Marathon Training Diet: Eat to Win

When I trained for my first marathon last fall I knew nutrition was key to any kind of success and I was always trying to find the right balance. Since January is National Health Month I have partnered with Alive Juices, which I reviewed some time ago, to bring you a guest post from Erika Volk on marathon training nutrition. For those currently training for a spring marathon this is a timely topic that I hope you find helpful. And for those like me who are considering a marathon in the fall, useful information to help you plan and run your best race! textgram_1422407130

Training for a marathon is a challenging and time-consuming endeavor! While you are laying out the perfect training program to  shave minutes off of your time, don’t forget about nutrition! A well thought out marathon training diet will help you cross the finish line in good health.

Proper nutrition is essential for many aspects of the marathon training experience. From recovery to race day performance, what you eat will affect how your body responds to the rigors of racing.

Carbohydrate Intake

A trainee should consume 7-10 grams of carbohydrates per a kilogram of body weight each day (2.2 lbs = 1 kg.) On days when  your training volume is high, eat closer to 10 grams per kg of body weight. On light training days you can scale it back to 7 grams.

If you are usually on a low-carb diet, consuming a much higher level of carbs might seem counterintuitive. However your endurance training requires high amounts of carbohydrates to saturate the muscles with glycogen, the stored form of carbohydrate that fuels endurance exercise.

A diets high in carbs should not be a diet high in processed junk foods. Select higher carb foods that are nutrient dense like sweet potatoes and quinoa. Avoid starchy junk foods that lack micronutrients and fiber like sugary cereals and mass produced sandwich breads.

Eat your antioxidants

Runners should consume at least eight servings of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables each day.anti-oxidants Strenuous exercise, like long distance running, will cause you to consume more oxygen and thus your body will be exposed to more free radicals.

Free radicals are compounds that can distress, damage and age your body on a cellular level. Antioxidants are compounds found in many plant foods. They help defend your body from the free radical damage.

Many people have a hard time getting in 8 servings of fruits and veggies each day. If you find this guideline difficult to follow, consider adding a vegetable and fruit juice blend to your diet. We recommend our Morning Sunshine juice blend because it provides antioxidant protection and it contains pineapple, which has anti-inflammatory properties.

Protein Intake

Training will cause damage to your muscles on a microscopic level. In order for your body to repair this damage it will need amino acids, the compounds the body uses to build muscle. Amino acids are found in dietary protein. Trainees should consume 1.2 to 1.4 grams of protein per a kg of bodyweight each day.

Essential amino acids are a group of amino acids that cannot be reproduced by the body and can only be obtained through your diet. Throughout your training you should try to include sources of essential amino acids into your menu. Meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and quinoa are all good sources of amino acids.

The right fats

When you are endurance training 20 to 35% of your daily calorie consumption should be from fats. Most folks do not struggle to get an adequate amount of fat into their diet. However not all fat are created equally and many people do not eat enough high quality fats. 

Source: WebMD.com

Source: WebMD.com

Omega-3 fats are particularly beneficial for heart health and they have anti-inflammatory properties that could aid in your recovery. Try to add omega 3 rich foods into your diet. Good sources of omega 3’s include fatty fish, algae, flaxseed and omega 3 enriched eggs.

Nutrition is an essential part of any endurance athletes training program. Making good nutrition your training buddy will ensure that you have a healthy and successful racing season.

Source: “Marathon Fueling,” http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/030810p36.shtml

Erika is a certified personal trainer, Nutrition Coach, and fitness writer. She holds certifications from the American Council on Exercise (ACE), TRX Suspension Training Systems, Precision Nutrition. Erika lives with her husband in a small beach town somewhere in Costa Rica. Her hobbies include cooking, hiking, learning to speak Spanish and traveling. At erikavolkfitness.com you’ll find at-home workout plans, healthy cooking tips, and stories about her life in Costa Rica.

20 thoughts on “Marathon Training Diet: Eat to Win

  1. This is a great post. I think people are SO afraid of fats. I have so many moms saying to me that they won’t eat something because it has too much fat and they need low fat. I’ve been trying to convince them of the opposite. Of course it’s the “good” fats you need, but I find that when I eat the right fats but hunger is curbed tremendously!
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  2. These are really great tips. Eating for performance is SO different from eating for aesthetics, and a lot of runners I work with really struggle with accepting that. By your guidelines I would need to eat 540 grams of carbs on a more intense training day – I think everyone I know would freak out if I told them I ate that! But I agree that it’s so important for maintaining your energy and recovering properly.
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