Nutrition Lab

LOW INTENSITY VS. HIGH INTENSITY

High intensity usually refers to shorter distances. Because you are working for a shorter time, you will have the tendency to work harder. Whereas if you are doing an Ironman or a long bike ride (eg. 100km), you will most probably be working at a lower-intensity. Fueling your body does not only vary by sport, but by intensity levels. It is recommended to decrease your intake of fat and protein when working at a higher intensity than a lower intensity because carbohydrates serve as the body’s first source of energy. However, fat is your body's predominant fuel when working at a lower intensity. 

Here is a smart table to help you eat and fuel efficiently! Find your level of training intensity and try to apply those principles to help you perform at your best!

Intensity of Training

Carbohydrates Daily Needs

Protein and Fat Daily Needs Advise for Training
Light
  • Low intensity activity & skill-based exercises
  • 3-5g per kg of bodyweight
  • 0.8g per kg of bodyweight for protein
  • Fats should be around 20-35% of total calorie intake
  • Consume water during session
Moderate
  • 1 hour training per day
  • 5-7g per kg of bodyweight
  • 0.8-1g per kg of bodyweight for protein
  • Fats should be around 20% of total calorie intake
  • Consume water and possible carb mouth rinse during session
  • 5-15 g protein after session
High
  • Endurance training, 1-3 hours per day
7-10g per kg of bodyweight
  • 1-1.2g per kg of bodyweight for protein
  • Fats should be around 20% of total calorie intake
  • 30-60g per hour of carb intake during training session
  • Consume water with electrolytes
  • 5-25g protein after training session
Very High
  • Multiple trainings per day, 4-5 hours of exercise per day
  • 10-12g per kg of bodyweight
  • 1.2-2g per kg of bodyweight for protein
  • Fats should be around 20% of total calorie intake
  • 90g per hour of carb intake during sessions
  • Consume water with electrolytes
  • 15-25g of protein after training session
Events Carbohydrate needs Protein and fat needs
General fueling
  • For events lasting less than 90 minutes
  • 7-12g per kg of bodyweight, in a 24-48 hour timeframe before the event
  • Same as daily needs
Carbohydrate loading
  • For events lasting more than 90 minutes
  • 10-12g per kg of bodyweight, in a 36-48 hour timeframe before the event
  • Will be reduced to increase carb intake without increasing calorie intake

 

General Nutrition Tips:

  1. Exercise your stomach, be progressive when you attempt to follow these guidelines.
  2. Pre-event meal: minimize fiber, protein and fat. This way you can minimize the chances of gut distress, cramps and nausea during the event. Always keep it simple!
  3. Pre-race dinner: Balance carbs, fat and protein. Hydrate and avoid alcohol. Again low fiber choices!!
  4. Pre-race breakfast: ESSENTIAL even if it’s early. Choose carbs with a high glycemic index, they are easier to absorb (bread, instant oats, fruits).
  5. During the event: if you had breakfast a long time ago, have a snack 15 minutes before the start (gel, fruit juice, gatorade). Drink to thirst following advice #6 and make sure to have 30-60 g of CHO every hour (gels, bar, gatorade). 
  6. Drink during long sessions: aim for 6-8% CHO, 500-700mg/L of sodium. Drink 3-4 sips every 15 minutes. Check your urine color during trainings and adjust for race day. Urine color should be pale yellow: it indicates good hydration status.
  7. Post-race: this refueling is critical for replacing lost nutrients. It is essential to replenish your body with water, protein (20-25 g) and carbohydrate. Start with a snack, then a meal in the following hours. Your body is the most responsive 30 minutes within the end of the race.

Here is an example of one-day menu, illustrating the necessary carb and protein intake for a high intensity-training athlete weighing 70kg:

  • Manipulate your daily carb intake to make the carbohydrates most available during your training session.
  • Make sure to drink enough water during the day!

Breakfast

Item

Calories

Carbohydrates

Protein

Fat

 

3 slices of whole-wheat bread

258 kcal

144 g

9 g

3 g

 

2 tbsp. of peanut butter

191 kcal

6 g

8 g

16 g

 

Medium size banana

105 kcal

27 g

1 g

0

 

250 ml of skim milk

88 kcal

13 g

9 g

0

 

125 ml of orange juice

58 kcal

13 g

1 g

0

Snack

Picky Bar Ah Fudge Nuts

200 kcal

28 g

7 g

8 g

 

Medium size apple

72 kcal

19 g

0

0

Lunch

Egg salad sandwich on bread roll

554 kcal

42g

17 g

36 g

 

1 cup Veggies

75 kcal

3 g

2 g

0

 

1/3 cup hummus

94 kcal

8 g

4 g

5 g

 

One yogurt with ½ cup of berries

227 kcal

41 g

8 g

4 g

 

Snack

 

Larabar Blueberry flavor

 

190 kcal

 

26 g

 

4 g

 

8 g

 

5-6 almonds

100 kcal

3 g

4 g

9 g

Dinner

1 cup quinoa

140 kcal

26 g

4 g

2 g

 

2 cups salad/veggies

150 kcal

6 g

4 g

0

 

75g salmon filet

155 kcal

0

17 g

9 g

 

250 ml of skim milk

88 kcal

13 g

9 g

0

Total

 

2745 kcal

418 g

108 g

100 g

 

***Nutrition plans need to be personalized to the individual. It should take into account body composition (% of fat and muscle mass), performance goals, food allergies, preferences and lifestyle/routine.

Written by:


Marina Parent

Dietitian-Nutritionist, P.Dt.

 

Have a question? Contact our in-house Dietitian Nutritionist here