How to eat during an ultra-trail? By Nicolas Dayez

Comment s'alimenter pendant un ultra-trail ?

Are you embarking on your first ultra-trail and wondering how to properly fuel yourself to go the distance? This article is for you! We will give you all the tips to optimize your nutrition during this demanding event.

The Importance of Good Nutrition During an Ultra-Trail

During an ultra-trail, your body is subjected to intense and prolonged workload. To keep up the pace, a suitable diet is essential. Poor nutrition can quickly exhaust you and make you drop out of the race. Conversely, a well-thought-out food strategy will help you maintain your energy and performance.

Here are the main challenges of good nutrition during an ultra-trail:

  • Maintain a sufficient energy intake to provide the necessary energy for the effort.
  • Prevent dehydration and digestive disorders.
  • Promote recovery between efforts.

Key Macronutrients for an Ultra-Trail

During an ultra-trail, your needs for macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, proteins) are higher than during regular training. Here are the proportions to aim for:

Carbohydrates, the main fuel for the effort:

  • Represent 60 to 70% of your total caloric intake.
  • Favor complex carbohydrates (pasta, rice, potatoes) that digest more slowly.
  • Think also of quick carbohydrates (gels, energy drinks) for immediate intake during the race.

Fats, sources of long-term energy:

  • Represent 20 to 30% of your caloric intake.
  • Favor unsaturated fatty acids (vegetable oils, fatty fish, nuts).

Proteins, essential for recovery:

  • Represent 10 to 15% of your caloric intake.
  • Favor lean proteins (white meat, fish, eggs, dairy products).

When and How to Eat During an Ultra-Trail?

Your food strategy should be planned in advance and adapted to the duration of the event. Here are our tips for eating well during the race:

Before the Start:

  • Load up on carbohydrates the day before and the morning of the race (pasta, rice, whole grain bread, etc.).
  • Hydrate well from the day before.
  • Avoid foods that are too fatty or spicy that could cause digestive issues.

During the Effort:

  • Eat regularly, every 30 to 45 minutes.
  • Favor easy-to-digest foods: gels, energy bars, dried fruits, sandwiches, etc.
  • Drink frequently to replace water and mineral losses.
  • Adjust your intake according to your feelings and the duration of the effort.

After the Finish:

  • Recover quickly with a meal rich in carbohydrates and proteins.
  • Rehydrate and replace lost minerals.
  • Think about your long-term recovery with a balanced diet in the following days.

Sample Menus for an Ultra-Trail

Here are some sample menus suitable for an ultra-trail:


  • 2 slices of whole grain bread with butter and jam.
  • 1 bowl of cereal with milk.
  • 1 banana.
  • 1 bottle of water (50cl).

During the Race:

  • 1 energy gel every 45 minutes.
  • 1 cereal bar every 1h30.
  • 1 bottle of water (50cl) every 45 minutes.
  • 1 energy drink every 1h30.

After the Finish:

  • 1 chicken and vegetable sandwich.
  • 1 Greek yogurt.
  • 1 banana.
  • 1 bottle of water (50cl).

Additional Tips for Proper Nutrition During an Ultra-Trail

Here are some additional tips to optimize your nutrition during an ultra-trail:

  • Test your foods during training to find the ones that suit you best.
  • Vary your energy sources to avoid getting bored.
  • Pay attention to your sensations and adjust your intake if necessary.
  • Hydrate regularly, even if you are not thirsty.
  • Consider your mineral needs (sodium, potassium, magnesium) and supplement if necessary.
  • Plan for alternative foods in case some do not sit well with you.

By following these tips, you will be well prepared to face your ultra-trail in the best conditions! Feel free to share your feedback and experiences with us.

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