Fast and fit: 3 nutrition tips for the marathon
When you're preparing for a marathon, nothing is more important than the right training, a good dose of motivation, and a balanced diet. Because even the best training plan can go down the drain if your diet doesn't go with it!
Whether you run in the gym on the treadmill, in the woods or in the city, regular exercise challenges the body. You burn more calories, sweat and lose vital vitamins and minerals because of it. Optimal results in preparation for the marathon can therefore only be achieved with a change in diet that matches the training plan.
It's not just about the snacks and drinks you eat during the big running event, but also about your diet before the marathon. The healthier and stronger your meals are, i.e. the more foods come straight from the earth and have not been processed multiple times, the stronger your muscles, bones and tissues will be in training.
In addition, supplements such as micronutrients, superfoods or vitamin tablets help your body make up for the high mineral loss caused by sweating while running.
In our article "Fast and fit: 3 nutrition tips for the marathon" we show you which nutrition will get you in top shape for the marathon!
1) The basics: Macronutrients for runners
Macronutrients are needed by the body because they provide energy and help the body carry out vital processes such as digestion, heart function, cell renewal, respiration and much more. These include carbohydrates, proteins and fats, which are found in all conventional foods.
a) Carbohydrates: are fast energy suppliers and are divided into long-chain carbohydrates and short-chain carbohydrates. Long-chain carbohydrates provide energy over a long period of time because the carbohydrates first have to be broken down by the body. They keep blood sugar levels constant and are found especially in whole grain products.
- Wholemeal bread
- Wholemeal rice
- Wholemeal pasta
- Cereal flakes
Short-chain carbohydrates provide quick energy and raise the blood sugar level for a short time, which leads to a perceived energy kick. However, they leave the body feeling "empty" afterwards, which often leads to fatigue, listlessness and a drop in concentration. Short-chain carbohydrates are found especially in white flour and sweets.
- White bread
- Sweet drinks
b) Proteins: are our protein suppliers from animal or plant sources. Vegan products such as soy, seitan, tofu, tempé or seaweed salad are also rich sources of protein. The body needs protein especially to build muscle, support digestion and immune defence, and to absorb enzymes and amino acids.
- Milk, cheese, yoghurt
c) Fat: is just as important as carbohydrates and protein! Fats are needed by the body for metabolism and cell protection. They are divided into unsaturated and saturated fatty acids. Unsaturated fatty acids contain vital minerals for the body, which support the metabolism and do not build up fat so quickly.
- Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (freshwater fish such as eel)
- Olive oil
- Linseed oil
Saturated fatty acids are found in dairy products, meat and coconut fat. They accumulate more quickly and contain less nutritional value for the body. These are the so-called "empty" fats.
- Meat products
- Dairy products
- Sunflower oil
- Baked goods
- Coconut fat
The basic rule is 50-25-25, i.e. 50% of energy comes from carbohydrates, 25% from proteins and 25% from fats. Meat, white flour, sugar, alcohol and saturated fatty acids make the body sluggish and are "empty" in terms of nutritional value, i.e. they build fat quickly and cannot be broken down into vital minerals and nutrients.
Fresh fruit, vegetables, pulses, fish, wholemeal products and dairy products provide long-lasting energy that strengthens muscles, bones, nerves and the brain and ensures long-term success.
2) The turbo: micronutrients for runners
In order to achieve optimal marathon preparation with your diet, the addition of micronutrients is important. Micronutrients play an important role in metabolism, cell renewal, blood formation, cell growth, hormone formation and healthy nerve function. Micronutrients include minerals, trace elements, vitamins and amino acids. They do not directly provide energy, but support you in getting your body into top shape.
With increased training, stress and environmental load, the body draws on nutrient depots in muscles, bones and connective tissue that cannot be replenished immediately with normal nutrition. Therefore, it is essential to constantly replenish the depots with your diet before the marathon! You can do this with vitamin tablets, superfoods and dietary supplements.
- Superfoods: Spirulina, Maca, Cacao
- Vitamin tablets: A, B12, B6, C, D, E
- Multivitamin tablets
- Electrolyte drinks
- Coconut water
3) The icing on the cake: Vitamin drinks
To fuel your cells with fresh life force, a rainbow mix of smoothies and fruit juices spread throughout the week is the icing on the cake for your next virtual marathon.
Vitamins and nutrients that come from raw, uncooked fruits and vegetables have the highest nutritional value for the cells, simply because they have not been further processed and thus have not lost any substances in the production process. Green juices help to purify the body and remove toxins that are flushed out of the cells during sweating, red juices strengthen the blood, orange juices ensure good digestion and more fun while running, and yellow juices clear the head.
- Vitamin C boost: orange, lemon, pineapple
- Detox: spinach, apple, kiwi, celery
- Power: beetroot, lemon, orange
- Speed: banana, raw cacao, almond milk
- Concentration: pineapple, lemon and ginger
x) Bonus: Nutrition on the day of the marathon
Although some athletes believe that an extra serving of carbohydrates on the day of the marathon is important to get to the finish line, carbo-loading is not recommended if you have already followed the above steps during training. The body needs approximately 7 - 10 g of carbohydrate / kg of weight per day. Excessive carbohydrate intake on the day of the run can lead to fatigue instead of energy.
a) Marathon breakfast
To avoid overloading the stomach while running, breakfast should be three to four hours before the marathon. Easily digestible carbohydrates are advantageous here. Hard-to-digest carbohydrates or dietary fibres should be avoided on the day of the marathon.
- Oatmeal with milk or water
- Cereal flakes with milk
- Toast with peanut butter and honey
b) Pre-marathon snack
To avoid running on a completely empty stomach, be sure to have a pre-marathon snack to replenish your energy reserves. One hour to half an hour before the run this could be, for example:
- Power bar / protein bar
c) Staying fit during the marathon
As you lose a lot of fluid and energy during the run, fluid intake and small snacks to replenish glycogen stores during the marathon are important. For runs over an hour, it is recommended to take in 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour. This corresponds to:
- one banana
- One isotonic drink
- One energy bar
Make sure you drink at least half a litre to a litre of fluid during the run, preferably not just water, but electrolyte-rich drinks such as iso drinks, coconut water or sports drinks.
d) Energy intake after the marathon
So that your body doesn't go completely to pieces after the big event, it is important to add new energy. This is where the short-chain carbohydrates come in when all reserves have been used up. These include:
- Iso drinks
- White bread
- Power bars
To supply your muscles with protein, protein sources such as fish, pulses or eggs are important. You don't need fat at this stage.
To get your digestion going again, start with liquid food, then move on to porridge, and finally add solid food, e.g. snack 1 directly after the run: iso drink, snack 2 a little later: fruit porridge or lentil soup, and dish 3 in the evening: potatoes, fish and vegetables.
Conclusion: You are what you eat!
As you can see, the nutrition for the marathon has a decisive effect on performance. Before the marathon is after the marathon, because you want to run fit and finish fit.
We hope that our article "Fast and Fit: 3 Nutrition Tips for the Marathon" has shown you how you can better prepare for the marathon with the right nutrition!
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