Proper nutrition for marathon runners is necessary as it plays a significant role in their performance. However, many runners don’t focus enough on their diets. According to the research by the national library of medicine, marathon runners have high energy demands which are not managed by their nutrient and fluid intake. Their survey shows that ultra-endurance triathletes are consuming 7,365 kilocalories less than the required amount. While balancing a healthy marathon training, diet can be your perfect partner that can boost your performance and aids you in making training smoother.

The prime step is that make sure that you are taking sufficient calories that can support the increase in your training duration. Even though Junk food like donuts and burgers can make it easy for you to cope with your calorie goal. However, it is not a healthy way to perform the best.

That is why the diet of marathon runners should be well balanced and should contain whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fat. Following nutrients are important, and they should be incorporated into your meal if you are doing marathon training.


No doubt, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are all high-calorie giving nutrients. However, if you are a marathon runner, carbohydrates should be your first preference.

  • Carbohydrates provide you the energy that helps you to touch the finish line earlier. They are an instant energy source and give an outrageous amount of calories. According to the international society of sports nutrition, athletes who have intense training schedules need 5-8g/kg of carbohydrates per day. While taking carbohydrates, you should prefer wholegrain bread, cereals, starchy fruits, and vegetables.
  • Another piece of advice is to incorporate strategic intake of carbohydrates-rich food right after training. This will help in rapid muscle glycogen repletion and maintain your blood glucose level.
  • Proteins are also an essential macronutrient that should be incorporated into the marathon runners' diet. ISSN recommends 1.4-1.8 grams of daily protein intake. However, this protein should be taken soon after training because they help to build new muscles and RBCs; and also repair the older ones.
  • Fats are also an essential part of a healthy marathon runners' diet. ISSN recommends that fats should be 30% of the total caloric intake. However, if caloric intake is needed to increase, the fat content can be increased.
  • Water is also very much essential as it balances the body’s hydration level. If your body has sufficient water content, then you can perform well otherwise, your performance will get affected because of dehydration.

It is also important to note that not only nutrients intake matters but the timing to take these nutrients also matters. It means that your nutrients intake should be strategic. For example: if you are going for training, you can consume carbohydrates and protein 30 to 60 mins before a workout. This will boost your glucose level before running and, you will not feel lethargy and weakness during the training. As far as the complete meal is concerned, you can take it 4-6 hours before running because it can prevent you from different gastrointestinal issues.

On the day of competition, runners can take sports gels such as energy chews, sports drinks along as they can help maintain energy levels.

Considering the above, we can say the nutrition for marathon runners has prime importance. If runners consume a proper diet, then their performance will be outstanding. However, if they were to follow a substandard diet plan, then their performance, as well as their health, will suffer.