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  • Writer's pictureAlice P.

Eat to Run: A Nutrition Plan for Optimal Performance

Updated: Jan 27

by Alice P. Jan-26-2023

Eat to Run

Nutrition is an essential component of training for a marathon. Runners need to fuel their bodies properly to ensure they have enough energy to complete the race and to avoid injury. The following are some general guidelines for marathon runners to follow regarding nutrition.

Runners need to know what to eat to get the most out of their runs. Typically, runners' diets include a balanced ratio of protein and carbohydrates.

However, runners should also include a variety of healthy fats in their diet. These fats will give you essential fatty acids for your immune system, muscle recovery, and fatigue prevention.


Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for marathon runners. They should make up most of a runner's diet, especially in the weeks leading up to the race.

Good sources of carbohydrates include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

Carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy during exercise.

They break down into glucose, which is a vital source of energy for humans. The number of carbohydrates you consume during a run will depend on how long you run and the intensity of your activity.


Protein is important for repairing and rebuilding muscle tissue. Marathon runners should aim to consume about 0.5-0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. Good protein sources include lean meats, fish, eggs, and dairy products.


Fats are an important source of energy and help with the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals. Marathon runners should aim to consume about 20-30% of their daily calories from healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil.


Staying hydrated is crucial for marathon runners. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that runners drink at least 17 ounces of fluid two to three hours before the race and then 7 to 10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during the race.

Pre-race meal:

The meal runners eat before the race is important, as it will give them the energy they need to get through it. A good pre-race meal should include a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats.

Some examples of pre-race meals include oatmeal with fruit and nuts, whole-grain toast with peanut butter and banana, and a turkey and cheese sandwich on whole-grain bread.

Race-day Nutrition:

Marathon runners should also be mindful of their nutrition during the race. Running gels, sports drinks, and energy bars are good options for runners to consume during the race to keep their energy levels up.

It's important to note that each runner has different nutritional needs, and it's always a good idea to consult with a sports dietitian to create a personalized plan. Additionally, it's also important to practice your nutrition plan during training runs so you can know how your body will react to certain foods and drinks during the race.

Fats are a good energy source, but they help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins. They can be used as fuel when carbohydrates are depleted. Runners should avoid high-fat foods such as butter or ice cream as an immediate source of fuel. They are found in avocados, olive oil, and seeds can be good.

Runners should aim to eat a full meal two to three hours before running. They may also want to have a small carbohydrate-rich snack before the run.

You should consume about 50 grams of carbohydrates for a one-hour training session. You should increase the number of carbohydrates you consume for longer training sessions energy source.

Runners should eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and protein. They should also consume at least 20-30 grams of protein to promote muscle protein synthesis.

In Conclusion:

Proper nutrition is crucial for marathon runners to perform at their best and avoid injury. Runners should focus on consuming enough carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats and be mindful of hydration.

They should also pay attention to their nutrition in the weeks leading up to the race and during the race itself. With the right nutrition, marathon runners can cross the finish line with energy to spare.

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