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Top 10 Foods For Marathon Runners
If you focus on eating the most suitable foods to support your training, you’ll not only feel better, you’ll perform better too – which is a great incentive to eat well! So here are my Top 10 foods for marathon runners. Obviously I could include a lot more foods here, but I thought 10 foods was a good place to start!

The number one breakfast food, porridge basically consists of unprocessed oats – and nothing else! If made with skimmed or low fat milk, it will provide the optimum mix of protein, fibre and slow-release energy. Whether you’re eating it pre-race, pre-training run or – even better still – as a regular start to the day, you can’t beat the original breakfast food to get you going each morning.
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Pre-race pasta loading is popular for a reason – because if you’re competing in a race such as a marathon, pasta can make the difference between hitting the wall or sailing straight through it! Pasta is an easily digestible, extremely varied dish that provides slow release-energy – which is exactly what a marathon runner needs. Combined with low-fat protein such as lean mince or tuna, it makes an excellent runner’s refuelling package.
The original snack food, readily available and requiring no preparation, the banana is the healthy equivalent of fast food. It is ideal for quick refuelling and comes in its own biodegradable wrapper! For slower-release energy, choose greener fruit, whereas if you’re after more of a quick energy ‘hit’ then get browner, riper fruit, as the different colour indicates that the banana has more fruit sugar – which makes it better for a post-run snack.
Similar to pasta, rice is also an excellent ‘long-distance’ food, and is both easy to prepare and readily available. Opt for boiling or steaming rice rather than frying it, otherwise you’ll be adding a load of unnecessary calories. Wholegrain or brown rice will provide more fibre – further helping the slow-release energy process.
Lean meat and fish
By avoiding the fatty cuts of meat and concentrating on skinless, low-fat varieties, or alternatively fish, you’ll be providing your body with the necessary building blocks for repair. Try to include protein with each meal, and focus on animal types over vegetable proteins because animal proteins are complete, containing the full complement of amino acids needed by the human body, whereas vegetable proteins are incomplete, and are missing some amino acids. Vegetable proteins therefore have to be eaten in combination with other foods for the body to be able to use the protein effectively.
Fruit and vegetables
Everyone should be focusing on a minimum of the ‘five-a-day’ fruit and veg strategy – but runners should try to get even more, because their energy and overall nutrition requirements, including antioxidants, are greater.
Dried fruit and nuts An excellent choice for snacks, either before, during or after a run. The dried fruit provides an energy boost as well as some vitamins and minerals, and the nuts provide protein, “good” fats, energy and the antioxidant minerals selenium and zinc.
Cereal bars
For an easy-to-pack, generally healthy snack, a cereal bar is extremely handy. Cereal bars have a long shelf life, and compared with many other foods (such as bananas) don’t object to being bashed around in your gym bag – so they’re excellent standbys. However, not all cereal bars are equal – some have as much fat and sugar in them as chocolate bars! So read your labels with care and choose varieties that have as few ingredients as possible – which means that they’re less likely to be laden with additives and unnecessary chemicals.
Probiotic yogurt
Great for snacking on to give a quick energy boost before or after a run, and also a good source of calcium to ensure strong, healthy bones. The probiotic content will help to keep your digestive system in good running order – if you’ll pardon the pun!
An egg a day is ok! If you have normal cholesterol levels, you can have up to seven eggs a week, and if you have high cholesterol, you can still have four to six eggs a week. Eggs are perfect for when you’re in training – morning, noon or night. They are a great source of protein and are easily digested. Eggs contain substantial amounts of vitamins A, B, D and E, as well as the minerals iron, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.
Next week I'll be looking at preparation the week before the marathon.
Why not email Kellie with your questions on exercise - just click on her email adddress below:
Keep in mind that research on these matters is on-going and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.
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