Nutritional Advice for Marathon Runners

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Nutritional Advice for Marathon Runners

The aim of your eating plan should be to keep your blood sugar levels balanced, and your energy reserves high before the race, during and after.  The reason is that if your blood sugar levels fall too quickly then your will begin to feel fatigued and may have difficulty completing the run.  You need to try to maintain energy stores for as long as possible throughout your running

Eating plan for training:

v  Eat 3 good meals per day and three healthy snacks. You should be aiming to eat about every 3 hours. This will help to maintain your energy levels and prevent blood sugar dips.

v  Each meal should consist of good quality protein, slow releasing carbohydrates and a small amount of fat.  Ie your plate should contain 30% lean protein, 30% starchy slow releasing carbohydrates 30% vegetables and 10% fat.

  • Starchy slow releasing carbs provide instant /medium term energy,
  • protein helps to maintain energy levels throughout your run
  • Vegetables and fruit provide vitamins and minerals and antioxidants
  • Fats provide lubrication for joints and cells.

v  The rule of thumb is for every Kg of body weight you should have at least 1g of protein.  For an average person this equates to  2 eggs,  one piece of fish, 1 chicken breast, one medium tub of hummus, a small packet of mixed nuts and half a pint of skimmed milk. Per day.  Research suggests that we need to eat a good quantity of lean protein to help stabilise blood sugar levels and provide essential amino acids, which are the building blocks for every cell of the body and especially muscles.

v  Eat healthy snacks.  Fruit is excellent but always eat some protein with it.  Eg Banana and a handful of mixed nuts.  Hummus and crudités.

v  Drink at least 2 litres of filtered water per day. Try to avoid alcohol it’s dehydrating and fizzy drinks disturb the electrolyte balance of your cells.

v  Try sports drinks before the event, to ensure you tolerate them well.  They can cause diarrohea.

Eating plan for the day:

v  Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy and so plenty of slow releasing carbs, such as porridge, rye bread, brown rice, wholemeal pasta and beans are good to stock up on, but always include at least 30% protein on your plate.  Protein helps to stabilise blood sugar, helps to maintain energy stores over a longer period and provides essential Amino Acids, which are the building blocks for every cell of your body and in particular muscles cells.

v  Don’t drink too much liquid too quickly.  Ie  Sip filtered water before the race but do not drink too much otherwise the bladder will be full and your electrolyte balance will be disturbed, potentially causing dizziness and fatigue or worse. The key to staying hydrated is to drink on the run.

v  Use sports drinks to provide electrolytes and good hydration.

v  Do not over consume coffee. Whilst it is known to be an ergogenic  aid( increases adrenaline and pumps energy to muscles) it is a diuretic and can cause dehydration.

v  During the race try to drink regular sips of water or sports drinks and if flagging take a sports gel tab.  This provides instant energy.

v  After the race  it is essential to replenish all lost nutrients and energy stores.  Drink plenty of fluid either as a sports drink, water or a protein shake.  Vitamin C is a precursor to the production of many amino acids that help to build and preserve muscle to so eat lots of fresh fruit.  Then lots of slow releasing carbs, for instant energy, a good portion of protein to help restore amino acids and in particular glutamine for muscle recovery,  glutathione to limit tissue damage and several  other AA to ensure cells are replenished.  A fillet steak or salmon steak will do the trick as they contain all the essential amino acids.  If you’re a veggie then lentils and quinoa are good sources of amino acids.


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