Eating for Endurance : Marathon Nutrition 101

December 21, 2022

If your goal is to delay fatigue, boost your energy levels and help you with a complete recovery during a race, what you eat and when you eat are the two things that should be considered. Following the below listed ways will give you an edge at your game and eventually enhance your performance 

1. Increase Carbohydrate consumption :

Gradually increase your carbohydrate intake in the days leading up to the marathon. Increasing your intake of carbohydrates during that period can help ensure that you have enough stored glycogen to last through the marathon because carbohydrates are the primary fuel for endurance exercise. You can choose rice, animal meat, and millet as a source of carbohydrates.

2. Practice eating your meal before the race:

During your training, it's a good idea to eat the meal you want to eat on race day a few times to see how your body reacts to it. On race day, this could help you avoid any digestive issues.

3. On race day, don't try anything new. 

Trying new foods, supplements, or ways to hydrate is not a good idea. Avoid any potential digestive issues by sticking to what you know works for you.The best time to try new foods is the training period.

4. Consume enough protein:

Protein is important for muscle recovery and repair, but carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for endurance exercise. To ensure that your muscles are supported throughout the marathon, add good quality protein sources to your meal. You can choose between animal meat,eggs or even legumes.

5. Maintain adequate hydration in the days leading up to the marathon:

Proper hydration is essential for optimal performance. Drink at least 400 to 500ml of water a few hours before the race, and stay away from diuretics like alcohol and caffeine.

TIME: 8:00 a.m. event, like a race on the road. 

MEALS: The day before, consume a meal high in carbohydrates and drink more water. Eat a light meal of 200 to 400 calories on the morning of the event, around 6:00 or 6:30 a.m., with additional water, such as oat meal and a banana or one or two energy bars. 

If you want a more substantial meal, you should get up and eat between 5:00 and 6:00. Eat your meal the night before if your body cannot handle a breakfast before early morning exercise. 

Post-Run Nutrition The question of what to eat before a run is similar to post-run nutrition. A combination of carbohydrates and proteins has been shown to improve recovery after intense endurance exercise.

1. Eat somewhere around 30 minutes of wrapping up

Beginning refuelling straightaway after the race is significant. Within the first 30 minutes after finishing, try to eat a combination of carbohydrates and protein. Glycogen stores can be refilled, and this can accelerate the recovery process.

2. Don’t avoid the fibre

Despite the significance of carbohydrates and protein, fibre should not be overlooked. Fiber can assist with assimilation and can likewise assist with recovery by decreasing aggravation. Your post-marathon meals should include a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

3. Consider utilising a recovery drink

Recovery beverages can be a helpful method for getting a blend of sugars, protein, and electrolytes in a single serving. Look for a recovery drink with a protein-to-carbohydrate ratio of 3:1 or 4:1.

4. Eat enough calories. 

Eating enough calories is important to support recovery and repair if you've lost a lot of weight during the race. Don't be afraid to consume more calories in the days following the marathon.

5. Try out a variety of foods: 

Individuals respond differently to different foods. Make sure to try other things with various food sources and blends of food varieties to see what turns out best for you. Keep a food diary to track your food intake and how you feel after eating certain foods.

Remember that everyone is unique and may require different amounts of nutrition. It is always recommended to talk to an expert sports nutritionist a customized diet protocol which will support and enhance your performance.

Meryn Aricatt
Sports Nutritionist

Meryn, with a Master’s in Sports Science, is a pivotal member of the 'Evolve' vertical at iThrive, specializing in sports nutrition. She operates under the philosophy that "Nutrition can elevate a good athlete to greatness." Beyond her role at iThrive, Meryn imparts her expertise as an instructor for both the Functional Sports Nutrition and the Functional Nutrition Certification courses at iThrive Academy. She is passionate about helping sportspersons enhance their performance, ensuring they lead healthier, happier lives through the power of sports nutrition.

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