Planning for marathon or big sports event

ENDURANCE SPORTS-For optimal performance ,working muscles need a constant supply of glucose only if when exercise lasts longer than 1 hour. After 1 hour glucose level dwindle in the body.

endurance sports-(more than 30 mins)-(energy expenditure ranges from 3000 to 3750 kcal/day) ultra endurance sports -( road cycling,long distance swimming,other sports) last 4 hours or more.Triathletes spends around 4500 calories/day.

Sports nutrition strategies should address three exercise stages-

pre-exercise, during exercise, and post exercise.

  1. PRE-EXERCISE- a) Optimize glucose availability and glycogen stores.b) Provide the fuel needed for exercise performance.
  • Keep in mind that a pre-exercise meal does not contribute immediate energy for exercise.
  • Athlete should aim to eat for 4to 6 hours prior to performing to avoid any GI distress.It takes four hours for complete digestion after 4 hours liver and muscle glycogen stores are full .So if you working out at lunch they you should have carbohydrate rich breakfast, those who workout at early morning their bedtime snack should be carbohydrate rich meal.

PRE EXERCISE MEAL– High in carbohydrate,low in fiber and fat,moderate in protein, and most important well tolerated by individual.A small meal with 50 gm carbohydrate ,30 to 60 min before exercise also helps increase glucose availability. The focus in any meal eaten before an exercise session should be on carbs.

2)DURING EXERCISE– Athlete should consume 30 to 60gms of Carbs/hour of training. Only liquids are best choice during exercise or training. During exercise that lasts ≥1 hour, clients can use a sports drink to meet their hydration, electrolyte and carbohydrate needs.Those who exercise in a hot, humid environment or are heavy sweaters may benefit from consuming a carbohydrate-electrolyte solution during shorter bouts of exercise.

3)POST EXERCISE- post exercise meal should aim for replenishing glycogen stores and facilitate muscle repair. Refueling should begin immediately after 30 mins after exercise,than it should be followed by high carbohydrate and protein rich meal in 2 hours. For improved muscle repair, athletes should take in a small amount of protein with the high-carb as a recovery meal.The amount of refueling depends on intensity and duration of exercise. A long duration ,low intensity workout may not require such rigorous replenishment.

For a quick “bite” after or 30 mins before the workout time, consider a nutritional shake,Chocolate milk, banana ,cucumber and water melons ( hydrating fruits),coconut water,buttermilk and raisins,oranges, can quickly provide carbs while being easily digested.

HYDRATION-Optimal hydration status depends on many factors, including pre-event hydration, weather and sweat rate. Athletes should aim to ingest fluids every 15–20 minutes, Athlete should aim for 5 to 7 ml fluid/kg(2.2lb).Athletes should always Aim for 1:1 ratio, And they should avoid water weight loss more than 2% during any event. Everyone knows drinking too little can lead to dehydration, but even drinking too much can lead to hyponatremia (low sodium in blood) which is equally dangerous. Though our body is very good in handling variations of fluid intake .Failure to maintain fluid balance lead to drop in blood volume,early fatigue. One should aim for right amount of fluid and electrolytes to maintain state called euhydration ( not too much and not enough).

Colour of urine is the best indication

Dark yellow urine- less water consumption(dehydration)

Light yellow-perfect hydration( like lemonade colour)

Clear urine-indicates overhydration

MYTH DRINKING FLUIDS DURING BEFORE AND DURING EXERCISE CAUSES GI DISTRESS– Since blood flow is diverted away from stomach during exercise ( slows gastric emptying)( time it takes to digest foods and release them from stomach into the intestines) meals high in carbs and protein taken close to exercise timings they stay in stomach for a longer time may lead to distress. Moreover more energy is needed by working muscles,this may cause stomach distress,along with other stomach discomfort ranging from bloating,gas nausea,reflux etc. So right hydration increase gastric emptying reduces GI distress.


Because stores are limited, carbs must be consumed daily during training and before, during and after training runs and races.. The importance is not limited to just one day but during every day training session.

If exercise  last more than 2 hours, than sports drinks with elevated sodium levels  is helpful to reduce fatigue. They also help in replenishing  fluids,glucose and sodium lost in vigorous exercise.

Always have a healthy snack on hand,Athlete can load up their backpacks with dried fruits,mixed nuts,bars ,water bottle.

Athletes do have higher requirement of vitamins and minerals so Plan a meal every day in advance to have a wholesome nutrient density rich foods.High -dose supplements are not effective as they may in fact affect fluid balance.

Anyone preparing for marathon or any other endurance sports should ingest high energy ,high carb diet, limit protein and fat intake on the day of event.

stay hydrated avoid ibuprofen,alcohol,caffeine before and during exercise causes GI distress. Always consult a sports nutritionist before following any meal plan.

Always remember any carbohydrate loading plan followed by athlete leads to water weight gain, as carbs is stored as glycogen in muscles and carbs (glucose) needs water for storage. ( about 3 grams of water /grams of glycogen stored).