Endurance Sports Nutrition
In addition to training, marathon runners must also focus on their diet. A healthy diet will significantly influence your marathon training and race-day performance. An adequate diet in terms of quantity and quality,
before, during and after, training and competition, will maximize
results for marathon runners.The following 4 steps will help marathon runners develop a diet that will maximize their performance.
- Carbohydrate loading
- Things to consider when planning your pre-competition nutrition
- Strategies to reduce stomach and gut upsets
- Pre-competition meal ideas
- Pre-competition fluids
- Strategies to meet your competition nutrition goals
- Nutrition for after your event
- Strategies to restore your fluid and electrolyte balance
- Strategies to replace used glycogen stores
- Strategies to help the repair of muscle damage
- Hints for the post-event diet
- Main points about your competition diet
Step 4 ? Special Nutrition Issues
Be aware of special diet issues for marathon runners in order to make decisions to maximize performance.
- Alcohol & Athletes
- Carbo Loading
- Female Athletes
- Weight Management
What are the basic diet requirements for marathon runners?
- Basic nutritional requirements are the foundation for healthy eating.
- When you eat enough food to meet basic requirements, you provide you
body with just enough nutrients for energy and to maintain health and
- Growth, tissue damage, repair and stressful environments can increase nutritional needs.
What happens if marathon runners are not meeting basic diet requirements?
- If marathon runners are not eating enough food to meet basic diet
requirements their bodies will not get enough nutrients and nutritional
inadequacies may start to occur.
- Symptoms include chronic tiredness, frequent illness, poor concentration, poor performance and poor recovery.
What are the nutrients a marathon runner needs and what do they do?
Provides the superior fuel source for muscles during physical exercise.
Carbohydrate is stored in limited amounts only and needs to be
continually replenished. To learn more about carbohydrate and
carbo-loading click here
Helps keep bowels regular and can help reduce blood cholesterol.
Marathon runners may need to decrease fibre pre-competition to prevent
Essential in the growth and repair of all body tissues, including muscle
and bone; hormone and enzyme production; optimal immune function.
Protein is also a minor source of energy. To learn more about protein click here
Provides the most concentrated and largest source of energy. Fat
provides most of the energy for daily activity. Required for normal
growth and healthy skin, production of certain hormones, structural
component of body cells, supply of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
To learn more about fat click here
Vitamin B Complex
Involved in carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism. B12 and folate are required for red blood cell production.
absorption, acts as an antioxidant (antioxidants ?mop up? free
radicals, preventing cell damage), increases energy production, is
necessary for the synthesis of collagen for the formation of connective
tissue and bone.
An antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage caused by free radicals.
Free radicals are substances that cause cell damage. As a result of
greater oxygen uptake athletes have higher levels of free radicals.
Antioxidants ?mop up? free radicals, preventing cell damage.
Required for the formation of haemoglobin and myoglobin, the
oxygen-carrying components of red blood cells and muscle cells
respectively. Required for energy reactions to take place. To learn more
Essential for normal growth, reproduction, immune system function and energy production in muscle cells.
Guidelines for marathon runners to meet basic diet requirements
Eat a variety of food from each of the four major food groups each
day (breads and cereals; vegetables and fruits; milk, dairy products and
milk substitutes, especially low-fat varieties; lean meats, poultry,
fish, eggs, nuts and meat substitutes like lentils, chickpeas, soy beans
and other beans).
Choose pre-prepared foods, drinks and snacks that are low in fat (especially saturated fat) and salt. To learn more about fat click here
Maintain a healthy body weight by regular physical activity (which
should not be a problem for marathon runners!) and by healthy eating. To
read more on weight management for marathon runners click here
If drinking alcohol do so in moderation. To learn how alcohol can affect your athletic performance click here
Remember that the above are general nutrition guidelines
that provide the foundation for a healthy diet. As a marathon runners
you need to get your basic diet right before you begin to work on your
training and competition diet.
You as a marathon runner should eat a wide variety from each of the
food groups (breads and cereals; vegetables and fruits; milk, dairy
products and milk substitutes; lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts;
fluids) to ensure you get the nutrients your body needs. In doing this
you will also have interesting and satisfying meals.
To review a table of examples of a serving of the
various food groups and the daily level necessary to meet your basic
Are you meeting your basic nutritional requirements?
Rule up a chart under the headings;
- Breads and cereal (recommended serves ? 6)
- Vegetables and fruits (recommended serves ? 2 fruit & 3 vege)
- Milk, dairy products and milk substitutes (recommended serves ? 2)
- Meat and meat substitutes (recommended serves ? 1)
- Fluids (recommended serves ? 8 cups)
Record what you eat for a day in the food groups. Tally the number of
serves you had from each food group and compare with the recommended
If you have not met the recommended servings you need to begin by
trying to meet these basic diet requirements. Supplements are not the
answer! Often when marathon runners reach for supplements they choose
supplements that are not appropriate for their needs anyway. Marathon
runners sometimes forget that the goodness they try to get from
supplements has been scientifically proven to be of most benefit when
found in its natural form in food.
Write down one goal that you will work on over the next week to
improve your baseline nutrition. For example: ?My goal this week is to
increase my daily servings of vegetables from one to three.?
Write down your ideas for a meal plan that will enable to you meet your nutritional goals.
Why do you need a nutritional plan for marathon training?
You need a nutritional plan for marathon training to ensure you are
meeting your body?s increased nutrient requirements. These increased
nutrient requirements will depend on your training volumes, frequency
and intensity. Your requirements will also vary during the different
training phases of the year. The skills you learn when designing your
nutritional plan for training can be used to individualize your plan.
Following sound nutrition practices is most important
during marathon training. If you think about it, you spend most of your
time training and this is largely what determines your performance in
competition. Good nutrition will help you maximize your training and
your competition performance. Your nutrition on competition day is just
fine-tuning of your training nutrition. To read more about nutrition
during marathon training click here
Competition nutrition is an extension of training nutrition. The
correct nutritional strategies before, during and after competition will
help you achieve the ultimate goal: your best possible marathon
Planning your meals for competition is a good way of
focusing on your marathon event. By knowing when, what and how much you
are going to eat and drink, you can be confident that you have the best
possible nutritional preparation. Planning ensures that the food you
want is available, whether you?re at home or traveling. To read more
about nutrition during competition click here
Courtesy of marathon-training-program.com