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Diet for the marathon: Expert tips

Preparing for the Mumbai Marathon? if you are a beginner  then your nutrition throughout the training process is what will decide how you fare on race day. Here are a few tips from their official wellness partner Asian Heart Institute (AHI)  to significantly improve your race day performance. 

Step 1 – Basic Nutrition Needs

Ensure the basic diet needs of the marathon runner are met – this is the foundation of any sports nutrition plan. Eat a variety of food from each of the four major food groups each day.

  • Breads and cereals;
  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Milk, dairy products and milk substitutes, especially low-fat varieties
  •  Lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and
  • Meat substitutes like lentils, chickpeas, soy beans and other beans.

Step 2 – Training

Marathon runners need to plan for increased nutrition requirements during training. The training diet holds the most potential for improving your marathon performance. Here is a list of recommended servings.

  • Vegetables and fruits (recommended serves – 2 fruit & 3 vegetables)
  • Breads and cereal (recommended serves – 6)
  • Milk, dairy products and milk substitutes (recommended serves – 2)
  • Meat and meat substitutes (recommended serves – 1)
  • Fluids (recommended serves – 8 cups)

Step 3 – Competition

Marathon runners need to develop their own diet strategy for competition. This is when you will implement the diet plan that you have practiced in training. Here are some essentials you should keep in mind while planning your diet:

  • Carbohydrate provides the most readily available superior source of fuel or ‘energy’ for muscles to use. Athletes should consume 55-70% of their energy from carbohydrate (5-10 g per kg of body weight per day) depending on their sport.
  • Protein provides the body’s building blocks. Athletes should consume 15% of their energy from protein (0.8-1.7 g per kg of body weight per day), depending on their sport.
  • Fat provides the body’s most concentrated energy source. Athletes should try to keep their fat intake low.
  • Fluids are essential to regulate temperature and prevent dehydration. Athletes should drink fluid before, during and after exercise. There are many fluids athletes can choose. Sports drinks are specifically designed for efficient rehydration. The optimum composition for sports drinks is 4-8% carbohydrate and 500-700 mg/litre of sodium.
  • Iron is an essential element. A well planned diet will provide sufficient iron.
  • Calcium intake is important to ensure peak bone mass and maintenance
    of strong bones.

Good nutrition will help you maximize your training and your competition performance. Your nutrition on competition day is just fine-tuning of your training nutrition.’

Tips from the experts:

Dr Tilak Suvarna, Interventional Cardiologist, Coordinator and Department of Cardiology, Asian Heart Institute says  ‘ On race day as well as on the previous night, make sure that you don’t have anything unusual in your stomach. Your pre-marathon breakfast should be identical to and should have the same amount of ‘lead time’ as your breakfast during your training runs. That way you can concentrate completely on the race itself and not on your belly’

Read more about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease.

Dr. Aashish Contractor, HOD, Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation, Asian Heart Institute, says ‘ If you are running the full marathon make sure you replenish your sugar stores actively during the race as well’

Article courtesy: Asian Heart Institute

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