8 Nutrition Tips for Marathon Runners

With spring at our doorstep, you may be leaving the house to take a daily run. If you get to the point that you’re training for a marathon or half-marathon, your diet is as critical as the rest of your physical routine, according to sources at the University of Utah. You need fuel to run—and for your body to recover. To feel your best and stay in top shape for your race:

  1. Add 100 calories a day for every mile you run.
  2. Make carbohydrates 65% of your daily calories. Carbs are stored as glycogen, which is what provides energy.
  3. Focus most on complex carbohydrates. Get your carbs from whole grains, vegetables and some fruits, not from sugar and white bread and pasta.
  4. Make protein 10% of your diet. To get enough protein for muscle repair, aim for roughly 75-100 grams of protein a day. The less you weigh, the less protein you need. A 6- to 8-ounce portion of salmon, chicken or beef gets you about halfway there. Beans, milk, yogurt, peanut butter, cheese and eggs are more good sources of protein.
  5. Make unsaturated fats 20-25% of your daily calories during training. Fat provides your second fuel source after carbs. Munch on nuts and seeds; avocados and fish oils also are strong on these fats.
  6. Take a multivitamin to get enough minerals.
  7. Get enough calcium and iron. If you’re eating dairy for protein, you’re getting some but may need a supplement.
  8. Eat before, during and after a long run to maintain consistent and adequate glycogen levels. Before the run, make it a light snack but carb-heavy—a banana or whole-grain bagel, for example. During the run, eat a complex carb every 30 to 45 minute; an energy bar is one simple solution. After the run, eat protein and carbs within 30 minutes.

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