A female athlete running on a track

What to eat on heavy training days

On heavy training days you'll need to pay close attention to hydration levels and up your carbohydrate intake. Make sure you're eating the right kind of carbs with our recipe suggestions...

On heavy training days, getting your nutrition right is especially important in order to meet the increased demands of training and ensure rapid refuelling and overall recovery. Hydration is a key element too as you will be sweating more and losing water.

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Nutrition plan for heavy training days (two or more training sessions or a long, endurance-based session)

Increase the carbs
Carbohydrate intake is raised on these days, and as a general rule, a serving should be included at all main meals, to top up muscle glycogen (fuel) levels. 

Snacks can also be used to support high training volume. Higher-GI carbohydrate snacks mid-morning or mid-afternoon can be a useful tool to increase overall intake, or as a quick pre-training snack. 

The priority is to increase carbohydrate intake (as the main fuel), but don’t forget to maintain both protein and polyunsaturated fat intake with each meal. Be sure to include an evening snack containing protein, as this is vital to help your body recover from a heavy training day and assist muscle growth overnight, as this is when a large amount of growth and repair (adaptation) will occur in the muscles.

Other nutrients
Up your fluid intake to compensate for sweat losses during training and stick to tried and tested foods before setting out on a long run. Avoid foods that may cause gastrointestinal issues, such as spices, fatty or very high fibre foods.

Selecting fruits and vegetables that contain antioxidants or dietary nitrate may offer further benefit to the muscles during training and recovery.
 

Meal options:

Breakfast options:
Cinnamon buckwheat pancakes with cherries
Blueberry bircher pots
Good-for-you granola

Morning snack options:
Cinnamon berry granola bars
Banana yogurt pots

Lunch options:
Falafel burgers
Chicken & broccoli pasta bake
Quick chilli bean wraps

Afternoon snack suggestion:
Instant frozen berry yogurt

Dinner options:
Spanish rice & prawn one-pot
Lamb with buckwheat noodles & tomato dressing
Chicken, sweet potato & coconut curry

Evening snack suggestions (optional):
Protein shake

Now find out what to eat on easy and normal training days.

More training & nutrition tips for runners


These meal plans were last updated on 20 February 2020 by James Collins.

James Collins is recognised as a leading Performance Nutritionist through his work with Olympic and professional sport. Over the last decade he has worked with Arsenal FC, the England and France national football teams and Team GB. He has a private practice in Harley Street where he sees business executives, performing artists and clients from all walks of life. He is the author of the new book The Energy Plan, which focuses on the key principles of fuelling for fitness.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact  your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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