How Many Carbs During Endurance Effort?

How Many Carbs During Endurance Effort?

Carbohydrate intake during endurance efforts improves performance. But what is the optimal dose?

In recent years, endurance sports have been democratized, sometimes seen as a means to maintain good health, sometimes as a means of surpassing oneself. The endurance athlete looking for performance, is always looking for the little extra that will save precious seconds, or allow him to complete the last few kilometers without much suffering. For this reason the nutrition during the effort seems as important as that preceding the test, in particular as regards the carbohydrate supply.

According to a meta-analysis carried out in 2016 by Austrian, German and Swiss researchers, taking a certain amount of carbohydrates during the effort can improve performance. In cross-checking the data from different studies, they noticed that the ingestion of certain percentages of carbohydrates was beneficial but only during efforts greater than 90 minutes. This study is especially for cyclists.


  • The best performance rates were recorded with solutions containing 6-8% carbohydrate (glucose polymer and sucralose).
  • The best performance was obtained with the ingestion of a solution containing 12% of carbohydrates (glucose and fructose polymers).
  • With a solution containing 18% of carbohydrates, the majority of the athletes suffered during the effort of gastrointestinal problems and the performance was not higher.

Conclusion: during efforts greater than 90 min the ingestion of a solution containing 6 to 12% of carbohydrates would allow the improvement of the performance.



Martin Pöchmüller, Lukas Schwingshackl, Paolo C. Colombani, and Georg Hoffmann. A systematic review and meta-analysis of carbohydrate benefits associated with randomized controlled competition-based performance trials. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2016.

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