Nutritionist shares which foods to eat before running

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The London Marathon is a 26.2-mile course from Greenwich, in the south, to The Mall, at the capital’s centre. Those running will need to eat properly before the race to carry them over the finish line, but what food is the best option?

Whether you’re running a marathon or a five-kilometre race, fuelling your body before is essential, said Lifesum’s nutritionist Signe Svanfeldt.

It is also important to eat after a run, when the body is recovering.

Signe told “How you run and recover is highly impacted by your nutritional strategy. Nutrition provides carbohydrates for quick release energy, protein for vital maintenance and muscle nourishment and fat as an energy source.

“Lifesum’s Diet for Runners Meal Plan can help runners with a science-backed nutritional strategy, including what to eat pre- and post-run to maximise performance and recovery.”

On the day of the marathon, Signe recommended that runners “focus on eating a larger breakfast rich in energy, carbohydrates, protein and fat”.

This is best consumed at least two hours before the start of the race to prevent stitches or feelings of nausea.

Signe continued: “For example, oatmeal with banana, peanut butter and Greek yoghurt or scrambled eggs on toast and banana berry smoothie.”

Closer to the race, smaller, easily digested, snacks should be consumed, according to the nutritionist.

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She said: “These should be rich in protein to nourish muscles and carbohydrates for quick release energy, for example, banana pancakes or a smoothie with low-fat Greek yoghurt and fruit.

“Avoid large meals close to the race as this could lead to digestive issues and stomach aches.”

Drinking is just as important as eating before, during, and after running a marathon.

“As you sweat you lose salt so it’s important to replace electrolytes as well as water,” explained Signe.

“Lifesum’s water tracker helps runners to track their water intake and keep hydrated. How much fluid required is dependent on the individual – if your urine is dark, drink more liquids, if it’s light you’re probably hydrated.

“It can be challenging to drink water during a race, so aim for two sips every 15 minutes.”

Eating during a race is also recommended as Signe stressed the importance of maintaining blood glucose levels by eating carbohydrates and replacing fluids.

“Simple carbohydrates, such as a banana, a sports drink or a sports gel, should be consumed as they’re easily digested and quickly release glucose into the bloodstream,” she said.

A good nutritional strategy should not end at the finishing line, Signe added, and she went on to recommend the best foods to eat post-run for recovery.

She said: “As soon as the race is over, replace lost fluids and eat easily digestible carbohydrates, for example a banana or rice cracker, and fill up on glycogen as well as protein, for example a boiled egg or tofu, to nourish muscles and prevent muscle breakdown.

“For recovery post-run, a larger meal rich in carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats should be eaten.”

Examples of a meal like this include tofu with rice noodles, chicken with roasted vegetables, and a salmon and potato salad, according to Signe.

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