Eat Like an Elite: Nutrition for Runners Worksheet

May 25, 2017

You can’t outrun a bad diet.

Those are the obvious, yet true, words about nutrition for runners from my friend and elite running nutritionist Kyle Pfaffenbach, Ph.D.

Runners are constantly asking him (me included) what the “right” approach is to diet and nutrition to be the best runner. He says it’s a trick question because the human body is really complicated and every body is unique. The one thing we do know is that diet can’t be separated from exercise and it’s always a work in progress.

When I attended Brooks Altitude Camp earlier this year, Kyle shared what he uses and recommends as a starting point to the elite runners he counsels on the Brooks Beast elite team. Rather than tracking calories or specific foods, he recommends focusing on macronutrients – protein, fat and carbohydrates – to ensure we’re consuming enough throughout each day to recover and adapt to training. Of course, the information in Kyle’s guide is not meant to substitute for professional medical advice and is simply a reference to help runners create a baseline.

See more from my experience at Brooks Altitude Camp:

What do you think about this macronutrients guide for runners? If you use these guidelines in your own diet, let us know what you think and how it works for you.



Very interesting!!! And why is nutrition so very hard to figure out? I know my needs are constantly changing and, although I do my best, I admit to never getting this specific about it. You have definitely piqued my interest…:-)

Laura @ This Runner's Recipes

I find formulas like this fascinating. I lean more towards intuitive eating when not training, but when training for a marathon or half I try to be more cognizant of exactly what my body needs. I really like the formulas like this or the one in Matt Fitzgerald’s New Rules of Marathon and Half Marathon Nutrition that adjust carbohydrate intake based on the level of activity.

Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes

Wow, this is really interesting. I’ve been tracking my macros for a LONG time and these calculations aren’t even close! This would only give me 1500 calories a day while training for a marathon? I would be hangry constantly! I eat double the amount of carbs that this would give me. Definitely interesting but of course everyone is different!


Did you see the bottom portion that advises to add more carbs based on exercise?


I haven’t. Since I am breastfeeding, I’m not doing anything so structured until I am not breastfeeding anymore, but I thought it was interesting to see what some of the elites are doing, and certainly it is something that we “normal” runners could apply as well given the worksheet. I think there is a little too much tracking for my taste in terms of complexity. 🙂