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What to Eat When You’re Training for a Marathon

What to Eat When You’re Training for a Marathon

Training plans are easy to get ahold of, but what about eating?

Preparing properly for a race involves your stomach as well as your legs.

Michael Phelps consumes 12,000 calories per day in training.

Seriously? Your face right now is how we feel, somewhere along the lines of, ‘Wait, what — is that even — but how could he… why would he?’ Don’t freak out, because we’re going to break it down. And pasta. Why does he eat this insane amount of food? Because he’s won 22 Olympic medals. In other words, it’s the diet of champions.

Click here to see the What to Eat When You're Training For a Marathon (Slideshow)

Which can’t help but beg the question: Why aren’t we all in training? If it means you can eat whatever you want, let’s all hit the gym and go straight to CiCi’s pizza and pasta buffet!

Of course, you get the problem: You’re not Michael Phelps (sorry). The unfortunate underbelly of training is the illusion (and confusion) it creates about nutrition. Extra activity seems to warrant extra indulgent food, but the reality is, if you don’t fuel your workouts wisely, you won’t get as much out of them as you could.

Let's say you're preparing for something more common and just as amazing as the Olympics: a marathon, be it Chicago in October or New York in November. Chances are, you treat your training schedule pretty seriously — maybe you even have a workout plan for every day leading up to the race. If someone said to you, "What're you training so hard for? It's not the Olympics!" you'd probably want to use some choice words. "Yeah, but it's still a marathon!"

For most runners, a marathon represents the ultimate goal. (Ultramarathoners are in their own catagory.) So, to succeed in the ultimate feat, you need the ultimate plan when it comes to working out — and eating. We here at The Daily Meal have got the latter covered. Just follow our key diet tips — they're easier than a 26.2-mile race — and bring out your inner Olympian.

So you have decided to do it&mdashtrain and run in a upcoming marathon. You figured with the right exercise regimen, time, and dedication you will be able to cross this off your bucket list. You spend hours researching how to manage your time and workout plan so that you can build up the stamina and strength needed for this adventure. Now that you have a plan mapped out, you are almost ready to get started and train. The one piece remaining is figuring out a solid diet plan that will allow you to have the proper fuel to allow you to make it to the finish line.

Getting in shape to run a marathon, or compete in any vigorous sport for that matter, requires a combination of regular exercise and proper nutrition. It is important to recognize that in order to reap the benefits of exercise, you need the right diet to ensure that you can properly fuel your body and build muscle. As you get further and further along in training for the marathon you will find that what you eat can truly impact how long it takes you to complete the race.

Carbohydrates First
When it comes to fueling your body, it is important to incorporate all three macronutrients, however one is most important. When it comes to long distance running it is carbohydrates that serve as the main source of fuel. It is most important to opt for complex carbohydrates over simple sugars, as they are digested more slowly, giving you longer lasting energy. They will be used to serve as fuel, and will replenish and maintain glycogen stores. Carbohydrates should provide about 60-70% of total calories while training for an endurance sport. The recommendation for a marathon runner is about 7 to 10 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight during the training period. These complex carbohydrates include foods like whole grain bread and pasta, cereal, brown rice, oatmeal, vegetables and low fat dairy foods.

Protein and Fats
The other two macronutrients, protein and fat, should both also be part of a balanced diet. It is important to consider the fact that protein is needed for muscle growth and repair, while fat has been shown to improve endurance. In general a person, who is not training, needs about .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. When training the recommendation goes up to about 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Protein should make up about 15% of total calories per day. Without enough protein while training, the body will break down muscle to fuel the body when running long distances. With the right amount of protein in the diet, the body will be able to continue to build and maintain lean muscle mass. Read more: How much protein do you really need? Consuming enough fat, in the form of healthy fats such as avocado and nuts, has been shown to increase endurance for marathon runners. Endurance athletes should consume less than 30% of total calories from fat, with less than 1% from saturated fat. By having fat in the diet, your muscles will burn more fat and less carbohydrate as you run. The addition of fat will allow for you to run longer distances, as your muscle carbohydrate stores will not become depleted.

Related: Meat is not the only source of protein check out these plant protein sources for athletes and active people

Timing It Out
When deciding how often to eat and at what time, it is important to revolve this around the training run schedule. It is recommended that one should eat a light snack or mini meal one to two hours prior to going on a training run. This is important in order to fuel the body, while also giving your body a chance to digest the food prior to starting your run. Then be sure to plan for meals after your run to replace your body with the appropriate nutrients to replace energy and rebuild muscle. It is also important to be sure you drink throughout the day to stay hydrated at all times.

Sample Meal Plan for Runners
It is important to keep in mind that eating a well balanced diet will enhance your performance time when it comes to training for a marathon. This means one should think about taking in nutrient dense meals and snacks, and keeping in mind the need to incorporate all three micronutrients. It is recommended to start the day with a complex carbohydrate, along with a rich protein source. And of course adding fruit will provide additional fiber and nutrients. Some examples are: Greek yogurt with berries and whole grain cereal, oatmeal made topped with fruit, or a smoothie made with fruit or veggies, milk and bananas. Lunch might include whole grain bread with turkey, avocado and greens or a salad with chicken, beans, and vegetables along with whole grain crackers. Dinner can include a piece of grilled salmon, sautéed string beans and sweet potato or chicken, broccoli and brown rice. The importance of your meal plan is to be sure to provide rich sources of complete proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.

It is just as important that in addition to three balanced meals, you add in healthy snacks. Feeding your body on a regular basis allows for improved digestion and allows for your metabolism to remain intact. Also, these snacks should be coordinated with the training schedule, as it is important to refuel your body after a workout. These snacks or mini-meals should also be nutrient dense to meet the bodies needs, and maximize your ability to prepare for the marathon. Snacks can include fruit and nuts, or peanut butter on crackers.

Hydration for Endurance Athletes
In addition to a carefully laid out meal plan, it is important to consider hydration. A runner must keep in mind that as they sweat they will be losing body weight, and can compromise their fluid balance. In fact losing as little as 2 percent of your body weight, through water loss, can have a significant impact on performance and recovery. Water should remain the main source of fluids, with a daily intake of at least 6 to 8 glasses of water and more during the actual training. While training, it is suggested that one add in about 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes that you are running. For those running extra long distances, upward of an hour, might find the need to add in sports drinks for additional electrolytes.

Off to a Good Start
By taking the time to plan out a training schedule along with a balanced diet, you will be well on your way to finishing your first marathon. Take the time to understand the various macronutrients your body needs to give it the proper fuel and allow for your muscles to repair. As you get closer to the date of the marathon, learn about what to eat leading up the big day, what to eat the morning of the race and best post recovery foods. Just a little planning and you will easily be able to go the distance and cross that finish line.

If we looked at a pyramid of what matters most when it comes to our running performance a lot of people would be disappointed to realize that all the running supplements and recovery tools are near the top (meaning least important, but still useful once you nail down your nutrition).

This pyramid is a great way to put where you spend your time in perspective.

What we&rsquove all come to learn is that every body works differently in regards to fueling and race day nutrition, but the one thing that all endurance athletes NEED GOOD QUALITY food the 75% of time they&rsquore not training.

What should long distance runners eat?

The number of calories runners need depends a great deal on body size, speed and percentage of calories burned from carbs or fat.

I fully recommend working with someone to make those determinations, but you can use online calculators to get you starts.

However, as I’ve stated previously with those calculators I’d be eating enough to gain weight, not maintain and definitely not lose body fat.

  • You don’t want to have massive calorie deficits, which can lead to energy swings that make training harder
  • You don’t want a high volume of calories from sugary processed foods which cause inflammation
  • You do need to plan ahead for meals to eat enough quality foods

I do NOT like to share what I eat because there’s no guarantee it will work for you, but in Macros for Runners there is a sample day of eating from one runner and I will give you and idea of mine now.

In the following sections we’ll breakdown each component of during a workout, carbs and protein.

Marathon Runners Diet Plan Example

Following is a sample day from while I was running 50 miles per week, strength training 3 days and worked with someone to figure out how to keep my energy steady.

  • Pre-run: 1/2 scoop protein powder with 12 oz water (usually some green juice), + 1 tbsp nut butter + 1/2 cup cheerios (I’m usually only awake for 30 minutes or so before I run, so I keep is small and fast)
  • Breakfast: 1 slice Ezekiel bread, 2 oz avocado, 1 turkey hot dog, clementine and 1/2 scoop protein powder
  • Snack: 1 slice Ezekiel cinnamon raisin bread, 2 tbsp nut butter, 1/2 apple
  • Lunch: 4-5 oz chicken breast, 2 cups greens, 4 oz baked potato (usually a piece of dark chocolate too)
  • Snack: 1 cup cheerios (I love cereal), 2 tbsp nut butter and often some jerky
  • Dinner: 5 oz ground turkey, 4 oz sweet potato, asparagus
  • Snack: 1/2 Perfect Bar

Not so much in to meat? Checkout this post on transitioning to be a plant based marathon runner.

You can definitely be a vegan runner, but you need to do the proper planning to not only hit your calorie goals, but the amount of protein needed to ensure you maintain muscle.

Especially for females who may have issues with low iron, which can cause a host of issues.

What is the best diet for marathon training?

As you can see above I tend to run something close to the Zone Diet and that works for my body and the way I train with Low Heart Rate burning more fat than carbs.

Some runners really like the high fat diet for endurance athletes, but I’ve found they have issues sticking to it long term and we now know that for women it can lead to hormonal imbalances.

  • Long standing rules have said runners need 60% of their diet from carbs, but we’re seeing more and more that’s not true.
  • One of the main issues is at that rate, few runners are getting it entirely from whole foods and instead are eating a lot more processed sugary treats.
  • The best diet is one that leaves you feeling good, helps your body to repair quickly and prevents bonking from sugar crashes.


What to eat after a run? What to eat after a marathon? What to eat after a long run?

These are some of the questions in my inbox frequently, so per normal I did some research to give you the best answers for the best marathon recovery foods to the best foods for runners.

Choosing these meals throughout training will get you to race day feeling so much stronger! And maybe without the dreaded marathon weight gain because you’ll be fueled with great nutrition and satisfying protein, not just carbs.

I’ve listed a number of individual foods that will enhance the recovery process. Healthy things to eat after a run, can also taste incredible, as you’ll see in the recipes below.

The goal of a post run meal is the following 6 things:

  • Hormonal Support
  • Immune System Support
  • Muscle Glycogen Replenishment/Protein Synthesis
  • Rehydration
  • Soft Tissue Repair
  • Inflammation Reduction

Fuel on — and After — the Run

Your muscles' stores of glycogen the type of sugar they use for energy — are substantially depleted after about 90 minutes of moderate to high-intensity exercise, notes a September 2016 study in American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism.

You'll need to take in more glycogen during long training runs and your marathon. Sports nutrition guidelines recommend aiming for 30 to 90 grams per hour start on the low end if you're smaller or prone to stomach distress, Griffin says.

Begin practicing mid-run fueling once your training sessions reach that 90-minute mark. That way, you'll have plenty of time to practice and see what works for you and your gut, Griffin says. You can use pre-packaged gels, chews and sports drinks — or even tote your own whole foods, such as bananas or dates.

It's also important to refuel your energy stores after a hard workout or a race. Having a snack or a meal with a three-to-one ratio of carbs to protein within an hour or so after a long run or race jumpstarts your recovery process, replenishing your glycogen and helping repair damage to your muscles, Nader says.

14 Delicious Meals in Less Than 30 Minutes

Recipes from the latest Runner's World cookbook.

Not sure what to eat on race morning? In need of some tasty midrun energy? Want to ensure you properly kick-start recovery? Do it all with the latest Runner's World cookbook&mdasha collection of more than 150 recipes ready in 30 minutes or less.

Before You Run

If you've ever woken up early for a race or long run (and every runner does, eventually), you know how difficult it can be to eat well in the predawn hours. Maybe you simply aren't hungry when you first get up. Or race nerves leave you feeling queasy. If you're staying at a hotel (without your go-to foods readily available), you risk eating something that upsets your stomach. Happily, these quick breakfast ideas will fuel you up for a tough training run or race without weighing you down&mdashand if you pack a few ingredients, you can even make some of these meals in a hotel room, too.

&ldquoBaked&rdquo Granola Apples
The secret behind getting these &ldquobaked&rdquo apples on the table fast? Cooking them in the microwave, which quickly steams the fruit until perfectly tender. Braeburn, Cortland, or Rome varieties work just as well as Gala. Use a spoon or melon baller to core the halved apples. Top the finished dish with a dollop of yogurt for a protein and calcium boost.

2 large crisp apples, such as Gala, halved and cored
2 tablespoons chopped dried tart cherries
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 teaspoons butter
½ cup granola

In a microwavable dish, arrange the apple halves cut side up.

Top each apple half evenly with the tart cherries and brown sugar. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Dot evenly with the butter.

Cover the apples with a microwavable dome lid or microwave-safe plastic wrap. Microwave on high for about 4 minutes, or until the apples are tender.

Transfer the apples to serving bowls and sprinkle each apple half evenly with the granola. Drizzle any juices remaining in the cooking dish over the top. Serves 4.

Nutrition Information
Calories per serving: 181
Carbs: 29 g
Fiber: 5 g
Protein: 2 g
Total fat: 7 g
Saturated fat: 4 g
Sodium: 38 mg

Good Morning Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes for breakfast? Absolutely. These carb-packed vegetables are loaded with runner-friendly nutrients&mdashand provide a welcome break from typical morning fare. &ldquoThe flavors in this recipe will remind you of Thanksgiving,&rdquo says Mark Bittman, Runner's World contributing food writer.

1 medium sweet potato
¼ cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Pinch of salt

Pierce the sweet potato all over with a fork. Microwave on high for 5 to 10 minutes, turning over once or twice, or until the center is soft.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine the walnuts, maple syrup, and salt. Cook over medium-low heat until the nuts are coated and fragrant.

Slice open the top of the potato lengthwise, leaving the bottom intact. Mash the nut mixture on top. Serves 1.

Nutrition Information
Calories per serving: 355
Carbs: 44 g
Fiber: 6 g
Protein: 7 g
Total fat: 19 g
Saturated fat: 2 g
Sodium: 220 mg

Gingered Winter Greens Smoothie
As a cruciferous vegetable, kale contains compounds called glucosinolates that have been shown to have anticancer properties. Adding fresh ginger and a kiwi&mdashwhich provides more than a day&rsquos worth of vitamin C&mdashhelps soften the natural bitterness of the leafy green.

1 cup unsweetened coconut water
½ cup low-fat plain yogurt
1 kiwi fruit, peeled
1 large kale leaf, center rib removed
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon honey
Pinch of salt
½ cup ice cubes

In a blender, combine the coconut water, yogurt, kiwi, kale, ginger, honey, salt, and ice. Blend until smooth. Serves 1.

Nutrition Information
Calories per serving: 188
Carbs: 38 g
Fiber: 3 g
Protein: 8 g
Total fat: 2 g
Saturated fat: 1 g
Sodium: 272 mg

RELATED: Prep great meals (in less time!) with Meals on the Run.


Fuel up the night before your long run or big race with one of these energy-packed meals.

Kara Goucher&rsquos Kitchen Sink Pizza
Two-time Olympian and marathoner Kara Goucher cooks up these easy flatbread pizzas at least once a week. If you&rsquore planning to grill, set aside one grilled chicken breast (about 6 ounces cooked) to use for this recipe. Otherwise, you can use a rotisserie chicken breast. You can also substitute leftover grilled vegetables for the fresh bell pepper, tomatoes, and mushrooms.

4 whole wheat naan flatbreads
½ cup marinara sauce
4 teaspoons pesto
1 cup shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ red onion, sliced
½ cup sliced mushrooms, such as cremini (about 2 ounces)
1 grilled chicken breast, diced
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
8 large fresh basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Arrange the naans on 2 baking sheets. Spread a thin layer of marinara across the breads. Top each with a teaspoon of the pesto and swirl into the sauce. Sprinkle the naans with the mozzarella. Top with the bell pepper, tomatoes, onion, and mushrooms. Add the chicken and finish with a sprinkle of Parmesan.

Bake the naan pizzas for 12 minutes, or until the breads brown, the vegetables are softened, and the cheese melts.

Serve the naan pizzas garnished with the basil. Serves 4.

Nutrition Information
Calories per serving: 506
Carbs: 52 g
Fiber: 7 g
Protein: 30 g
Total fat: 19 g
Saturated fat: 7 g
Sodium: 877 mg

Spaghetti with Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce
This no-cook sauce comes together quickly in the blender while the pasta cooks on the stove.

½ cup almonds
1 box (1 pound) bucatini or spaghetti
1 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 anchovy fillets
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
½ teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or a pinch of dried
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.

While waiting for the water to boil, place the almonds in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Toast for 7 minutes, stirring or shaking the skillet occasionally, until fragrant and slightly golden. Set aside.

When the water boils, salt it and add the bucatini. Cook according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the toasted almonds, sun-dried tomatoes, oil, anchovies, garlic, basil, oregano, and salt and process about 1 minute, until just blended.

Reserving ½ cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta in a colander and return it to the pot.

Add the ½ cup pasta cooking water to the sauce in the food processor. Pulse a few times until combined. Add the sauce to the pasta and toss well to coat. Serve topped with the Parmesan. Serves 6.

Nutrition Information
Calories per serving: 497
Carbs: 64 g
Fiber: 5 g
Protein: 16 g
Total fat: 21 g
Saturated fat: 3 g
Sodium: 606 mg

Pizza Margherita
Pizza doesn&rsquot get simpler or more delicious than this. Fresh mozzarella melts beautifully and, thanks to its high water content, is naturally lower in fat than many hard cheeses. If you don&rsquot want to make tomato sauce and don&rsquot have any on hand, substitute 2 fresh plum tomatoes, sliced crosswise.

1 pound homemade or store-bought pizza dough
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup homemade or jarred tomato sauce
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, patted dry and torn into ¾-inch pieces
6 large basil leaves, roughly torn
¼ cup grated or shaved Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Roll the dough into a 12 x 9-inch rectangle no more than ¼ inch thick. Brush 1 teaspoon of the oil over a 1-inch border all around the rectangle.

Spread the pizza sauce over the dough, leaving the 1-inch border uncovered. Lay the mozzarella pieces on the sauce. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust is golden and crisp and the cheese is bubbling. Top with the basil. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and pepper. Serves 4.

Nutrition Information
Calories per serving: 387
Carbs: 49 g
Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 14 g
Total fat: 17 g
Saturated fat: 5 g
Sodium: 473 mg

Spaghetti Carbonara
This classic Italian pasta is as satisfyingly delicious as it is easy to make. While not traditional, sautéed onions add a note of sweetness, and peas provide a pop of color and nutrients.

6 slices bacon, chopped
1 box (1 pound) spaghetti
½ sweet onion, chopped
3 large eggs
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 cup frozen peas
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.

While waiting for the water to boil, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until the bacon is browned and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel. Set aside.

Meanwhile, when the water boils, salt it and add the spaghetti. Cook according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, return the skillet to the stove over medium heat (if there is more than 1 tablespoon of bacon fat in the skillet, drain it first). Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes, or until the onion is softened and translucent. Set aside.

In a bowl, beat the eggs well with a fork. Season with salt and pepper.

Two minutes before the spaghetti is done, add the peas. Reserving ½ cup of the cooking water, drain the spaghetti and peas in a colander and return to the still-hot pot. Immediately add the eggs, reserved ½ cup cooking water, and the onions. Toss well to coat the spaghetti (the residual heat from the pasta will gently cook the eggs as they coat the spaghetti). Sprinkle with the Parmesan, bacon, and parsley, and toss well again.

Serve with additional ground black pepper, if desired. Serves 6.

Nutrition Information
Calories per serving: 443
Carbs: 61 g
Fiber: 4 g
Protein: 21 g
Total fat: 12 g
Saturated fat: 4.5 g
Sodium: 494 mg

Soba Noodles with Peanut-Sesame Sauce
You can serve the noodles slightly warm or at room temperature. If you make it ahead and chill it, let it come to room temperature to serve. You can also use this no-cook peanut-sesame sauce in a stir-fry.

Quick tip: While buckwheat is a gluten-free whole grain, many brands of soba noodles are made with wheat as well. Gluten-free runners should be sure to read labels closely.

1 package (8 ounces) buckwheat soba noodles
1 cup (3 ounces) snow peas, halved
¼ cup no-sugar-added creamy peanut butter
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 clove garlic
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. When the water boils, add the soba noodles. Cook according to the package directions, adding the snow peas during the last minute of cooking.

While the noodles cook, in a food processor, combine the peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger and process for 30 seconds, or until smooth.

When the noodles are done, drain them along with the peas in a colander and rinse them well under cool water until the water runs clear. Drain well again and return the noodles and peas to the pot. Add the sauce and scallions to the noodles and toss well to coat.

Serve garnished with the sesame seeds. Serves 4.

Nutrition Information
Calories per serving: 391
Carbs: 52 g
Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 14 g
Total fat: 17 g
Saturated fat: 2 g
Sodium: 952 mg

Pasta with Peas and Prosciutto
&ldquoThis is an easy pasta to whip up when short on time,&rdquo says Runner&rsquos World contributing chef Nate Appleman. If you can find fresh, in-season peas, use them here. Otherwise, frozen peas will work just fine add them 1 minute sooner in the recipe.

1 box (1 pound) cavatappi or other spiral pasta
1½ cups fresh spring peas
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon ground black pepper, or more to taste
½ cup grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese
Juice of ½ lemon
4 ounces (about 8 thin slices) prosciutto, torn into bite-size pieces

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When it boils, salt it and add the pasta. Cook according to the package directions. Two minutes before the pasta is cooked, add the peas.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until slightly browned.

Reserving ¼ cup pasta cooking water, drain the pasta and peas in a colander. Add the peas, pasta, and reserved cooking water to the skillet, toss, and heat through, about 1 minute. Add the pepper, cheese, and lemon juice and toss to combine.

Serve the pasta in shallow bowls and place the prosciutto over top, letting the heat from the pasta warm the meat. Serves 6.

Nutrition Information
Calories per serving: 403
Carbs: 63 g
Fiber: 4 g
Protein: 20 g
Total fat: 8 g
Saturated fat: 2.5 g
Sodium: 654 mg


Anytime you run longer than an hour, you should pack some fuel to power you through your workout. Energy gels and chews are a convenient choice, but sometimes you want something more substantial&mdashand satisfying. These energy bars and balls are quick to make, really delicious, and offer a good amount of energizing carbs.

Honey Energy Bars
These sweet, crunchy, and slightly chewy bars are the perfect prerun pick-me-up. Honey provides simple sugars (fructose and glucose) that are quickly absorbed and will energize your workout. Honey also contains oligosaccharides, a type of sugar that may promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestinal tract. Studies show that these carbohydrates serve as fuel for immune-boosting bacteria in the gut.

Eat Plenty of Nutri­tious Food

No per­son is able to fol­low one set caloric intake since it depends on body fat, height, and weight pri­mar­ily, but you can fol­low sim­ple guide­lines on what you should be eat­ing.

You want to eat food and plenty of calo­ries that fit your lifestyle and train­ing pro­gram. The fol­low­ing are the three macronu­tri­ents that you are to focus on when glanc­ing at where your calo­ries are com­ing from:

Your marathon train­ing diet should con­sist largely of these sim­ple nutri­ents and need to be watched care­fully if you wish to at com­plete your next marathon.

An impor­tant part of your marathon nutri­tion plan is Car­bo­hy­drates.

Carbs are used by your metab­o­lism for energy and stored within your mus­cles and liver in the form of glyco­gen. Glyco­gen is how the body stores glu­cose for later use. This glyco­gen slowly gets used up depend­ing on the type of activ­ity you are per­form­ing, and in terms of marathon run­ners, the usual glyco­gen deple­tion time frame is when you are 13.1 miles into a marathon.

This num­ber will come in handy shortly, but in the mean­time know that carbs make up the larger por­tion of your diet.

Beware of low-​​carb diets.

Research has shown that low-​​carb diets actu­ally hin­der a marathon run­ners dis­tance and com­ple­tion time. The body sim­ply needs the glyco­gen lev­els needed before dip­ping into your fats for energy.

Pro­tein is a neces­sity and should never be taken away from your diet. This nutri­ent is the build­ing blocks of life, and is known for assist­ing with the pro­duc­tion of mus­cles, bones, car­ti­lage, and lig­a­ments. Pro­tein is also great for mak­ing your body feel fuller through­out the day since it digests slowly. Pro­tein also assists with mus­cle recov­ery, which is impor­tant for all active peo­ple since you cause micro­scopic mus­cle tis­sue tears while run­ning and lift­ing weights.

Good sources of protein:

  • Lean Beef
  • Turkey Breast
  • Chicken Breast
  • Salmon
  • Beans
  • Eggs

Marathon nutri­tion also focuses on dietary fats. These are the kind of fats that are healthy and keep your organs in top con­di­tion. The other use for them is as a sec­ondary source for your metab­o­lism to pro­duce energy after glyco­gen lev­els have depleted.

Your marathon train­ing diet will rely heav­ily on this nutri­ent dur­ing the sec­ond phase of the com­pe­ti­tion (after the first 13.1 miles), and if you want to make it through the race then start think­ing about con­sum­ing some of the foods below:

  • Olives and Olive Oils
  • Avo­ca­dos
  • Cheese
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Nuts
  • Whole Milk

Get the Right Macronutrient Balance

You need all of the three major macronutrients — carbohydrates, protein and fat — to perform at your best. Too little, or too much, of any one may slow you down.

Carbs: Often, runners are steered toward lots of carbs, as they provide energy for your workouts. However, when training for a 5K, you're most likely not exceeding 20 miles per week in training. This amount of running doesn't require a major boost in your carb intake.

Keep it at about 2.5 grams per pound of your body weight daily. This means if you weigh 140 pounds, you'll aim for about 180 grams daily. Go for whole grains, such as quinoa and brown rice, as well as sweet potatoes and winter squash.

Protein: Protein is an essential component of all your tissues. It's especially valuable in helping you build and repair muscle, which you're doing a lot of while training. The average person training for a 5K does fine with about 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight, so that 140-pound person benefits from 70 grams per day. Lean proteins, such as fish, white-meat poultry and trimmed steak are ideal options.

Fats: Fats get a bad rap, but the unsaturated kind provides support for vitamin absorption and some, such as the Omega 3s, reduce inflammation so you recover from your runs adequately. Between 20 percent and 35 percent can come from fat, says the Institute of Medicine. Avocado, salmon and nuts are good sources of unsaturated fats.

How to "Train" Your Diet for Your Next Race

Nicole Loher is a triathlete, Adidas ambassador, and all-around fitness guru, all while balancing a badass day job in the fashion industry (and several side gigs to boot). Needless to say, she's an inspiration in the art of hustling&mdashand she's totally game to share her knowledge. Follow her column, Part-Time Athlete, for her expert advice on everything from establishing a training regimen to finding early-morning gym motivation.

As I&rsquom sure you&rsquove heard before, our bodies are kind of like cars: We must keep them well-oiled and -maintained to keep them running smoothly. Whether you&rsquove committed yourself to a 5K road race or a bodybuilding competition, I&rsquom sure you&rsquore beginning to question how and what you should be eating to help you perform in tip-top shape. A quick search on Amazon can be a little overwhelming. For the runners, you&rsquoll find best sellers like Run Fast. Eat Slow.: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes by Shalane Flanagan . For bodybuilders, you have books like The Shredded Chef: 120 Recipes for Building Muscle, Getting Lean, and Staying Healthy by Michael Matthews. And there are a million options in between whether you&rsquore a swimmer, a cyclist, or a gluten-free, sugar-free, GMO-free, Paleo-everything Pilates fanatic.

Personally, through seasons of experimenting, I&rsquove found that a high-fat, low-carb, moderate-protein, ketogenic diet helps my engine run best when training for a race. But as expert Ben Lauder Dykes explained in my last column, it&rsquos all about finding what works best for you to fit your goals. Over the last year, I&rsquove watched fitness star, nutrition and life coach, and Rumble Boxing trainer Juliana Estrella rise to the top of her game. As someone who is always training clients, other athletes, or herself, she&rsquos a great resource to lend some insight on how to get to the top of your game from a nutrition standpoint. Ready to rethink your nutrition so you can begin to race to place?

First things first: Establish your goal(s).

&ldquo And give a deeper meaning to your goal,&rdquo Estrella stresses. &ldquoRemind yourself often why you decided to commit to your race or competition. It can later serve as an anchor when you &lsquodon&rsquot feel like doing it anymore.&rsquo&rdquo

Have a look at your current diet.

&ldquo The first thing I would do if I were changing my diet in general is take a look at what your current diet is like,&rdquo says Estrella. &ldquoIf it&rsquos vastly different to what you would like to be adapting to, chances are you want to have some time to make small adjustments. Understand that lifestyle changes take time and so does accomplishing goals. If this is your first time embarking on races or competitions, take a couple of weeks to begin settling into this journey you&rsquore going on.&rdquo

Create a road map to where you want to be.

In my second column, I dove headfirst into how I learned I needed 3000 calories a day to sustain my routine . Do you know your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure)? That&rsquos a great place to start. From there, fill your diet with a balance of nutrient-rich foods, as well as foods you enjoy. That balance is key to staying on track!

Focus on one meal at a time.

Easier said than done, right? Estrella explains, &ldquoYour diet may not be perfect 100% of the time. Don&rsquot be so hard on yourself if you have a meal that veers off track. Acknowledge it and get back on your nutrition game for the next meal. Don&rsquot say f*ck it and then eat whatever is in sight just because you had one meal that wasn&rsquot planned.&rdquo

Finally, we beg of you: Be realistic and be kind to yourself.

We are human and your diet should fit your training. You should not be aiming to have peak week physique or performance all year round. This is a journey! Embrace the journey.

On a closing note, Estrella honed in on something very important: nutrition is essential for living an optimal daily life. When it comes to sports nutrition related to races or competitions, it&rsquos not that it&rsquos more important than your daily nutrition&mdash it&rsquos just comes down to specifics and sticking to a regimen. With so many fad diets out there and processed treats, it&rsquos easy to forget that food at its core is actually fuel for your body. The purpose of having a solid nutrition plan for competitions is so that you can actually perform the task at hand.

Do you alter your diet based on your training regime? I&rsquod love to hear what you do to be your best self on the course. Until then, be well.

You should be up early enough before the race to eat a small breakfast with plenty of time to start digestion before the gun goes off.

If you need 3 hours to eat a small meal before running, then you need to get up at least three hours before the race to get in a light breakfast.

You’ll want to drink mostly water (unless you know temperatures at the race are going to be warm), with some electrolyte fluid.

Don’t try to get all your fluids down by chugging your water bottle.

Drink small, regular sized amounts. Room temperature water is absorbed quicker than warm or cold water. I estimate that you’ll need 6 oz. every hour or 8 oz. every hour on hot days.

Lots of runners will take a GU or energy gel right before the gun goes off.

I only recommend this if you have a weak stomach and you haven’t eaten in 3 hours. If you’re able to stomach more solid foods 60-90 minutes before the race, this is preferable.

Basically, energy gels are mostly simple sugars and you’ll be consuming another 2 or 3 gels before the race is over. Even for the biggest sweet tooth this is a lot of sugar.

My favorite breakfast – oatmeal with banana and coffee. Other options include bagel with peanut butter, toast with honey, or dry cereal.

At this point, you should have a good idea of what works best for you pre hard or long run, so stick with what works.