Fueling your race: What to eat before, during and after a marathon

Victoria Witrak, RD, a dietitian at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Middle in Bellingham, Washington solutions some questions concerning the do’s and don’ts of fueling for a long-distance race.

What meals ought to I keep away from altogether when getting ready for a marathon?

With regards to vitamin and coaching, everybody’s metabolic wants and race targets are totally different. 
I’m always working with sufferers on altering our narrative round meals restriction. Suppose extra about add nourishing meals fairly than take meals away. The one strong suggestion is to keep away from including a completely new meals inside per week of race day. Be sure to’ve been consuming the meals you intend to devour day-of so your physique is used to them.

What’s “carb-loading” and when ought to I do it?

Carbohydrates are our major supply of gas burned throughout extended train. Consuming carb-rich meals earlier than race day may help benefit from your glycogen — the supply of saved power within the liver. For those who don’t have sufficient glycogen shops on race day, you may really feel fatigued. You may also discover decreased endurance. 

Carb-loading means consuming extra carbohydrates than you usually eat two to 3 days earlier than your race. As a basic rule, eat a minimum of 3-5 grams of carbs per one pound of physique weight. Your particular plan will rely in your particular person coaching wants.  

On the morning of a giant race, when and what ought to I eat and drink?

I like to recommend a carb- and protein-rich breakfast two to 3 hours prior to start out time. Attempt to eat a minimum of 50 grams of carbs on this meal. An instance can be two items of toast with nut butter and one banana. Then eat a carb-rich snack, reminiscent of a pureed fruit pouch, 15 to half-hour earlier than racing.

When it comes to fluid, attempt to drink 16 to twenty ounces with electrolytes earlier than a race. It’s essential that you simply begin your race correctly hydrated and never even barely dehydrated. 

Hydration and electrolytes throughout coaching grow to be simply as essential as your gas plan. Take into account solely consuming espresso in the event you’re used to it. Don’t go overboard. Caffeine may cause abdomen upset. It’s additionally a diuretic, which suggests you may must pee extra usually.

What ought to I eat throughout a run?

There’s vital proof for the advantages of consuming carbs, limiting fats and limiting fiber throughout intense train. That is very true in the event you’re exercising for greater than two hours. Take into account consuming round 30 to 60 grams of carbs per hour. Consuming carbs throughout train additionally helps drive water into your cells. 

As I discussed earlier, eat solely the meals you’ve been consuming throughout coaching. You don’t need to introduce a brand new meals your physique isn’t used to.

Examples of carbs to eat throughout your run: 

  • Dried fruit
  • Fig bars
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • candy potatoes 
  • Waffles 
  • Gels, that are usually a mix of sugars with out fats, fiber or protein. With gels particularly, it is best to use them in coaching to be sure you can tolerate them.

How a lot water ought to I drink throughout a race?

You possibly can lose as much as two p.c physique weight by way of sweat/dehydration when exercising. That’s sufficient to gradual you down or make you are feeling drained. It’s why staying hydrated throughout train is so essential. 

Take into account additionally consuming electrolytes, which assist us stability fluids and optimally use our muscular tissues. (An imbalance in electrolytes can result in muscle cramps and weak spot.) Throughout a race, purpose to absorb about 16 ounces of water and/or electrolytes. Relying on how a lot you sweat, you’ll additionally need a minimum of 300 milligrams of sodium per hour.

Is there such a factor as consuming an excessive amount of water?

Sure. This could result in hyponatremia (low sodium). Having too little in your system might be deadly. This isn’t to scare runners away from consuming water. Simply purpose for a secure middle-ground.

What ought to I eat and drink after the race to assist me get better?

Go for balanced snacks and meals with protein and sophisticated carbs, like beans, oats, rice, candy potato, fruit and veggies. This helps restore your muscle and replenish glycogen shops. It’s finest to eat inside 30 to 60 minutes after train. 

Many people lose one to 5 kilos of sweat per hour whereas exercising, relying on climate situations. You’ll need to drink 125 p.c of the fluids you misplaced. An instance of an important grab-and-go post-race drink is chocolate milk. 

In case you have a delicate abdomen, restrict meals which may trigger your system to really feel upset. Frequent culprits embrace excessive fructose meals and drinks, fats, fiber, sugar alcohols and cruciferous greens like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.

Victoria, an off-the-cuff runner herself, earned her grasp’s diploma in vitamin and dietetics from Bastyr College in Seattle, then accomplished a distance internship by way of the College of Texas—Houston with rotations within the College of Washington system. She has a particular curiosity in sports activities drugs and intestine well being.