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What are some fueling strategies, common mistakes athletes make in their nutrition, and how to recover more effectively.

Constructing an Effective Fueling Plan

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Craig Alexander's Highlights

Three Basic Components to an Effective Nutrition Plan

1. Water or Fluid

2. Electrolytes

3. Carbohydrates (fuel)

Factors to Consider for Designing an Effective Strategy

  • Race duration/distance
  • The course
  • Conditions
  • Race intensity

These factors aid in helping us develop what type of fuel we’ll use, the amount, and the frequency at which we’ll be able to take it in. At a lower intensity, ultra-style events, absorbing calories is a bit easier than when at a high pace.


Implementation on race days takes prior practice. Using the products in training is crucial, especially during race-specific workouts because you get a lot of similar experiences on the body.

Craig’s Plan before a Tri:

  • Wake up 3.5hr before the event
  • Consume 350 calories of CHO (usually liquid)
  • 3hr Before = another 350 calories
  • Head to event space
  • Take .5-1 gel before start depending on the conditions
  • Once on bike, start the “race nutrition plan” about 15min into leg
  • Consume a little fuel nearly constantly (vs large bolus)

His recommendations:

Get a sweat test to understand yourself better

Try to absorb as many carbohydrates as possible (without GI distress)

Treat training from both a fitness AND nutritional aspect

Push the envelope (with carbs) on the intensity days and don’t on the easy days

You construct a fueling plan before events in training, then we should only be problem-solving during the event.

Optional formula for carbohydrate estimation on the bike:

your target wattage for Ironman ride x expected duration x 3.6 = tot expenditure for ride

divide by time for per hour recommendation

goal: 1.5g / kg of weight

Q: How would you go about preparing for competing in hotter climates?

Use a sauna protocol, where you are getting in the sauna for at least 3 days a week for 2 weeks. This triggers similar physiological responses that improve and prepare the body for those climates (and even altitude).

Q: What are the symptoms of under- or over- consuming fuel?

By using race-specific sessions (and practicing a fueling strategy) you can learn how your plan works. Eventually, I was able to differentiate between fatigue at the end of a session or (based on my numbers and performance) whether I was under-performing. That will help you see if your fueling was lacking.

Hi Everyone,

Thank you for attending the webinar on June 29th. I really hope you found it informative and useful.

I do need to bring to your attention a correction (or rather an addition) to the formula that I recommended for calculating a starting point for your hourly calorie/carbohydrate consumption when designing a nutrition plan for an Ironman race.

The formula (Av. Target Bike Power x Estimated Bike Duration x 3.6) is correct for working out your total calorie expenditure on the bike. When you divide by Estimated Bike Duration, you then get calorie expenditure per hour.

What I then forgot to add is that we are not trying to hit that target and replace calorie for calorie. The science suggests that the best rate of calorie replacement is approximately 35% of calories burned, so therefore you then need to multiply your answer for total calories burned per hour by .35 to get the actual amount of calories per hour you are aiming to take as your starting target.


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The Feed. / Wednesday, July 6, 2022