Eating, and eating well, is an important part of marathon training. The right foods provide adequate fuel for your runs and help you recover after hard efforts. Restrictive diets and calorie cuts won’t work with your training because your body not only needs more food and more variety of food as your training load increases, but restriction often leads to unhealthy, counterproductive habits like binging.
If you’re preparing for a long run, you need more fuel to power your muscles through the entire workout. Going faster for a shorter distance? Some simple carbs can get you through. But always rely on real, whole foods for most of your calories. Whole grains, healthy fats, lean meats and an array of nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables will prime your body for peak performance.
And don’t forget about your post-run eating plan, either. The food you eat after your run is just as important because your body breaks down and loses nutrients during exercise. So, you need to replace the spent fuel to help your muscles rebuild and prepare for their next run.
Taking in protein and carbohydrates, like what you would get from a bowl of savory oatmeal, soon after your run will help your body build new muscle fiber and replenish spent glucose stores. Eat nuts, granola bars, greek yogurt with fresh fruit or nut butters to kick start your recovery—even chocolate milk has the right amounts of protein and carbs to aid your weary body.