Proper and balanced nutrition during training for a marathon is the key to a successful and injury-free performance, as well as to maintain good health post-marathon!
Here are some guidelines, however, nutrition plan during this time, must be designed by a nutrition expert, since the focus is not on weight-loss or weight-gain but on boosting the body’s ability to use the food consumed to provide energy continuously and for extended periods of time!
Salads, complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits and vegetables must form the base, followed by adequate intake of proteins and fats. Carbohydrates can form almost 65-70% of the total food intake, until the Carbo-loading phase a few weeks before the final day.
Proteins from animal sources (except red meat) are the best for consumption. However for vegetarians, soy protein can be helpful. Protein supplements like whey or soy can also be used to ensure adequate intake of proteins. For primarily non-vegetarian eaters, including vegetables is equally important!
Fried foods and junk foods like burgers, fries, cakes and pastries and too much oil for cooking must be avoided. Fats from good sources like nuts, olive oil can be included to fulfil the fat requirements.
2-3 litres of water on a daily basis, is essential to avoid dehydration and also to ensure smooth functioning of body systems during the rigorous training periods.
Alcohol and coffee intake must be avoided or limited to avoid dehydration and other negative effects on performance due to excessive water loss caused by sweating.
Most nutritionists advice supplements of vitamins and minerals, during this time especially for vegetarian people, since meat and poultry provide some essential nutrients that vegetables cannot.
Concentrating on fulfilling the calorie requirements mostly during the day and reducing the calorie intake towards the evening, is also recommended to keep a check on weight gain.
Also, it is important to get adequate sleep (atleast 7-8 hours) inorder for the body to work efficiently and optimally.