A healthy diet does wonders for any home fitness routine, particularly marathon training. Food is fuel, but this is easy to forget when you’re famished. If you don’t eat well, preparing for a marathon will leave you feeling constantly hungry and completely out of steam when it’s time for long runs.
A nutritious diet takes some planning. These healthy eating tips will boost your immune system and keep your body fit to rise to the 26.2 mile challenge.
Protect Your Bones
Females in particular need to maintain high levels of calcium in their diets. The strain of logging miles combined with an overall decrease in body fat can lead to injuries associated with low bone density. Taking health supplements is a simple way to round out your diet while training. Consult with a doctor about a two-in-one calcium vitamin with magnesium to help the body absorb what it needs to.
Calcium rich foods include soybeans, leafy greens like kale and spinach, dairy products and fortified cereals. You gain the most enzymes from vegetables when they’re raw, but if raw food turns you off blend a green drink with kale, cucumbers, celery, lemon, agave and green tea or water.
Never skip breakfast
Running on an empty stomach is never a good idea. Your body needs an ample supply of carbohydrates, and whatever you ate for dinner will not be enough to fuel a morning run. Oatmeal, bagels, energy bars and bananas with a smear of peanut butter offer carbohydrates that are easy for your body to break down and use right away.
Lunch like a marathoner
Morning runners need a good lunch to replenish what they burn. A bagel with low-fat cream cheese and a few slices of tomato and lettuce, soy crisps and a sports drink with electrolytes or orange juice is a perfect recovery meal. If you’re a night runner, opt for sustenance that won’t weigh you down, like sub sandwiches or wraps with vegetables and a fruit smoothie.
Tame constant cravings
Snacking throughout the day, a.k.a. grazing, is a good way to keep blood sugar from crashing and satisfy sudden cravings. Munch on salted pretzels pre-run because salt retains fluids so you stay hydrated longer. Afterwards, go for roasted nuts or popcorn, which has antioxidants to protect the body from tissue damage. In moderation, about 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate a day helps reduce anxiety if you’re feeling stressed out as race day draws near.
Contrary to the old belief that caffeine burns precious fat that marathoners need, recent studies show that caffeine actually increases endorphins, making your longest runs feel less painful. Just be careful not to overdo it.
Dine for the finish line
Preparing for a marathon is grueling work. In order to keep pushing your body, you need to eat dinners that are packed with nutrition. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of options. A few meals to try include:
- Broth-rich seasonal soups loaded with herbs and veggies for the immune system and hydration
- Sweet potatoes with black bean chili and low-fat cheese for essential vitamins and protein,
- Mixed salad with an olive oil dressing for healthy fats
- Veggie stir-fry a quick nutritious bite
Preparing for a marathon isn’t easy, but it’s not a mystery either. The body is a perfect machine because it gives out what you put into it. Visualize the big goal and eat foods that will help you cross the finish line.
About the author: Aurora LaJambre writes on art, culture, food, fitness, green living and travel for sites including WOW, Women on Writing, The Charlie Rose Show, Trails.com and Catalogs.com. She trains for marathons between intervals of writing fiction and non-fiction.