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Can My Long Run Calories Come from Sports Drinks?

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Updated January 26, 2014

Question: Can My Long Run Calories Come from Sports Drinks?
"During long runs or races, can I get my calories from liquids such as sports drinks rather than solid foods such as energy gels or bars?"
Answer: When you're running more than 90 minutes, it's important to replace some of the calories that you're burning so you can avoid hitting the dreaded wall. When it comes to choosing between liquid calories, such as sports drinks, and solid foods, such as energy gels, bars, or candies, it's a matter of personal preference. Both solid foods and liquids get burned at the same rate. But you may find that your digestive system handles one better than the other. If you're training for an endurance event, it's important to test different liquids and foods during your long training runs so you can know what works best for you. You don't want to try anything new on race day.

The other factor to consider is convenience. If you're doing a race, you can always get sports drinks from the aid stations (as long as they have the flavor that you like and have trained with). But if you rely on just sports drinks during your long runs, you'll definitely have to stop to get more along the way. If you use food, you'll most likely be able to carry enough fuel for your entire run in your pockets or running belt. Of course, if your calories come from solid food, you'll also need water for hydration, but it's easier to get water from fountains or public restrooms along your running route than it is to find sports drinks.

More:
Nutrition and Hydration Guide for Long Distance Running
Hydration Needs for Runners

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  5. Nutrition for Runners
  6. Sports Drinks for Long Run Nutrition

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