Participating in a marathon requires that you build up your energy levels through proper training and eating the right foods. So, let us explore the best foods to eat before a marathon.
A marathon is an endurance sport, and you need to prepare your body accordingly. This means that apart from the physical training, you also need to be very careful about your nutrition. If you do not take due care in how and what you eat, you will not be able to stock up the necessary energy reserves that you will require during the marathon. Not only will you not be able to compete, but also you will be putting your overall health at risk.
We will explore the best foods to eat before the marathon, when, and why you need to eat these particular foods.
Pre-marathon eating schedule
Before getting into the foods that you should eat before running a marathon, let’s discuss the schedule for eating them. Especially if you are new to a marathon, you might have some doubts about how you should schedule your food. Here is the answer.
5 days to the Day – Load up on the Carbohydrates
If you are a fan of carbohydrates but find that you have to moderate your intake, especially if you’re trying to watch the waistline, then you will have a great time during this marathon preparation time.
Carbo-loading is one of the best ways to build up your fuel reserves when preparing for a marathon. So bring out the pasta, potatoes, bread, high carbohydrate fruits, quinoa, and oatmeal, among others and load up. Eating carbohydrates will result in more glycogen in your body, thus giving you the fuel you need while running. What happens when you do not have enough glycogen in your body during a marathon? The answer is really simple; you will not be able to run, because you will feel extreme fatigue and sluggishness.
Inasmuch as you need to eat a lot of carbohydrates, do not go overboard. The experts recommend that you eat at least 3 to 5.5 grams for every pound of your weight. Have a serving of carbohydrates in all your meals, and maximize the carbohydrate intake during lunchtime.
48 hours to go – Eat heavy meals
This is the last day you’ll get to eat a heavy meal, because, you need to give your body enough time to digest the food. You do not want to wake up feeling bloated on the day of the race, or even have a running stomach because the food did not go through your system as it should.
One day to go – Hydrate yourself
Follow your normal eating routine, but make sure that you include a lot of liquids so that your body is well hydrated on the day of the race. Make sure you have some carbohydrates in your meals, including rice, bananas, bagels, pasta, and potatoes among others.
As the marathon hour approaches, eat small meals more frequently, like every 2 or 3 hours. You, however, need to exclude foods like meat, fatty foods, roughage, salt and products that have dairy in them.
Carry around things like energy bars and sandwiches so you have something to snack on if you feel hungry. Continue to eat carbohydrates like cereals, bread among others, so that you continue to build up your energy reserves.
The day of the race
Wake up very early and eat a light meal. However, allow yourself 3 hours at a minimum, so that your food starts to digest. Continue to hydrate your body by drinking lots of water.
Best Foods to Eat Before the Marathon
So, without further due, let’s dive into the list of the best foods that you can intake while preparing for a marathon.
Pasta is a high carbohydrate meal and will give you enough energy during the marathon. Make sure it is whole grain to keep you full, as well as build your muscles. It will give you greater endurance during the race. The best thing about pasta is that it is not a heavy meal, so you will be able to digest it pretty quickly.
Bananas are rich in potassium and will give you an energy boost anytime you need it. The potassium will replace any energy you lose due to sweating while maintaining your blood pressure levels.
Potatoes are rich in potassium, Vitamin A, and are low in calories. Not only will they give you an energy boost, but your immune system will improve and you will also have stronger bones in the long run.
Oats are rich in carbohydrates. Due to the low glycemic amount, your blood sugar will rise slowly, and you will feel full and have a lot of energy for a longer period of time.
If you do not want to have muscle soreness after the run, then load up on broccoli. It has vitamin C and K, folic acid, and calcium for stronger bones.
Natural Yogurt combines proteins, carbohydrates, and calcium, which will help you in the recovery period. Natural yogurt also has probiotics that help boost the immune system.
Pure peanut butter
Pure peanut butter is rich in vitamin E and has unsaturated fatty acids. You, therefore, do not have to worry about the negative aspects of eating saturated fatty acids, like high cholesterol. Unsaturated fats are also good for strengthening the immune system, as well as bringing your body back to prime condition after the run. The proteins in the peanut butter are important for the growth of your muscles.
If you’re thinking of a ‘cheat’ day, then get some dark chocolate and cheat away. The cocoa in the chocolate will keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels low, and the flavanols will fight inflammation.
Caffeine will make you run faster because it will give you an energy boost with the help of its nutrients. Be careful though, it will make you go to the toilet a lot. So, you may not want to take a risk by intaking a lot of coffee.
To be able to run a marathon, you need to have a very high level of discipline and commitment. You have got to commit to your training and to your diet as well. Make sure that your nutrition, gives you everything you require to build up your energy, strengthen your bones, keep your blood pressure at a good level and boost your immune system.
You do not even need an expert (but it is always good to consult a certified nutritionist when in doubt) to tell you how to prepare your meals, just pick some of the foods above, and come up with a creative way to enjoy your meals, while building up your energy. You may also give a look at the best foods to eat before cardio which might help you just like the above list.