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How can I train my gut as a runner to improve my performance?

Boost your carb intake and absorption systematically by consuming more carbs in your daily diet and during your running sessions. Train your digestive comfort by training with higher fluid volumes and running right after meals.

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Written by: The Athlete’s FoodCoach, on 14-02-2024
Woman feeling at her stomach during running training

Why do I need to systematically train my gut as a runner?

Systematic gut training is essential, because while general carb intake guidelines exist, customizing them to your unique needs and tolerance is an art that requires time and effort from both a physical and behavioral standpoint.

This systematic approach offers several benefits:

  1. Enhanced stomach comfort: Increasing portion sizes with fluids and foods gradually over time, can reduce bloating and fullness during exercise, improving comfort.
  2. Improved carb absorption rate: Training your gut through a high-carb diet and practice during exercise enhances your capacity to deliver carbs for muscle fuel.
  3. Peace of mind: Although hitting your maximum intake often stays challenging after training the gut, prior training experience brings peace of mind, reducing the difficulty of execution.

How do I get the training of my gut on point?

Start with the FoodCoach app to achieve your daily carb goals. Then, systematically increase your carb intake during cycling, both long-distance or high-intensity training sessions. In addition, to improve stomach comfort gradually increase fluid intake during exercise or start your ride closer after your meals more often.

To prepare for your event, create a nutrition plan with the FoodCoach app and follow these steps to train your gut:

  1. Plan a training session 10 weeks before your main event, matching more or less its duration and intensity (f.e. a long-distance run or high-intensity interval session).
  2. Set your carb intake goal for this event at 30-60g/h (up to 90 or even 120g/h when more experienced or when you are an ultra-runner) dependent on the total duration that your race will be.
  3. Plan products for your week 1 training that you also tend to use during your event.
  4. Eat and drink as much as possible to test your tolerance during this training to determine the gap between the actual and desired intake. Take into account to have multiple types of carbs when reaching intakes over 60g/h.
  5. Gradually bridge the gap by increasing your carb intake each week. Also train your digestive comfort by training with higher fluid volumes or exercising right after meals once every other week.
  6. Aim to overshoot your event goal in week 9 (last week before event) by roughly 20%.
  7. On the actual race day, reduce your intake to match your event goal (based on time and estimated intensity).

Train your gut with the FoodCoach app
Example of FoodCoach app

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