Eating well is an important component of training that is often overlooked and there is definitely a lot to know about how to fuel properly for a marathon. A nutritious diet will help ensure you get to the starting line healthy and ready to run. You have already researched everything from training schedules to course logistics to the best sweat wicking clothing on the market. So, why not be prepared on how to fuel properly for a marathon, This is important before, during and after your race. In the weeks leading up to the main event, focus on these guidelines to energize your daily intake:
Table of contents:
- eat a variety of colorful fresh fruits and vegetables
- select low-fat or fat-free dairy products
- focus on eating more 100% whole grain carbohydrates instead of those made with refined white flour
- reduce your intake of artery clogging saturated fats by choosing leaner cuts of meat, skinless poultry and fish
- drink water
- limit alcohol consumption
- do not try eating anything new within the few days leading up to the race
- bring sports drinks, gels or bars to the race
- search the web for local dining and review menus prior to getting into town
- eat your pre-race meal approximately 2 to 3 hours before the start
- sip on water and/or a sports beverage throughout the morning
- around the 45-60 minute mark begin taking your carbohydrate replacement of choice
1 Eat a Variety of Colorful Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
When you're figuring out how to fuel properly for a marathon, look no further than fresh fruits and veggies. They are packed with antioxidants that ward off any colds looking to get in the way of your training. Research shows that it is most beneficial to take in antioxidants from food sources rather than popping supplements so load up on produce today.
2 Select Low-fat or Fat-free Dairy Products
Dairy foods are an excellent source of muscle repairing protein and bone building calcium. The National Institute of Health recommends that adults between the ages of 19-50 years of age should consume 1,000 mg of calcium daily. Research also shows that chocolate milk is the best thing to drink after training, as well as after the race itself.
3 Focus on Eating More 100% Whole Grain Carbohydrates Instead of Those Made with Refined White Flour
Add beans, legumes and nuts into your meal plan. These foods are an excellent source of fiber which aides in bowel motility, prevents chronic diseases and promotes satiety. They also give you complex carbs, which is great for the energy you need to run.
4 Reduce Your Intake of Artery Clogging Saturated Fats by Choosing Leaner Cuts of Meat, Skinless Poultry and Fish
Heart healthy fish (i.e. salmon) contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are proven to lower your risk factor for cardiovascular disease. They also give your body energy and help you train for your big race.
5 Drink Water
Doctor it up by adding or squeezing fresh fruit into your glass. Limit and avoid sugary beverages and sodas. Proper hydration helps prevent fatigue and maintains mental alertness, both during training and on race day. Studies report that exercise performance is hindered when one has lost 2% of their body weight due to dehydration so be sure to sip often.
6 Limit Alcohol Consumption
Overindulgence will lead to never getting out of bed for a workout! Consider what is most important to you for the next few months. Waking up, ready to check off a long run from your to do list or spending the day curing a hangover.
7 Do Not Try Eating Anything New within the Few Days Leading up to the Race
This is not the time to test what your stomach can handle. Avoid sampling uncharted foods and beverages in the days leading up to your race. Better safe than sorry.
8 Bring Sports Drinks, Gels or Bars to the Race
While away from home, you are never quite certain if you will be able to purchase your tried and true products! Bring them with you so you can refuel as you run.
9 Search the Web for Local Dining and Review Menus Prior to Getting into Town
Make a reservation in advance and request an early seating. Keep your dinner meal the night before the race bland, adequate in protein and rich in carbohydrates. There is nothing wrong with eating white pasta in marinara sauce topped with grilled chicken or fish.
10 Eat Your Pre-race Meal Approximately 2 to 3 Hours before the Start
It is a good idea to get up early to fuel, digest and engage in any pre-race rituals. Once again, this meal should be high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein and low in fat. Try a plain bagel with a smear of peanut butter and banana slices.
11 Sip on Water and/or a Sports Beverage Throughout the Morning
This will help you stay hydrated. Drinking too much or too little during the marathon may pose race day problems. Current research suggests “drinking to thirst” for optimal hydration. Remember, you cannot rely on water alone during the marathon. You will need to replenish your energy. Opting for a sports beverage can help support both your fluid and carbohydrate needs.
12 Around the 45-60 Minute Mark Begin Taking Your Carbohydrate Replacement of Choice
Aim to consume 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour of running. This will keep your energy up and help you finish the race strong.
You did your best to eat more healthfully and loaded up on plenty of the suggestions listed above. Gun time will be here in a few short days. Now, you will need to tweak your diet once again. Eat foods low in fat and fiber to prevent any gastrointestinal disturbances. Make sure you boost your carbohydrate and fluid intake and keep your protein consumption moderate. At this time, it is okay to select foods from refined carbohydrate sources (i.e. bagels, pretzels, pasta).
You have successfully crossed the finish line. Post race party time is here. Where is that free beer? Wait! After months of training, social life sacrifices and tons of hard work, you need to end this on a good note. It is very important to adequately tank up after running 26.2 miles. At the finish line, please take a water bottle and more carbohydrates (i.e. sports beverage, fruit, pretzels or a bagel). You may actually want to eat a few of the snacks offered! Consume a hearty meal within an 1 1/2 to 2 hours of finishing the race. Congratulations on a job well done and I bet you will back next year.
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