What to Eat While Training for a Marathon

Training for a marathon is a great way to motivate your health goals and cross an item off your bucket list. However, for those new to endurance training, it can also be a shock. When you’re putting in intense workout hours, food deprivation and crash diets can be extremely harmful. Your body is burning massive amounts of energy every day, and if it’s not fueled correctly, you’ll find that you’re unable to build muscle. Instead, you’ll quickly exhaust yourself, never recover from muscle soreness, and constantly crave sugar just because it’s the fastest form of much-needed energy.

Instead, be mindful of nutrition while training for a marathon or other big endurance event. Here are some tips:

Embrace Carbs

While running, your body is primarily fueled by carbs, which replenish glycogen stores in the body. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should be eating pizza every day. Complex carbohydrates like those found in whole grain bread, oatmeal, brown rice, and yams have a “slow burn” effect, which keeps you from the peaks and crashes of the simple sugar cycle. That means these foods will keep you going longer and restore your energy better.

Nutritionists estimate that complex carbohydrates should account for as much as 60-70% of your calories while training for a marathon.

Protein Helps Build Muscle

Protein is an essential nutrient when it comes to building and repairing muscles that are stretched to their limit during your long runs. Protein should account for about 15% of your calories each day. In order to moderate sugar and unhealthy fats, opt for lean proteins like salmon and turkey.

Healthy Fats Improve Endurance

Studies have shown that runners who are eating healthy fats can sustain energy and activity for longer than those who aren’t. However, it’s also important to recognize what constitutes a healthy fat, and limit intake so that fats account for 30% or less of your daily calories. Healthy fats can be found in avocados, cheese, and nuts.

Timing Your Meals

One of the trickiest things about eating while endurance training is timing your meals so that you get the energy and recovery you need, without weighing you down during your run. Cardiovascular exercise can affect our appetites, and running soon after eating a substantial meal may even make you feel sick. Specialists recommend that runners fuel up with a carb-based mini-meal or snack 1-2 hours before their run. Afterwards, have a full meal ready to jump-start your body’s recovery. Eating within 30 minutes after a run that’s 1 hour or longer will help your body and muscles recover faster.

Lean Lifestyle Gets the Recovery Meal Ready for You

Here’s the thing: No one wants to spend those 30 minutes after a run rushing about the kitchen trying to prepare a healthy and nutritious meal. That’s why there’s Lean Lifestyle. Lean Lifestyle customizes your meal plan according to your fitness goals and activities, so that if you’re training for a marathon you can get the nutrients your body deserves, without having to spend as much time cooking as running. Learn more about our customized meal plans here, or sign up today.