Marathon training is one of the most challenging tasks for athletes and your diet may play a major role in your marathon training success.
Your daily energy comes from the foods you eat each day while calories provide the body with energy, not all foods are created equal when it comes to performance.
With that in mind, your diet should provide you with energy that should keep you moving throughout your marathon training.
6 Dieting Tips to Fuel your Marathon Training
1. Eat a Balanced Diet.
Running a marathon is generally a good excuse for some adults to indulge in as many calories as possible, without taking notice of the nutrients consumed.
It is easy to think that after burning over 1,000 calories over the course of a single run should allow you to eat anything you desire. While adding more nutrients to your diet is important, you should be mindful that a well-balanced diet is most important.
Consider eating a well-balanced diet that includes carbs, protein, and fat that can support your energy needs. Adding more fat to your diet can help you on your long run days.
2. Eat Healthy Carbs.
Some sources state that you should eat carbs as a way to store as much glycogen as you can for your runs, but the truth is this should not matter for long distance runs.
Carbohydrates is used to provide fast bursts of energy, which is not what you do during a marathon. For this reason, increasing the amount of fat you eat each day can help to give you the fuel you need for long distance runs, but also make sure to eat healthy carbs.
Consider eating carbs that provide energy that take longer to break down. Some foods to aim for include oats, whole wheat options, and slow digesting foods.
3. Proper Hydration.
One of the most important aspects in your marathon training is proper hydration. Marathon training can certainly increase your body’s demands of water replenishment.
Studies have shown that proper hydration can help to cut back on fluid loss and help to improve performance among endurance athletes, suggesting that proper hydration may be the trick to success in your training.
While there is no magic amount of water you should drink for adequate hydration, you should sip some water throughout your day for best results.
In addition, aim to drink up to two glasses of water and electrolytes before your run as a way to promote proper hydration.
4. Avoid Simple Sugars.
Despite what you may have heard from others about long distance running, you should skip on fast energy sources whenever you can (except when you are in the middle of a run).
Simple sugars are the type of nutrients that provide fast bursts of energy and they are usually the worst kind of carbs you can consume.
Consider skipping on these sugars during your training period to help your body have proper blood sugar balance.
One of the best things you can do for your body is a post-run protein shake. Protein shakes loaded with whey aid in adding amino acids back into your body as a way to prevent muscle wasting.
Consider making a protein shake added with electrolytes after each of your runs. Consider drinking your protein within 60 minutes of your workout, as this is when your body’s absorption of this nutrient is most abundant.
6. Eat You Energy.
It is important to eat a sufficient amount of calories throughout your training regimen. While you should avoid junk foods during your training, there may be days when you need to add a fourth healthy meal to your daily diet.
With that said, on your long run days, consider eating anywhere from 2500-3000 calories each day, depending on your body size. This will help to prevent you from feeling famished and to avoid any food binges that can occur.
Getting in shape for your marathon can be a challenging goal to reach and it seems that you could gain some benefit by consuming about 10 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight within two days of a long run (or the marathon itself).
This mostly applies to runners who perform interval training as a way to get in shape for longer distances; however, runners should make sure to have a well-balanced diet which includes carbs and fats prior to any training regimen.
Read Next: Eating Before Workout: Is It Necessary?
In addition, supplementing with whey protein before or after your training sessions can help to prevent muscle wasting.
While competitive athletes may have some advantage to nutrient timing in marathon running, the general adult should simply aim to eat a well-balanced and healthy diet.
A balanced diet can provide sufficient energy to last through a long run, so that your energy stores do not deplete. In addition, while scheduling your meals around your training may have some perks, the best thing the general population can do is to hydrate, eat sensibly before workouts, and supplement with protein before or after training.