Macronutrients for Runners

May 16, 2020

Macronutrients for Runners

Learn about the macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein, fat) and how they can each be utilised in various ways to enhance your running performance. We will be discussing their importance for energy production, muscle recovery and repair, immune support, and much much more.

For the female runner will take a look at the effects of low energy availability and its effects on hormone balance and the development of Relative Energy Deficiency Syndrome (REDs).

LISTEN HERE Episode 2: Macronutrients to Help Runners go Faster and Longer



We’re speaking about carbohydrates proteins and fats, which are the key energy nutrients in relation to running performance.


Find about why carbohydrate is a limiting factor.


Learn about energy availability and Relative Energy Deficiency Syndrome (REDs) and the female runner.


Talking about protein and its importance for a runner.


Discussing fat intake and running performance.


  • The importance of adequate intake of carbohydrate for the running/training being performed
  • FAT/RED-S (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport) is still known to be more common in women that men, although there are a significant amount of men suffering from RED-S.
  • RED-S may result in reduced sports performance as a result of:
    • Hormonal disruption – e.g. suppression of oestrogen and progesterone
    • Menstrual dysfunction – as a result of suppressed oestrogen and progesterone
    • Increased risk of stress fracture – as a result of reduced oestrogen. This may affect both men and women
    • Reduced basal metabolic rate – as a result of reduced T3 thyroid hormone production
    • Compromised muscle function – a daily protein intake of less than 30Kcal per Kg of free fat mass is known to reduce muscle synthesis (production)
    • Compromised immune function – leading to increased risk of infection inflammation, and injury
  • Females may have a lower reliance on amino acid oxidation as a fuel source due to the protective effects of oestrogen. The protein-sparing effect of oestrogen could suggest their protein requirements may be lower


  • Carbohydrate (CHO) is the most easily digestible and ready available source of energy so the body taps into CHO for immediate requirements during training runs and races. We have limited storage for CHO and that’s why we need to manage top ups of CHO during longer endurance runs
  • PROTEIN consumption is mostly about muscle building and repair and recovery – supporting strength and power and energy production (supporting mitochondria)
  • FAT – from a running perspective – stored fat can be used as an alternative energy source to glycogen – endurance athletes can become very efficient at utilising fat for energy = sparing glycogen

Related Episodes:

Sports Nutrition Foundations for Female Runners

Nutrient Timing for Performance

Energy Bars Gels and Protein Powders


The suggestions we make during this episode are for guidance and advice only, and are not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. If you have any concerns regarding your health, please contact your healthcare professional for advice as soon as possible.

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