Dietitian Ruth McKean is here to solve your fuelling and carb loading problems
Hi everyoneASICS Target 26.2 dietician and ASICS PRO Team member Ruth McKean will be online between 1pm and 2pm today to answer queries about marathon nutrition.
Ruth is a leading sports dietician and a member of the British Dietetic Association and Health Professional Council. She is also an advisor to the Scottish Institute of Sport, specialising in helping athletes of all levels prepare nutritionally for competition. She is also a former Scottish National 5,000m champion!
If you're wondering what to eat and when in training or racing - and afterwards, Ruth's got the answers.
We're opening the discussion now so Ruth will be able to get stuck in straight away at 1pm - so get posting!
One dilemma I have is whether to eat breakfast before my marathon. When I do my long runs I tend to have a big (pasta) meal the night before but then just get up and go out running. That's what I did today on my 22 mile training run. Then I had a gel at 10 miles and half a one at 17 miles. The difference I guess is that on Marathon day I can't just run from the front door, there will be hanging about and getting to start etc. I can find that even if I eat a couple of hours before a run I can end up with a stitch though. Any tips - should I just not bother with breakfast, or eat something small and easily digested (a banana??)?
Also in terms of water I tend just to drink from my own water bottle and don't bother with water stations at races - but I guess concerned that I could perform better if I did take on board more liquid....
I'm running Brighton - I ran Windermere last year but found that a bit easier logistically as it was a 'small' race so could get to start later etc.
Hi Ruth - after any long run/race I really struggle to eat anything for the rest of the day. I've tried fruit, quinoa and veggies, bread, just proteins but they all make me want to throw up. I've tried soya chocolate milk but it's still making me feel sick.
Do you have any ideas/suggestions?
Also, could you give us an example of a typical "diet" for the days leading up to a marathon?
Hi - I am a T2 diabetic (controlled by Metformin/exercise) and have that old dilema about the dietry requirements of a distance runner (doing the D33 Ultra in Aberdeen tomorrow) and balancing those needs with diabetes which often results in conflicting advice. The problem: I find the thought of food/carbo gels etc repellent the further I run, yet know I need to take on fuel to stave off keytone acidosis (and afterwards I sometimes feel nausia for a couple hours) I suspect you might not have experience with diabetic running directly, but do you know of any surveys / any researchers which have looked into dietry balance and distance running for T2 diabetics. There are plenty for T1 but assume insulin dependence. Any help appreciated - oh, and happy to be a guinea pig!
Cheers - @tentsmuir.
3 meals per day used to be suffice. Now I am very hungry between 10-11am, 3-4pm and 9-11pm, even though I've had a decent breakfast, lunch and dinner. I run 40-50 miles pw, usually 6:00/7pm in the week and 10am saturday and very early on a Sunday.
What should I be snacking on? I get an urge for crisps, cake and other rubbish.
It's nearly 12 midday and I've been starving for 2 hours!
B/fast - 3 weetabix
Lunch - 2 rounds of sandwiches (tuna/cheese) + apple + banana
Dinner - pasta or rice dish with vegetables. once per week with chicken or fish.
I am training for the Brighton Marathon and struggling with my nutrition. I am losing more weight than I want as I am clearly not taking on enough carbs. Is there an easy way of ensuring that I eat enough of the right foods daily to maintain a good weight during this month of longer runs?
I have heard that you should keep grazing throughout the day so have started snacking on fruit and nuts regularly as well as increasing the carbs and protein in my three main meals.
Hope you can help. Thanks!
Thank you for all your posts, I will do my very best to get through these in the next hour.
Thanks for post. I would most definitely eat breakfast before a marathon although if you struggle with volume the monring of the race then you should ensure you have eaten sufficient carbs in the days or certainly the day before the marathon and a larger meal before bed which you are currently doing. The morning of the marathon some people have to get up extra early to eat (as much as four hours before) and then something like a banana or sports drink as a snack 1-2 hours (or sip sports drink up to the start but don’t overdo these before the start) but if this not possible try foods that will be quickly absorbed and leave stomach quickly like a liquid meal replacement such as slimfast drink with a gel or if you can manage the meal replacement with perhaps 1 slice of white bread with jam and cut of the crusts and nibble on this and chew food well! If you chew food well you will start digesting it in your mouth (you can only start digesting carbs in mouth this cannot happen for fats or protein). Avoid fruit juice, milk, carbonated soft drinks such as lemonade and if going to use sports drinks sip these do not gulp. In summary a low fat (quicker to digest) and light in volume is your best bet but I do think you will run better by eating breakfast as this will top up carbs before race. Practise this a few time in practise races before actual marathon. All the very best.
You should be aiming at 10grams of carbs per kilogram of your body mass using these sorts of foods, use food labels to work this out. You need to practice this to see if carb loading works for you (if carrying extra weight reduce this to 8grams of carbs per kilogram body mass so if you weight 65kg then you would aim for around 520g for 3 days before a race over 18miles) however if you have unstable diabetes, issues with fats in your bloods and you already have a very high carb diet then you would not need/recommend you do this.
I hope this helps.
I seem to remember (sometime back) there being some talk about using a protein:carbohydrate drink during exercise rather than as a recovery drink. What's the current thinking on this?
As you may have already read, the advice for those with diabetes are similar to those without durind these sorts of races and the fact you struggle to eat is no different to some other runners without diabetes (not sure if that makes you feel better or not!) but you are also aware you need to take more care than most non-diabetic runners as you should not run in the presence of hyperglycaemia and ketosis and if feeling like you are going low in a race you need to mention it to someone straight away before you struggle to do this (as i am sure you know). You may also need to reduce your meds before this sort of exercise and I would not recommend you carb load unless you tightly monitor your blood glucose but even then the response to increased carbs can be erratic and you should have a word with GP before you would do this. So basically advice is you need to take food on board if want to do these races, these ultra races needs carbs to prevent ketosis and you should start feeding glucose regularly from early on in the race, if you do this this should prime your body to receive glucose and it may be better tolerated and less risk of going low: have you tried a carb/protein mix drinks (high 5, isostar, powerbar all do these now) say aim for 200ml per hour or if struggle with a sports drink a 1:1 ratio of orange breakfast juice with water and add a electrolyte tablet with no flavour (high five salts tablets have no flavour) or even coke diluted down and tablet added if needed and alongside this say every 15mins a jelly sweet or something like a power bar shot or even regular foods such as rice crispie tyre cereal bars (these seem to be popular amongst some distance runners during long races) and just nibble. I do feel you are going have to practise eating/drinking until you manage this otherwise these races are not going to be kind to you. If you let yourself get too dehydrated then this could cause more problems when you start consuming food.
Best of luck next weekend and hope there is something above which may help.
For athletes running anything over 25miles, I have always found they do much better with 3 meals and 2-3 snacks each day so if don’t wish to increase calories too much this just means splitting that lunch time sandwich into two (one for afternoon snack or have mid-morning). However, looking at your food intake you do seem to eat very little for someone running your weekly mileage and protein is on the low side, do you include pulses or legumes such as beans or nuts in your meals which don’t include fish or chicken? This may be useful to you if you do not or have a glass of milk with meal. I do think calcium also needs to go up so adding an extra bowl of cereal before bed (does not need to be large) and a pot of yoghurt, custard, that glass of mmilk at evening meal or rice pudding at other times during the day would help and this would also increase your protein by around 10g each day with these changes alone (an egg has about 8g of protein as a comparison) and calcium by about 400mg.
I think you would benefit from the above in terms of training gains as your recovery would be better.
This should stop you feeling so hungry!
How much do you consider commercially branded sports and recovery drinks, gels etc are really necessary in endurance sport?
After all water and jelly babies have seen some of us achieve for years
Anthony Cassidy wrote (see)
Ruth - question about fuelling for an early morning race. I had a trail race last Sunday 9am start, but did not feel hungry enough at 7-7.30am to eat a good breakfast (oats, cereals etc). I think this is because I had too much to eat the night before! How important is what we eat the night before relative to what we eat an hour or so before an early morning race. Thanks.
ClaireLB wrote (see)
Hi Ruth I am training for the Brighton Marathon and struggling with my nutrition. I am losing more weight than I want as I am clearly not taking on enough carbs. Is there an easy way of ensuring that I eat enough of the right foods daily to maintain a good weight during this month of longer runs? I have heard that you should keep grazing throughout the day so have started snacking on fruit and nuts regularly as well as increasing the carbs and protein in my three main meals. Hope you can help. Thanks!
The fact you have started grazing is great and I would not want to suggest you increase this until you see how this affects your weight (in case you gain more than you want! ).So weigh yourself a couple of times per week (first thing in the morning after first pee) to monitor this. Aim 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day any of the ones I have suggested in above posts would be great as well as your fruit and nuts. Eat a couple of hours before runs as well as snack or main meal after.
You appear to be doing the right thing.
I'm not sure about calorie intake / expenditure: I'm a tad short, and have always been a little overweight, though 2 years ago I followed a juice-based plan and lost 2 stone between new year and London in April. I've kept that off since, but can't shift any more.
I usually run 25-35 miles per week, and my Garmin suggests I burn 3 to 4000 calories a week running. I appreciate I do eat/drink some of that back on, but when my scales say I have a BMR of 1400 only, I'm not sure what I can do! am I really burning half my BMR with a 7 mile run?!!!
I weigh myself once a week and keep track of it, and cannot find any link between anything!
My diet is generally sensible, I don't do fast food, and eat plenty of meat and veg etc. I rarely drink these days too - might have had 6 pints this year so far..!
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