Even when you consume energy chews, gels and sports drinks, your long run may leave you dragging in the twilight miles. ‘On runs over 14 miles, carb-only fuel often leaves runners hungry. Protein and fat take longer to digest, so adding them to the mix delivers more sustained energy to prevent crashing,’ says Anne Mauney, a dietitian and marathon runner.
She also points out that fat and protein can cause gut distress mid-run, so it's best to test alternate fuels on shorter runs first. Energy bites are trendy sources of fuel that are made with nuts, dried fruit and flavour enhancers like cocoa powder and shredded coconut. ‘It's hard to mess these up,’ says Mauney. Blend your ingredients in a food processor, roll into balls, and store in the fridge for your next run. If you can't stomach fat or protein midrun, snack on these for recovery.
All About That Base
Aim for one to one and a half parts nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts, walnuts or a mixture) to one part dried fruit (dates, raisins, apricots, and cranberries supply a hit of quick-burning carbs; tart cherries contain inflammation-reducing anthocyanin compounds). This ratio ensures that you don't go too heavy on fat or fibre, which can weigh you down.
Everything But the Kitchen Sink
Add mix-ins to taste. Try shredded coconut, oats, dried goji berries or blueberries, and hemp, chia or sesame seeds. Use protein powders or nut butters for your post-run energy bites.
Sugar 'n' Spice
Enhance taste with maple syrup or honey, both of which supply sugar for quick energy. Also try vanilla extract, cocoa powder, citrus zest or spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric). Instant espresso powder provides a tasty, caffeinated boost.
Pump up the Crunch
Fold in your favourite texture boosters, such as cacao nibs or crispy brown-rice cereal (Nature's Path Crispy Rice, £3.00 for 284g, amazon.com) – a fan favourite because it's easy on the stomach.
Pass the Salt
You don't have to go overboard: just a few shakes will give your body the sodium it needs to replenish the electrolytes lost through sweat. To avoid squishing, pack your bites into a ziplock bag and store in your fuel belt.