks?
Yes of course!!!!!!!!!!
For those of you that prefer to consume healthier and natural products then you can DIY your own sports drink. Coconut water for example is high in antioxidants and electrolytes, why not add organic fruit squash and a pinch of salt to the coconut water for your own homemade drink or try out these two below. I have attached a couple of different drinks recipes that you may like to try…

Homemade Hypotonic Drink

  • 250ml Fruit Juice
  • 750ml Filtered Water
  • ¼ tsp Salt (optional)
  • (24g cho per litre)

Homemade Isotonic Drink

  • 500ml Fruit Juice
  • 500ml Fruit Juice
  • ¼ tsp Salt (optional)
  • (48g cho per litre)

Final Note
It is really important to remember that we are all individuals and what works for one person may not for another. Never ever try something on race day that you have not recently tried during training runs. Also to note fructose or fruit sugar car irritate the tummy in high amounts and cause diarrhoea. Research indicates that mixing your carbohydrate sources is the best way to take it during exercise, so glucose and fructose together for example. If you have no problem eating solids during running remember to make sure they are high GI and are low in protein and fat. Remember to also try and avoid high fibre foods in this time as otherwise you might end up with a toilet issue! If you take gels you need to drink plenty of water at the same time and avoid taking them with sports drinks as the carbohydrate concentrations will then be too high! High amounts of carbohydrates that are present in concentrated form as is in gels can cause tummy upset, dehydration and cramping when taken without water!!!

Personally I have tried gels and sports drinks recently and found the cyto powder to be pleasant enough and also the homemade isotonic drink is good but I found it to be less this the placebo effect I wonder?? The gels I find really sticky, sickly and not very palatable and even though I drank a lot of water when taking them I noticed I get stitches about 10-15 minutes after which I found hard to shake off! On the plus side to taking the gels, the days I took them i noticed my recovery following the long run was much quicker than when I just took the sports drinks alone.

Below I have included some tables that will give you the macronutrient values of some common foods. This should help you add up the carbohydrate content of your snacks. Try and plan each hour of long running and start taking your carbohydrate early into the run for example:

  • 1st hour: 500ml sports drink
  • 2nd hour: Sports Gel with 600ml water
  • 3rd hour: Dried Raisins with 500ml water
  • 4th hour: Banana, 5-6 natural jellies and 500ml water

Or alternatively do the same thing every hour if that works for you. The biggest problem practically is carrying everything, so for your training runs maybe plan your route in advance and leave drinks along the way, carry a small rucksack or belt to hold the food/gels.
If you have experience with a great drink or you have a magic potion/recipe, then please share with us! It would be really interesting if we could make a product hit list which covers taste, price and results…Alternatively if you have any questions about sports nutrition or hydration then please post on the blog and I’ll do my best to post an answer
Happy running everyone!!

P.S: Please note due to their high sugar content sports drinks are only suitable for consumption around exercise and are not recommended to be taken by children especially outside of sport.

Sports Snack Foods – Macronutrient Values

Food Type,Quantity,Carbohydrate g,Protein g ,Fat g
Banana,1 (100g),23,1.3,0.3
Apple,1 (100g),11.4,0.5,0.1
Pear,1 (100g),10.4,0.3,0.1
Water Melon,100g,7.1,0.5,0.3
Orange,1 (160g),13.6,1.8,0.2
Clementine,1 (60g),5.2,0.5,0.1
Avocado,1 (160g),2.7,2.7,27
Mango,1 (140g),19.7,1,0.3
Dried Raisins,50g,35,1.1,0.2
Dried Apricots,70g,30,3.4,0.5

Food Type,Quantity,Carbohydrate g,Protein g ,Fat g
Popcorn Homemade,30g (Popped),23,3.9,1.4
Popcorn Manhatten,1 30g Bag,21,3,4.4
Corn Cakes ÐMultigrain Kelkin,1 cake,10.6,1.8,0.9
Rice Cakes with Yogurt- Kelkin,1 Cake,11.6,1.1,4.1
Bounce Balls-Almond proteinblast,1 Ball 49g,19.4,15,8
Bounce Balls ÐFudgie walnut,1 Ball 42g,20,5,9
Bounce Balls Ð Cashew Pecan,1 Ball 42g,22,4,9
Nature Valley Honey and Oats,1 Bar,32,4,6
Nakd Cocoa orange,1 Bar,16.8,3.9,7
Nakd Cocoa Mint,1 Bar,18.3,3.2,5.4
Nakd Oaty bar banana bread,1 Bar,38,3.2,4.7
Nakd Oaty bar berry Cheeky bar,1 Bar,40,5.3,6.2
Nakd Oary bar Apple Pie,1 Bar,41,75.1,6

Food Type,Quantity,Carbohydrate g,Protein g ,Fat g
Carrots Sticks,80g,4.8,0.6,0.5
Celery,1 stick,0.5,0.3,0.2
Peppers,? in sticks,6.8,1,0.3
Cherry Tomato,5,3,0.8,0.4

Food Type,Quantity,Carbohydrate g,Protein g ,Fat g
Wholemeal bagel,1 (82g),43,9.8,1.8
Wholemeal Pita,1 (67g),39,6.2,0.8
Brown bread,1 slice (80g),26,4.7,0.8
Soft Bread rolls,1 roll (56g),28,5.1,1.4

Toppings for Bread
Food Type,Quantity,Carbohydrate g,Protein g ,Fat g
Honey,1 tsp,7.6,0,0
Jam,1 tsp,2.4,0.1,0
Butter,1 tsp,0,0,4.1
Almond Butter,1 tbsp,1.2,3.8,10
Peanut Butter,1 tbsp,1.4,4.5,9.6
Ham,1 slice,0.1,4.2,1
Cheddar ,1 slice 22g,0,5.5,7.4

Click below for some recipes for home made sports drinks

Sports Drink Recipe
SportsZest Drink Recipe

Dehydration and Fluids in Running


Dehydration results from inadequate intake of fluids. It is a cumulative effect, in other words the symptoms are mild in the beginning and can become more serious over a short period of time. Avoiding dehydration is therefore imperative as this will lead to a gradual reduction in physical and mental performance.

So what happens in our bodies if we don’t drink enough?

  • Body temperature increases during exercise.
  • Increased breakdown of glycogen in working muscle – this means we use more energy and get tired more easily.
  • Reduced rates of gastric emptying of fluids during exercise.
  • Reduced Concentration.
  • Muscle Cramps, Headaches, Nausea, Light Headiness, Dizziness.
  • Increased strain on our heart.
  • Reduced rates of fluid absorption from the intestines making it harder to reverse the fluid deficit. You may experience bloating and nausea if you delay fluid replacement.
  • Perceived intensity of exercise is increased.
  • Remember the thirst sensation is not automatic and when you start to feel thirsty you are possibly already dehydrated!

    How do I become dehydrated?
    Drinking insufficient fluids outside exercise is a common cause of dehydration and the average individual drinks a lot less than the following recommended levels.

    RDA Fluids (EFSA 2010) (outside sport)
    20% comes from food -20%
    Females >14yr 2lt 1.6lt
    Males >14yr 2.5lt 2lt

    Starting your exercise dehydrated is not a good idea and will lead to problems during your running.

    How do I know if I’m dehydrated?
    Well it’s as simple as this…


    ….take the time to study your pee as this is the best indicator of hydration levels in the body…use the following pee chart to determine your hydration levels.


    So how do I become dehydrated during exercise?
    Simply put we sweat. Sweat glands in your skin make sweat, also known as perspiration, and is made almost completely of water, with tiny amounts of other chemicals like ammonia, urea and electrolytes.

    Sweating is the bodies response to maintaining a safe body temperature(36-38°C). It is effectively the removal of heat from the body. Most elite athletes are interestinely able to maintain higher core temperatures during exercise however for the rest of us it is extremely dangerous if our cooling systems are not working properly!

    The amount of sweat that you produce is individual and depends on: Exercise duration and intensity, fitness level, environment- temperature and humidity, body size.

    What else is lost in sweat?
    Electrolytes are also lost when we sweat, these are electrically-charged particles, and maintain electrical charges across cell membranes and carry electrical impulses (nerve impulses, muscle contractions, etc.) across themselves and to other cells.

    Your kidneys keep the electrolyte concentrations in your blood constant despite changes in your body.

    For example, when you exercise heavily, you sweat a lot and lose electrolytes in your sweat. These electrolytes must be replaced to keep the electrolyte concentrations of your body fluids constant, to maintain the proper balance of water on either side of the cell membranes and maintain electrical charges and impulses.


    Replacement of electrolytes lost in sweat can normally wait until the recovery period (Jenkendrup & Gleeson, 2010) and can be added to your recovery snack/drink, however adding a pince of salt to your sports drink will encourage you to drink more!

    How can I measure my sweat losses?
    An effective and simple way to look at fluid loss is to monitor body weight changes before and after exercise.

    Start with the measure of body mass prior to exercise. Ideally this should be done nude, but usually it is appropriate to do the measure in minimal clothing. Any volume of drinks taken during exercise will also need to be measured. You can easily do this by weighing water bottles at the start and end of exercise. During exercise, if at any time you need the toilet, their weight must be taken before and after. After exercise, body weight should be taken in the same clothing as before exercise, and any excess sweat on the skin should be towelled off

    sweat loss = (body weight before – body weight after) + amount of fluid intake – toilet loss.

    So how much should I drink during exercise?
    The chart below is only general recommendations set out by ACSM (american Collage of Sports Medicine). To be more accurate on your needs measure your sweat losses!!


    Is it possible to drink too much?
    Yes absolutely!! Hyponatremia is a condition that occurs when the level of sodium in your blood is abnormally low.
    Drinking too much water during endurance sports — causes the sodium in your body to become diluted. When this happens, your body’s water levels rise, and your cells begin to swell. This swelling can cause many health problems, from mild to severe.

    Symptoms: Headache, confusion, fatigue, muscle weakness, spasms, cramps, loss of consciousness, seizures, coma.
    When it occurs in triathletes, it usually happens during long or ultra-distance races in the heat but may occur anytime.

    It is estimated that approximately 30% of the finishers of the Hawaii Ironman are both hyponatremic and dehydrated. The longer the race, the greater the risk of hyponatremia .

    Confused about salt/Sodium?
    Salt is sodium plus chloride. Both are minerals. Salt is made up of 40% sodium and 60% chloride. The RDA for salt in Ireland for adults is 4g of salt or 1.6g of sodium the equivelant to ¾ of a teaspoon. Remember if sweating is excessive sodium needs to be replaced above the RDA. Adding a little salt will increase the desire to drink, promotes both carbohydrate and water uptake by the intestines and decreases urine output.

    Final Note
    As a novice middle distance and aspiring long distance runner I understand the difficulties of comsuming large amounts of water during road runs and trying to achieve the recommended intakes is very difficult.
    Not to mention the uncomfortableness of running with a belly full of fluids sloshing around, there are also many practical issues with drinkinig during exercise namely; carrying the bottles, toilet breaks and cramping. If we consider that we should drink 1lt over 2 hours even the weight of this is exhausting! Therefore as I am learning every day it is very important to plan ahead for the long runs, start the run well hydrated, plan your route and leave bottles on the way, take some cash with you to buy drinks and figure out the toilet situation for your route!! Happy running!


    Hello all fellow Kilcoole members…..

    To accompany the new marathon and endurance training plans we thought it might be good to start a club blog on hydration and nutrition for runners. This blog will cover all aspects of nutrition and hydration over time and will include practical tips, recipes and supplement information. We hope it will grow organically and that members will get involved in any discussions. I am a relative novice to running and although I can supply the scientific knowledge and recommendations from leading sports bodies I don’t hold the endurance running experience as many in the club….therefore it would be great if the more experienced runners out there give feedback and suggestions including product preferences and ideas. What worked/didn’t work for you?

    The first article will cover hydration and dehydration in running and the following piece will have a more in-depth look at sports drinks. If you have experience with a great drink or you have a magic potion/recipe then please share with us! It would be really interesting if we could make a product hit list which covers taste, price and results…

    Alternatively if you have any questions about sports nutrition or hydration then please post on the blog and I’ll do my best to post an answer!

    Happy blogging