Diet tips for marathon runners!

In weight-bearing exercise like running, your stomach is joggled around and you may experience more gastrointestinal symptoms.

Sandhya Gugnani

You should aim to have a meal with more than 200g of carbohydrate about three hours before your event.

Also Read: Detox your body with healthy low calorie diet!

As most marathons start early in the morning you have to decide if you are going to get up early and eat, or if you will have a smaller carbohydrate meal 1-2 hours before, and concentrate on getting more carbohydrates during the actual marathon.

In weight-bearing exercise like running, your stomach is joggled around and you may experience more gastrointestinal symptoms (stomach and gut upsets).

Also Read: So which is better Chia or Flax?

A strategy to reduce stomach and gut upsets (gastrointestinal upsets)

  • Reduce your fibre intake by choosing lower-fibre cereals like cornflakes, rice bubbles, white rice, pasta, bread and soft fruits with no skin.
  • Reduce fat in the pre-competition meal. For example, have toast and jam with no butter, use low-fat milk and do not choose to have a fried meal for breakfast.
  • Ensure that hydration is adequate.
  • Make sure you have tested out your pre-competition meal in training.

Also Read: Five swaps for fat belly

Pre-competition meal ideas

  • White toast and low-fat spreads/corn/banana.
  • Cereal with trim milk and/or yoghurt and/or fresh fruit.
  • Muffins or crumpets with jam/honey.
  • Low-fat pancakes with fruit.
  • Creamed rice and fruit.
  • Oatmeal with trim milk.
  • Pasta with a tomato-based sauce.
  • Risotto.
  • Baked potato with corn/spaghetti/tomato-based sauce.
  • Sandwiches/rolls with spreads/banana.
  • Fruit salad and yoghurt.

Pre-competition fluids

  • Make sure you are well hydrated in the days leading up to the event.
  • On event day, maintain hydration
  • Use water, a sports drink, diluted fruit juice or flat, diluted soft drink.

During-competition nutrition

The goals of your diet during your marathon are to prevent dehydration, prevent depletion of glycogen/energy stores, maintain blood glucose, maintain electrolyte balance, and prevent stomach upsets.

Strategies to meet your competition nutrition goals

  • Use carbohydrate-containing sports drinks or moderate to high glycemic index foods. For example, a liter of 7% sports drink will provide 70 g carbohydrate, a banana will provide 20 g carbohydrate, and a cereal bar will provide 20 g carbohydrate.
  • When using a sports drink choose one you have tested in training. Nariyal pani, nimpu pani, diluted fruit & veg juices like cucumber, celery, mint, carrot, orange etc.
  • In an endurance event like a marathon you may want to consume solid foods. Examples of moderate to high glycemic index foods that can be used include ripe bananas, sandwiches with jam, honey or banana, jelly beans, cereal bars.
  • Sports bars can also provide a convenient form of carbohydrate. Experiment with these in training. You may want to take the wrapper off and cut the bar into bite-sized pieces to make them easier to eat.
  • Find out what foods will be available at the aid stations at your marathon and familiarize yourself with these in training, or take your own food and fluids with you.

Some healthy recipes (one can use while preparing for Marathon) thar are high in carbs, protein & giving enough fibre too.

Baked potato & paneer: Mash boiled potatoes, add salt, pepper, oregano. Grated low fat paneer, add seasonings. In a baking dish put a layer of potato alternate with paneer, & potato again. Sprinkle some bread crumbs & layer with sliced tomatoes. Bake it for 10 mins.

Whole wheat pasta with tomato, basil: Boil whole wheat pasta, make sauce with tomato puree, pepper & other seasoning, add basil leaves & little milk. Add vegs & pasta

Baked Aloo cutlets: Make cutlets out of boiled potatoes add mint, coriander, salt, pepper and beans, carrot & peas. Bind it with bread. Coat with bread crumbs. In a baking tray brush some oil & bake the cutlets for about 20 mins. Turn over in 10 mins.

Steamed fish: Marinate fish fillets by applying lemon & leave it for ½ hour. Wash it add pepper, salt & dash of lemon again. Leave it for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

Place the marinated fillets in baking dish & garnish with some coriander/ celery & oreganeo / thyme add 2 tbsp skim milk. microwave it for 10 – 12 mins.

Mixed cabbage coleslaw: 100gms of Chinese (red actually violet color) and green cabbage, finely shredded. With 2 carrot peeled & grated, 1 onion finely chopped, 2 red/ green apple cored & chopped. Mix all together & add 4 tbsp of orange juice, celery.

For Dressing- 4 tbsp low fat yogurt, 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley & freshly grounded pepper. Pour it over the cabbage mixture.

Soya kababs: Soak soya granules & drain it add 1tsp oil with zeera add grated ginger, garlic, hara dhania , salt to taste, amchoor & mix it with soya granules add 1-2 tbsp soya atta to bind it, make into kababs & bake it for about 20- 30 mins

Boiled chicken & boiled egg white ceaser salad: Mix curd with little salt, pepper & mustard. Add steamed ice berg, carrot, cucumber & boiled egg white & chicken with a vinegar dressing. (Can opt for eve snacks)

Sauteed spinach with white sauce: Boil the spinach, drain excess water, in a wok add 1 tsp olive oil / veg oil, add chopped onion ( 1no) , add chopped spinach, add salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, till water evaporates, transfer in a baking dish, pour white sauce made with low fat milk with olive oil & atta. Bake it in oven at 180 degree for 10.

(Sandhya Gugnani is an expert Nutritionist. Visit her at:

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