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The Pre-Marathon Diet

The Pre-Marathon Diet

The Pre-Marathon diet:
Since the yearly marathon is coming soon and you have been training so hard for it, you have to know how to fuel your body properly. Benefit from the days before your marathon to refine your diet and do your best during the performance day.

Weeks before:
In the 12 to 24 weeks of training prior to your race, have a diet which contains around 65-75% of good quality carbohydrates (found in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low fat dairy). This will give you a constant energy. Stay away from refined carbohydrates (found in soda, white bread and sweets) because they give you quick rises in blood sugar and may increase your weight. Only gels and sports drinks are allowed during long training runs.

Tapering:
During most of the tapering phase of training, when you are cutting back on the distance, you should have a diet of 70% of carbohydrates. Keep in mind your calories during this phase because you are exercising less so you are burning less.

Carbohydrate depletion:
This theory consists of depriving your muscles from carbohydrates for few weeks before your race and then store up during the immediate days preceding the event. This will probably maximize your glycogen stores. For example, if your race is on Sunday, so the Monday prior you have to consume 60% of calories from carbs, the Tuesday prior 50% , the Wednesday prior 40% and the Thursday prior 70% from carbs. Traditional carb loading also consists of high intensity exercises during the low carb days to totally deplete the glycogen stores.
A training protocol based on a week’s worth of carb depletion and loading into 1 day has also been seen to ameliorate athletic performance.
Finally, in whatever method of dieting you choose, don’t forget that trying new foods and dieting methods directly before the race may cause you fatigue and digestive distress.

The day before:
Regardless if you followed the carbohydrate depletion method or not, most professionals encourage having a high carbohydrate diet the day preceding the race. As an example, pancakes and pasta meals at dinner can help boost your glycogen stores and ameliorate your performance the next day.

Race day:
Fueling your body the morning of your marathon is very important. Have an easily digested meal with adequate amounts of calories and energy. High protein and high fat breakfasts are bad examples that can bother you during the race. Good examples are whole wheat bagel with some peanut butter that offers you carbs with adequate fat to retard the release of sugars in your blood. Having an immediately digested food such as a sports bar may rapidly fuel you at the beginning but will leave you weak at the end of the race.
Have fun and good luck in your marathon!

Christelle Bedrossian
Dietitian-Nutritionist
Beirut, Lebanon

 

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Christelle Bedrossian