Marathon Nutrition Tips for Peak Performance

When marathon season begins it’s time to put all that hard training to good use. Months are spent strength and endurance training in order to push harder and run longer during the season’s lineup of grueling races.

Besides physical training, you are fine-tuning your diet so that your body is continually running as efficient as possible. You should have healthy percentages of key nutrients already worked into your marathon diet.

Throughout a marathon training program, runners diet should consist of about 43-46% carbohydrates, 21-24% protein and 30-33% fat.

Diet is not only an important factor in marathon training, but it’s also critical for reaching peak performance during marathon races. A specifically tailored nutritious diet that is geared towards pre-marathon as well as post-marathon racing can deliver substantial results in your ability to perform better.

Pre-Marathon Diet

Since running a marathon demands long-term energy reserves, you should eat foods that provide complex carbs to get the fuel needed for a long-haul. Complex carbohydrates are better selections for endurance competitions because they break down more slowly than simple carbs do.

Protein is another nutrient which should be consumed prior to a marathon race. Protein adds to your performance by increasing energy and recovering time once the marathon is completed.

Carbohydrates and protein both work to assist the body with insulin production. Insulin aids in preventing muscle breakdown by combating the effects of cortisol. Therefore, you should partake of a diet rich in complex carbs and proteins an hour or two before the race commences.

Chow down on one of the following suggestions:
    • Oatmeal, skim milk and fruit
    • Granola, low-fat milk and fruit
    • Banana, 1 T of peanut butter
    • Pancakes and syrup
    • Low-fat yogurt and fruit
    • Power smoothie made of low-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, wheat germ and 2 scoops of whey protein supplement

One of the negative side effects of endurance training is the production of cortisol as a result of intense workouts that last more than an hour. This hormone is released to combat body stress and to draw the extra energy needed to complete long segments of activity by breaking down muscle fiber and converting it into fuel.

Post-Marathon Diet

You body is extremely insulin sensitive after a race, and requires foods that will stimulate insulin production to help with muscle repair. Protein is a required element, but carbohydrates are also key elements in this period of rest and recovery.

By consuming only protein and no carbs, your muscles can become resistant to insulin which is detrimental to the recovery process. You should, therefore, include foods rich in complex carbs as well as protein within 45 minutes following a marathon.

Try some of these easy to make snacks:
    • Crackers and cheese
    • Pretzels dipped in peanut butter
    • Turkey roll sandwich
    • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich

A great post-marathon meal is a smoothie made with milk, fruit and whey protein powder. A liquid meal provides more rapid recovery because it is more readily absorbed into the muscle fibers.

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