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Is it advisable to use solid foods in the Ultra Trails?

In races up to 60k – 80k solid nutrition plays a minor role, except for sports energy bars. We must try as much as possible to use carbohydrates in liquid form to facilitate digestion and not steal blood from the muscles. Everything changes as distances lengthen!

Not by chance more than 50% of withdrawals in races from 100K up are attributable to gastro-intestinal problems.

In ultra trails, a good nutritional strategy is based on three main elements:

  • the alternation between solid foods and liquid foods
  • inserting salty foods every 4-5 hours
  • the choice of how to distribute both solid and sports foods considering the altitude profile and the time of day

So, what will make an athlete finish a race successfully is careful planning. It is essential to plan the refreshments and respect what was decided at the table without getting caught up in the excitement and adrenaline of the moment in order to make a correct supply of energy.

In planning, regardless of the type of competition, there are common elements that always remain valid. The more runnable sections and the steeply sloping parts of the track are the ideal time to consume gels and liquid carbohydrates, considering increasing the concentration of fast-release sugars at night. In the stages of the race where the speed is lower, solid foods can be consumed.

You may now be wondering which solid foods are best to consume?

Assuming that it is always important to evaluate the levels of personal tolerance, here is a list of foods, among the most digestible, that you most commonly find in many restaurants in Italy or other Countries (or that you can get yourself if you have assistance in the race):

  • raisins (to mix with peanuts that you can take with you and a pinch of salt)
  • bread (removing the crumb, more difficult to digest)
  • pasta or rice (preferably without anything, at most a drizzle of oil and salt)
  • broth and small pasta (if you don’t have it, you can soak the bread)
  • boiled potatoes
  • salty crackers or similar
  • bananas
  • gummy candies
  • fruit tart

Obviously, the management of refreshments requires a strategy and counting of the carbohydrates consumed (even in the form of drinks) to avoid stomach problems. If in doubt, trust our expert nutritionists who can help you fine-tune your race plan. Check the race plans available HERE

endurance nutrition, nutrition in trail running races, nutrition in ultra trails, race plan, run ultras, sport and race nutritional plan, Ultra Runner, ultra trail, ultra trailer

Cristina Tasselli

Digital Strategic Marketing Director - certified Innovation Manager - in multinational companies, she is still today the only Italian female athlete to have ran 900 km and 55,000m D+ in the mountains in a single stage race (Transpyrenea 2016, 3rd women overall). She counts numerous Podiums and international Victories on races over 100k. She holds a SNaQ CONI certification as a Trail Running Coach, Athletic Trainer and in Nutrition and Sports Supplementation. Since 2014 she is President and sports executive of innovative technology startups and companies, including Trail Running Movement and Digital Sport 360. She trains elite trail running athletes and she teaches in trail running coach certification courses. She is an author of sports articles on training, nutrition and supplementation in trail running and running, both in Italian and in English and Spanish. She manages relationships and collaborations with Federations and Race Organizers.